Moffat County term limit extensions being discussed

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Overview

County Commissioners:

John Kinkaid, District 1 — Elected 2013

Chuck Grobe, District 2 — Elected 2013

Tom Mathers, District 3 — Re-elected to second term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

County Sheriff:

Tim Jantz — Re-elected to second term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

County Assessor:

Robert Razzano — Elected to first term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

County Clerk and Recorder:

Lila Herod — Elected to first term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

County Treasurer:

Elaine Sullivan — Elected to first term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

County Coroner:

Kirk McKey — Elected to first term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

According to the Moffat County website.

A 10-person committee wants Moffat County voters to extend the term limits from two terms to three for county elected officials, which means an additional four years in office.

Nancy Hettinger, an administrative assistant at the Moffat County Sheriff's Office, presented the committee’s mission to the Moffat County Commission at its weekly meeting Tuesday, saying that she’d like voters to decide on the issue in November.

“It’s hard to get quality people in a small community to run for office,” Hettinger said, noting that it would give the current candidates in office an opportunity to run for one more term, which is longer than the current law allows.

“Even though you run, you can still get beat,” she said.

The commissioners thought it was a good idea, though they didn’t necessarily want their term limits extended.

“Not the commissioners,” said Tom Mathers, who represents District 3.

The ballot measures that Hettinger presented to the county board included the commissioners. It also included measures to extend the term limits for the county sheriff, clerk, treasurer, assessor and coroner.

Rather than lumping all elected official’s term limit extensions into one measure, she’s asking that each position be presented as its own ballot question. That means voters will have to decide on each position individually.

“If you put it all on one (measure), I don’t think it will stand a chance,” Hettinger said. “I think we should get it to the county attorney and let her go over it.”

The process still is in its infancy. Hettinger plans to present it to the commissioners again in July. Sept. 6 is the last day to put measures on the November ballot.

The question already has been presented to Moffat County voters and failed twice in the past — once in 1996 and the other in 2002.

In 1996, all offices were included on one ballot measure, and in 2002, there was a measure for each office.

“I just don’t think that the term limits are right. I think if the person is doing a good job, and they seem very qualified for the position, I think you should be able to be re-elected,” said Carol Beuner, who sits on the committee.

She thinks the commissioners shouldn’t be allowed to extend their terms.

“There are certain positions like the assessor's office, I think there are very few people in town that are qualified to run that office,” Beuner said.

Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said he tries to stay out of term limit discussions, and he’s happy with the current law.

“We knew what we were getting into when we got into office and knew that we were term limited,” he said. “It’s been brought up to me before. It’s been kind of a growing conversation. I’ve tried not to delve in too deep on it.”

He thinks the people of Moffat County like the idea of a certain amount of term limits, Jantz said, adding that he thinks voters will respond to what they believe.

“They’re very active in local politics. That’s what I appreciate about our community,” Jantz said. “They’re not afraid to come forward.”

Neighboring counties such as Routt, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties eliminated term limits for all of their elected officials.

Routt County put it to a vote in the 1990s, and it failed. It was added to the ballot again in 2000, and voters eliminated term limits. Rio Blanco eliminated elected officials terms in 1999, and Garfield did away with term limits in 1998, according to data compiled by Mesa County.

Mesa County slowly has extended term limits for its elected officials. In 2009, voters approved extending term limits to three terms for the county district attorney, sheriff and coroner.

For more information contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.

Comments

RyanHess 1 year, 6 months ago

I think it is a good idea. If democracy truly works, you have to have faith in the elector-it. Term limits are not as limiting as the voters: if the voters want to keep them, then they should stay; if the voters do not want to keep them, then they can vote them out. Term limits also discourage younger candidates: an 8 year max career is not much of an incentive. If you have a skilled elected position, and someone is doing their job well; they should be allowed to stay if the voters choose to let them.

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RyanHess 1 year, 6 months ago

I don't disagree that it isn't a dichotomy--the days of the Daley political machine remind us of out of check politics--but still the best prevention of corruption is a well informed voter. Corruption can also come about when all qualified persons have served, and are not alotted more terms. Not saying we have a shortage of qualified individuals but the learning curve for some elected positions can be upwards of 4 years; then it's back to campaigning, or cruising the classifieds.

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girlfriday 1 year, 6 months ago

I believe term limits should be eliminated all together, after all we do have term limits, it is called "don't re-elect the person". You are correct Mr. Hess the learning curve is huge for some elected positions and term limits does discourage highly qualified younger candidates from running for office when they know they'll have to find another job in 8 years. The results of term limits in the last general election resulted in just playing musical chairs in the courthouse. If the voters in Moffat County really do want term limits why do they elect the same people into office but just to a different elected position?

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dennis collins 1 year, 6 months ago

yep ! the best term limits are when the voters say "you ain't makin it" and throw the person out.

listen folks, when congressmen or big time govt. politicians get voted out they can just go back to their lawyer job and continue life. when your sheriff gets term limited he either has to retire (tims too young) or go to work as a deputy (more than a bit embarrasing) people who dedicate their lives to law enforcement rarely know any other way to make a living. plus you get a really good sheriff and have to kiss him good by in 8 years. i have been a real fan of allowing local officials to stay in office if they are doing a good job. if this makes it on the ballot, stop and ask yourself if each of the officials involved are doing a good job or not, then vote what makes sense.

tims a very good man, has he done a good job ? and don't be fooled, tim would certainly run again if it was offered. ask yourself how many sheriffs you have had with the courage to tell the governor to take his stupid gun laws and shove them. i cannot speak for the others as i don't live in craig at the moment, as a native i will certainly come back when the time is right, i just hope you haven't run all the good help off by that time.

remember, you can trust folks like jantz, and after all whats most important ?

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Jason Phillips 1 year, 6 months ago

I think there is a compelling case to extend the term limits in a rural community like Craig. As was already mentioned multiple times - it's not like we're indefinitely extending their tenure, they still have to get re-elected. But at least this way we aren't arbitrarily getting rid of quality leaders.

I think term limits are more important on the state and national levels where the talent pool is larger and the stakes are higher.

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RyanHess 1 year, 6 months ago

Bronc I agree. I firmly believe that at the local level the elector-it is more informed about candidates than at the national level. In a federal congressional race, with no term limits, and all the powers of Article I of the Constitution, we get five second ads and hour debates. Locally we get years of knowing these people.

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westslopeguy 1 year, 6 months ago

So yeah, I get it now. Its a popularity contest. Kinda like when I was in hi-school and was asked to vote for the homecoming queen. I didn't then, and I won't now. What do they really do anyway except pave, grade or plow the road to their house in the winter?

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