GREELEY -- A Platteville woman, whose nephew was one of two people killed in recent rail crossing accidents in Weld County, is spearheading an effort to recall Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer.
Sara Mondragon says Kirkmeyer, who chairs the Highway 85 Coalition, should have done more to make rail crossings safer.
Mondragon’s 16-year old nephew, Dallas Duran, was killed at the Fifth Street rail crossing in Eaton in February of 2017.
Nearly a year later, 18-year old Kennedy Ingram died at the same crossing.
Mondragon said if Kirkmeyer had pushed to spend $600,000 for crossing arms, “it would have prevented an entire community from grieving.”
“I just feel that somebody needs to be held accountable,” Mondragon said. “She had this in her lap for nine years and has done nothing to make (safety) improvements.”
Mondragon told Denver7 it was only after the recall effort was made public that CDOT announced it would close several crossings along Highway 85 and would install crossing arms in Eaton.
“I’m very sorry that her nephew was killed,” the commissioner said. “I’m sorry when there is any kind of tragedy like that. I certainly understand the trauma that that puts on a family, but for her to claim that nothing happened until after the recall was put in place is not factual.”
Kirkmeyer said the recall effort is being fueled with misinformation.
“That crossing is not in my district,” she said, “but the Mayor of Eaton brought it up last year because we were working on the 85 corridor, and on some issues with Union Pacific.”
She said he mentioned that he’d like to see some crossing arms on Fifth Street.
“I’m the one that went and spoke to CDOT, went and spoke to Union Pacific and to the Public Utilities Commission,” she said. “The reality is that those crossing arms are slated to be finished this year, hopefully this fall.”
“She’s blaming me saying I didn’t act. Well, as soon as I heard about it (from the mayor,) I acted and got results.”
Kirkmeyer believes the recall effort is politically motivated and that opponents who don’t like her stance on property rights, and other issues, are using Mondragon as a pawn in a political game.
Mondragon accuses Kirkmeyer of using her public office for political gain.
She said the commissioner recently sold some personal property, for $3-million, to a company that does business with the Board of Commissioners.
She said the property was worth $900,000.
“That’s a conflict of interest,” Mondragon said.
“More misinformation,” Kirkmeyer replied.
“I did sell some property,” she said, “my 1/6 interest in a farm. I sold my share to an individual. That individual sold it to someone else. That’s not on me. He sold it to Anadarko. They own it now, I didn’t sell it to them.”
Mondragon also alleges that Kirkmeyer has scheduled public meetings that didn’t turn out to be public.
“Ms. Mondragon has never reached out to me,” Kirkmeyer said. “She has chosen a very public and aggressive route to air her grievances, when she has not even talked to me personally. I am saddened by that.”
The commissioner believes others in Weld County are using Mondragon to achieve their own ends.
“For the last few years, a small group of engaged, very narrow folks, who have a radical agenda, and are politically motivated, are using her as a pawn in their political game,” Kirkmeyer said. “That’s not the purpose of a recall, for a special interest group with a specific agenda.”
What Happens Next
The Weld County Clerk & Recorder's Office has sent a certified letter to Commissioner Kirkmeyer regarding the affidavit filed by Mondragon.
Once she receives it, she’ll have five business days to respond.
Once that happens, Mondragon will meet with the County Attorney to come up with a format for the petition.
After it is selected, Mondragon will have 60 days to collect 5,767 signatures to get the issue on the ballot.
When asked whether there would be a special election, Deputy Clerk and Recorder Rudy Santos said they don’t know yet and won’t until the rest of the process plays out.