Adams 12 Candidate Rico Figueroa Asks State Supreme Court to Find Who Won Election

The question of who won the election to represent District 4 on the Adams 12 Five Star school board now rests with the Colorado Supreme Court.

Candidate Rico Figueroa has appealed a district court judge's recent ruling that the District 4 seat should be declared vacant. The judge had ruled that since Figueroa's opponent, Amy Speers, earned two-thirds of the vote and Figueroa earned just a third, the voters "expressed a clear intent not to elect him."

Since Speers was declared ineligible to serve when it was discovered that she lives outside the District 4 boundary, Figueroa is seeking an opinion that, as the second-highest vote-getter, he won the election.

See also: Adams 12 school board seat declared vacant by judge in ongoing drama over who won election

So far, he hasn't had much luck. Last month, Broomfield District Court Judge Chris Melonakis found against Figueroa. "The Court finds as a matter of fact and concludes as a matter of law that he was not legally elected to the office," Melonakis wrote in his order.

Instead, he wrote, "a vacancy exists in the position for Director District 4 to be filled as provided by law." In this case, that means that the current school board members would appoint someone to fill the District 4 seat.

Figueroa appealed Melonakis's ruling last week directly to the state Supreme Court -- as is the process when it comes to election disputes. His attorney, Mario Nicolais, says they're asking the high court to weigh in on whether votes for Speers should count as votes against Figueroa, as Melonakis suggested. Nicolais doesn't think they should.

"You determine who won by counting the number of votes for a candidate -- and for a qualified candidate, in particular," he says. "Amy Speers is not qualified to take office."

Speers refused to drop out of the race when election officials discovered that she no longer lived within the District 4 boundaries due to recent redistricting. Instead, she kept asking people to vote for her in order to send a message to the school board that the residents of Adams 12 supported non-conservative candidates such as herself.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler attempted to stop Speers's votes from being counted by issuing an emergency rule on Election Day that declared that ballots cast for unqualified candidates were invalid. But a Denver District Court judge found that Gessler's rule was unlawful after a group of eight voters sued Gessler. The final vote tally showed that Speers earned 24,169 votes and Figueroa earned 14,081.

Now it's up to the Colorado Supreme Court to determine whether Figueroa's votes were enough. In the meantime, Nicolais asked that Melonakis's ruling be put on hold -- a request that he says was granted. Which means that it could still be several months before the voters of Adams 12 know who, exactly, they elected.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar