Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ballot Question 1A on Term Limits, Douglas County, CO

Many voters don’t know that Proposition 1A gives a third term to the current sheriff, already in his second term.

Supporters tell us we can vote out a bad Sheriff. In Douglas County partisan races, delegates decide who runs for Sheriff, and the incumbent always wins. I know this because I hosted a caucus and chose delegates specifically to help our current Sheriff win his place on the ballot in March 2006, and I have since trained another 2000 Colorado citizens how to become delegates and select candidates for office. There hasn’t been a real two-party contest in the Sheriff’s general election in decades.

The truth is that in Douglas County, November voters don’t really select the Sheriff. This is because our voting population majority is Republican, and the Republican always wins. (There is no elected Democrat in a partisan office anywhere in Douglas County.) Therefore, the candidate chosen at the Republican Assembly or at the Republican Primary becomes the winner of the November election. Our best chance at having a new person take on a fresh, supervisory role at the Sheriff's Department is to keep the current maximum of eight years in office.

Also, a change to elected official rules shouldn’t apply to those already in office. When term limits started, they didn’t affect incumbents. Why should we give our current Sheriff special treatment?

Supporters of 1A say we can’t afford $2,000 for special training required for a new Sheriff. The Sheriff’s budget is $46 million! We could send a new Sheriff to dozens of courses and not hurt the budget!

Supporters tell us the Department will fall apart when we change Sheriffs. The Douglas County Sheriff Department is a large enterprise, and I am confident that there are many qualified employees who would jump at the chance of serving the County in a future elected capacity.

Another more serious problem with ballot question 1A is that, if successful, it will open the door for more ballot questions to extend term limits in other elected offices. Here's how I know this:

In the 1990's in Colorado, a few small rural towns wanted to institute legal gaming in order to shore up their struggling economies. Many voters, including myself, thought, "How bad could this be?" And we voted yes. Gaming was instituted in those three towns.

In the next one or two election cycles, a plethora of Colorado towns put forth ballot initiatives in order to also institute gaming in their towns as well. We had opened the floodgates! The voters got wise to the big picture, and voted "no" repeatedly from that point onward.

Opening the door to the extension of term limits for the Sheriff in Douglas County will invariably lead to efforts to extend term limits for many more offices, which could include Treasurer, County Commissioner, Clerk & Recorder, and more.

I’m voting No on 1A. Eight years in office is long enough.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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