SILVERTON – After months of seething political tensions, elaborate scheming and Capulet versus Montague grudge-nursing, on Tuesday night, Silverton Town Board Trustee Karla Safranski prevailed in a recall election, defeating Patty Dailey 245 votes to 201.
When Safranski learned of her victory she seemed torn between crying and grinning. She said she’d be better able to comment in the coming days.
A few blocks away, at Brown Bear Cafe, about 30 Silverton residents gathered to mourn Dailey’s loss.
“It was close,” Dailey said.
“I’m relieved, in some sense, that it’s over. It just means all the spending will continue, and rules and regulations won’t be followed.”
Since August, when longtime Public Works Director Gilbert Archuleta was accused of disparaging Town Manager Brian Carlson in the early-morning hours at a Silverton bar – breaking a “niceness contract” the two bickering men had entered only weeks before at the behest of the Town Board – Silverton’s government has been plunged into crisis.
In the last eight months, widespread disagreement over what to do about the warring city employees has divided Silverton, split the Town Board, shut down Town Hall, paralyzed town government and ended several careers – including Archuleta’s and Carlson’s. Some residents, enraged by the board’s firing of Archuleta, targeted Safranski, who’d supported Archuleta’s firing, for a recall election.
Before the election results came in Tuesday, Dailey said if she won, she intended to vote to re-hire Archuleta, whose firing she called utterly unfair.
Earlier on Tuesday, Interim Town Manager Mark Garcia said the Town Board lacked the legal power to reinstall Archuleta, and if such a vote were taken in the event Dailey were elected, it would have provoked a raft of resignations at Town Hall, including his own.
Many Silvertonians said the blood feud already had a tragic effect on residents – paralyzing government and pitting neighbor against neighbor.
Garcia said the town needed the recall election, as it finally would clarify public sentiments about the direction the town should head in.
While the result offers clarity – Safranski decisively skirted the recall attempt by a margin of 44 votes – it does not offer deliverance to a town beleaguered by impasse.
Safranski retaining her seat means the Town Board will continue to split between two factions, three votes to three. The board will remain deadlocked until late March or April, when former Trustee Tracy Boeyink’s seat can be filled in another special election.