But when she heard about the Romanoff story, she felt "personally heartbroken." And she said as much when Silva, a friend, called to ask her opinion. Banuelos says she wasn't involved with the petition, though Silva mentioned it to her.

What pushed Banuelos to become involved, she says, was a pair of Facebook exchanges she had with Merida and Merida's husband. (She is remarried.) Banuelos says they accused her of being involved with the recall petition. After defending herself more than once, Banuelos says she decided to sign on to the petition.

Silva had been looking into recalling Merida for months. He says he'd heard from relatives and friends in southwest Denver who said they were unhappy with her. "She continues to be more divisive," Silva says.

Andrea Merida (far right) and company at a recent board meeting.
Anthony Camera
Andrea Merida (far right) and company at a recent board meeting.

But Silva couldn't do anything about it because he doesn't live in District 2. He lives in District 5, where he ran unsuccessfully in the most recent Democratic primary for a House seat. Silva lost to Crisanta Duran, a former union lawyer whom Merida supported. When, during the campaign, Silva posted on Facebook allegations that Duran and her family had mishandled union money, Merida defended her, he says.

Merida thinks that's what set Silva off. She says she suspects he started the petition because she didn't endorse him. "I feel like it's kind of retaliatory," she says. Silva, she says, is "always looking for a project. There are plenty of community organizations where he can put his effort to better use."

Silva denies it — sort of. "This has nothing to do with her not choosing me," he says. If anything, he says, it goes back to Merida's defense of Duran on Facebook. "She put herself on notice when she decided to defend somebody else's actions that seem to be pretty unethical, and then at that point decided to make a series of her own gaffes."

On September 9, the Denver Elections Division rejected the petition on the grounds that it wasn't in the proper format. Silva reformatted it and submitted it again the next day. But last week, the division rejected it again, citing typos and legal errors.

Silva and Banuelos have not submitted the petition a third time, though they are considering doing so.

Merida isn't too worried. "I'm really focused on the kids in my district," she says.

As for whether she's bothered that some people don't like her, Merida says no. What hurts, she says, is that some people don't understand what she's trying to do.

"It is controversial, the way I do some things," she says. "But we are losing our democracy, and anybody who is going to go along to get along is doing nothing more than leading that on. The kids in my district need somebody to stand up for them. So I'm okay with having to take a few pot shots at me and [having people] plotting against me, because at the end of the day, I know what I'm wanting to do and what I'm doing."

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