EducationElection 2018News

Residency questions hit candidate for Colo. education board

Author: Marianne Goodland - May 16, 2018 - Updated: May 31, 2018

Debora ScheffelDebora Scheffel, candidate for the state board of education, 4th Congressional District. Photo courtesy Colorado Christian University.

Debora Scheffel, who has been trying for three years to get elected to a board of education, is now facing questions about whether she lives in the Parker home that is listed on her voter registration records.

That home, at 12067 Summit Ridge Road in Parker, appears to be vacant. Douglas County assessor’s records show Scheffel has owned the land for the home since 1998 and the home itself since 2002, although she told Denver TV station KCNC-CBS4 in a recent interview that she has owned the property for the past 12 years.

Scheffel, who was elected in 2010 to the Colorado State Board of Education seat representing the 6th Congressional District, lost a close bid for re-election in 2016 to Democrat Rebecca McClellan. She told CBS4 that during her tenure on the board, she lived at her parents’ home in a section of Parker that is in the 6th District.

In her 2010 race for the 6th District education board seat, Scheffel made five large cash and in-kind donations to her campaign, each one listing the Summit Ridge address, which was then in the 6th Congressional District. A year later, according to Chalkbeat Colorado, redistricting meant the house wound up in the 4th Congressional District. She was grandfathered into the seat.

But when she filed for re-election in 2016, she continued to list the Summit Ridge address, now part of the 4th Congressional District, as her home address with the Secretary of State and continued to use that address for campaign business related to the 2016 re-election bid until July 17, 2017, when the campaign committee was terminated. She told Chalkbeat in August 2016 she was selling the Summit Ridge home and moving in with her parents to establish a 6th Congressional District residence.

On March 1, 2017, records show Scheffel changed her voter registration to the Summit Ridge address and that year ran for the Douglas County Board of Education. She lost the race to Krista Holtzmann by more than 13,000 votes or just over 15 percent.

When Pam Mazanec resigned from the state board of education for the 4th Congressional District last January, Scheffel persuaded the vacancy committee to appoint her to the job, and she is running for election for a full-term in November. She filed her candidate affidavit with the office of Secretary of State on March 22.

The gold standard for determining residency, according to the Secretary of State’s office, is where a person’s voter registration is listed. However, that can be challenged in court.

A search for the Summit Ridge property on Zillow showed dozens of pictures of the interior of a vacant house but lists it as off-market.

CBS4 reported on Tuesday that the home had been up for rent until at least last February, and a real estate agent told reporter Brian Maass in February the owner was looking for a long-term rental.

Scheffel told CBS4 that she lives a “nomadic” lifestyle.

Scheffel’s Democratic opponent for November is public education advocate Tim Krug of Parker. Krug told Colorado Politics that “if my opponent was dishonest about where she lives, she has stolen the opportunity from a legitimate resident of her own party to serve the school communities of 22 counties in eastern Colorado. If the allegations are true, she should resign and withdraw from the race immediately.”

“Voters shouldn’t settle for a career politician who is living a ‘nomadic existence.’ That’s just her fancy words for political carpet-bagging. The residents living in our district deserve a representative who is committed to the community, not herself,” Krug added.

Scheffel has not yet returned a call for comment.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.