Andrea Merida recall organizer: "Threat of a recall can be more effective than actual recall"

Andrea Merida, the controversial Denver Public Schools board member, survived a recall attempt this week when the voters asking for her removal didn't collect enough signatures -- although that's not the way recall organizer Jose Silva explained the situation in two e-mails to Westword. In fact, he sounded a bit defensive while describing the reasons for the recall's failure.

Silva -- and the three southwest Denver voters who actually filed the petition, since Silva doesn't live in Merida's district -- had sixty days to collect the signatures of 4,342 southwest Denver voters and turn them in to the Denver Elections Division in order to trigger a recall election. The sixty days expired Monday with no signatures turned in.

In an e-mail sent late yesterday afternoon, Silva explained why:

We would have met the threshold but after speaking with many community leaders and reviewing the costs associated, we the recall committee felt it would be best not to subject Denver to this costly special election. It is our hope that Andrea Merida understands that such gaffes will no longer be allowed and her tenure on the board will be limited to one term.

The gaffe he's referring to was Merida's failure to disclose she was a paid staffer for former U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff when she wrote an op-ed for the Denver Post in July that criticized comments made by Romanoff's opponent, Senator Michael Bennet.

In his second e-mail, also sent yesterday, Silva says he thinks Merida got the message.

The threat of a recall can be more effective then the actual recall its self. 125 thousand in possible costs of a special election in the end with a 100 million deficit we felt it was best not submit the signatures.

Silva didn't specify in his e-mails how many signatures were collected, and he didn't return a phone call from Westword. But he told the Post that they'd gathered 3,700, a number the Post's Jeremy Meyer notes was not substantiated.

That's a lot of effort for a threat.

For more on Merida, read the Westword profile "Rule Breaker."

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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