Grand County Council vice chair Curtis Wells [File photo]

Petitioners seeking to remove Grand County Council vice chair Curtis Wells from office did not file the petition by the Sept. 7 deadline, Grand County Clerk/Auditor Diana Carroll said this week. Additionally, such a recall is now disallowed under the county’s current form of government according to new state law, she said.

Carroll said she originally received notice on May 8 of an intent to gather signatures for a recall petition. Carroll said the clerk’s office prepared a petition for Moab resident David Lyle.

The intent of the petition was to recall Wells after he communicated with the state legislature on House Bill 224 to enact controversial changes to county government. One of the changes from the state legislature deemed Grand County’s ability to issue recalls unconstitutional.

But county attorney Andrew Fitzgerald said previously that since Grand County does not yet have a new form of government in place under House Bill 224, the county must still operate under its current form of government, which allows for recalls.

According to Carroll, rules outlining the petition process say that a recall may be made without having to give a reason. Carroll said the clerk’s office was not given a reason for the recall petition.

Carroll said the clerk’s office prepared the petition for Lyle, but he did not bring the petition back to the clerk’s office with the necessary signatures by the Sept. 7 deadline.

“I can only assume it did not have enough signatures,” Carroll said.

Grand County’s current form of government states that if a petition is made in Grand County, it must collect enough signatures from registered voters to equal 15 percent of the last gubernatorial vote within the county. The petition prepared for Lyle would have required 679 signatures to be valid in Grand County, Carroll said.

However, Carroll said that even with 679 or more signatures, House Bill 224 passed earlier this year now makes the recall process allowed for in Grand County’s form of government unconstitutional in the state of Utah.

“Recall is no longer allowed for in Utah State Code,” Carroll said.

It’s unclear what steps would have been taken if the signatures on the petition had been submitted by the deadline, or how the new Utah State Code would affect Grand County’s current — but now unconstitutional — form of government on the recall process outlined in 1992.

Wells called the petition to remove him from office “politically motivated.”

“The reasoning for the recall petition taken out against me, as publicly explained by Mr. Lyle, was because ‘two-thirds of Grand County is progressive and I’m not representing them accordingly.’” Wells said. “Well, I was serving as the Republican Party chairman when I was duly elected at-large … while I realize the form of government issue is contentious, to me, it’s not about partisan politics. It is about productivity and efficiency from the legislative body of the county.”

Clerk says petition not returned and not permissible under current state code