Louisville residents just voted to remove a city councilor who represented a Marshall fire neighborhood. Here’s why

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Homes in Superior, Colorado, on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, destroyed by the Marshall fire. Marshall fire ignited Dec. 30, 2021, in Boulder County and destroyed nearly 1,000 homes in and around Superior and Louisville, and left thousands of people scrambling to evacuate, driven by winds that sometimes exceeded 100 mph.

A member of the Louisville City Council has been recalled and will be replaced, following a campaign organized by a group of Marshall fire survivors who lost their homes.

Maxine Most was elected in 2021 to serve Louisville’s Ward II, which includes several neighborhoods affected by Colorado’s most destructive wildfire. She came under fire over her opposition to waiving greener, stricter building codes for homeowners rebuilding in the Marshall fire’s wake

The questions of whether to remove Most and elect her replacement appeared on the same ballot.

Of the 4,921 ballots sent out to registered Ward 2 voters, 1,105 were cast in favor of the recall. There were 570 votes against it. Residents also cast 1,082 votes to name Judi Kern as Most’s successor, according to the Louisville City Clerk's Office. 

People who supported the ordinance argued it would reduce construction costs and keep rebuilding within the limits of resident’s insurance policies.

The building codes, updated just eight weeks before the climate-fueled Marshall fire killed two people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes, introduced requirements for electric vehicle plugs, solar panels and all-electric appliances. One provision also required homes to cover their energy needs with renewable resources, like rooftop solar panels or a subscription to a community solar garden. 

While the city council voted to pass the ordinance waiving the requirements in April 2022, Most was one of two members to vote against it. 

Most did not respond to CPR News’ request for comment.

Christian Dino, one of the recall campaign organizers, said that in addition to opposing Most’s decision to vote against the ordinance, he and other survivors had concerns with how she treated recovery efforts.

“She was, in one of the other neighborhood meetings, responding to a lot of the folks in there that if they can't afford to rebuild the home they had, they should just rebuild smaller,” Dino, who lost his home in the fire, said. “And while that may sound logical, everyone lost everything and is just trying to recoup and get back to where they were. Wanting to achieve that I don't think is an extreme ask.”
In previous council meetings, Most justified her vote against waiving the new codes by saying it was important to continue addressing climate change, which experts and local officials say fueled the fire’s destructiveness.

“I think we have a responsibility as city council members to think about the long-term health, safety, and wellbeing of our community,” Most said during an April 2022 meeting. “For me, when we're talking about building 500-plus structures that are going to be here for a hundred plus years, that's the long-term proposition.”

Then-Mayor Ashley Stolzmann also voted against the ordinance when it was proposed. She left office in January 2023 to become a Boulder County Commissioner. 

The recall campaign also took concern with several of Most’s other stances, including what they describe as an “anti-business” slant. Dino said Kern, herself a Marshall fire victim, will balance the interests of his community better. 

“She's primarily been putting her build of her own home on hold while [campaigning] to ensure that she's doing what she feels is most important for her overall community,” he said. 

Election results are still unofficial, as the city works to verify signatures and process overseas ballots. That process is expected to be complete by Oct. 13.  

CPR’s Sam Brasch contributed to this report.