In a year with heightened political activity nationally, it would be easy to overlook local issues, but South Jeffco residents ignore them at their peril. Local and regional ballot items from May through November range from district-level tax increases to the race to replace Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo.
Ken-Caryl Metro District
The Ken-Caryl Metro District is seeking a 2.5-mill increase this spring, which would cost the owner of a $500,000 home an extra $100 per year. The current mill levy is 12.709, and that was set in 1988.
The proposed increase was defeated on November’s ballot 54 to 46 percent, but proponents think more education for district homeowners can produce a different result. Ken-Caryl residents will also be voting to fill three vacant board of director positions. The candidates are (see the story on Page x or visit www.columbinecourier.com for candidate positions):
Wayne G. Lyle, Kathy Tourney, Greg Milano, Scott Milne, Laura Marrs, Stuart Macdonald and Jeff Esbenshade (Chris Schroeder and Cheryl Garlock will appear on the ballot, but they have withdrawn from the race).
The district is also asking residents to allow it to keep all property taxes it collects, which would exempt it from TABOR requirements and the state’s 5.5 percent property tax limitation.
Residents should have received the ballot in the mail, and it must be returned to the district by May 6.
Foothills Park and Recreation District
The Foothills Park and Recreation District is also asking residents to approve a mill-levy increase and to vote on candidates for the board of directors this spring.
The district is asking for a 3-mill increase to pay for capital repairs, equipment replacement, operational costs and maintenance. The proposed increase would amount to about $72 per year for a $300,000 home. The increase would cost about $261 per year for commercial property valued at $300,000.
Most homes in the district pay 7.65 mills, and the increase would represent a 39 percent hike. The district failed in its bid for a 1.5-mill increase in November 2006.
There are six candidates for the three open board positions for the district.
The candidates are (visit www.columbinecourier.com for candidate positions): Andrew Burt, Christopher Los, Terri Maulik, Jill Nunes, Jenny Rasmussen-Cochran and Keith Sutton.
District residents should have received a mail ballot by now, and they are due back to the district by May 6.
Jeffco Public Schools
The Jeffco school district announced April 18 that it likely will seek a tax increase on the November ballot.
“No official vote has been taken and isn’t expected until sometime this summer,” the district said in an e-mail newsletter. “In 2004, Jeffco voters overwhelmingly supported a $323.8 million bond issue and a $38.5 million mill-levy override. The bond money has been used to build new schools and upgrade others, while the mill-levy money has gone directly to people and programs that support student achievement. In 2004, the district promised voters that it wouldn’t ask for any more increases for at least four years and has kept that guarantee.”
The district’s communication office referred questions on the potential bond and mill election to the statement in the newsletter.
Jeffco Board of Commissioners
District 3 Commissioner Kathy Hartman, a Democrat, is not up for re-election this year, but the other two commission seats, both currently held by Republicans, are up for grabs.
In District 2, incumbent Kevin McCasky is seeking his second term this fall. He faces a challenge from Democrat Jason Bane, a 30-year-old former journalist and communications specialist.
District 1 Commissioner Jim Congrove is not running for re-election. Jeffco Treasurer Faye Griffin is the Republican running for the seat, and state Sen. Sue Windels is running as the Democratic challenger. Windels is term-limited in the state Senate, where she was first elected in 2000. She served one term as a state representative from 1998 to 2000.
1st Judicial District Attorney
Jeffco District Attorney Scott Storey is running for re-election this fall, and is so far is running unopposed. He has served one term in office, and worked in the 1st Judicial District for 17 years prior to his election as DA. He worked in the 4th Judicial District for three years before that.
Three legislative districts directly impact South Jeffco: House Districts 25 and 28, and Senate District 22. Sen. Mike Kopp, R-Littleton. has represented the district since 2006 and plans to run again in 2010.
House District 25
Rep. Rob Witwer, R-Evergreen, has served just one full term in the state House, but he is not running again. Two Republicans may square off in a primary in August to try and capture Witwer’s seat: Cheri Gerou of Evergreen and Eileen Diepenbrock of Arvada. Gerou made it onto the ballot at the recent Jeffco GOP County Assembly, but Diepenbrock didn’t, according to Jeffco GOP Chair Renee Nelson. She said Diepenbrock will likely try to petition onto the primary ballot.
“Cheri’s campaign manager is going to be Rob Witwer,” Nelson said. “Her chances doubled with that.”
The Republicans have a numbers advantage in House District 25, according to the latest figures filed with the secretary of state’s office. There are 21,512 Republicans compared to 13,964 Democrats in the district, along with 16,548 unaffiliated voters. But the Democrats are not going quietly. Andrew Scripter of Arvada is running for the seat on the Democratic side.
“He’s a fresh new person, and I think he’s an energetic alternative,” said Dick Barkey, chair of the Jeffco Democratic Party.
Jack Woehr is running on the Libertarian ticket.
House District 28
Littleton Republican Jim Kerr is running for a second term in the seat, but he may have a Republican challenger in August’s primary. Rob Harris of Littleton plans to challenge Kerr, but it’s unclear how he’s going about it. Harris couldn’t be reached for comment, but Nelson questioned Harris’ motives.
“Rob Harris has never contacted the county or state party, and as far as we can tell he’s angry at Jim for one vote,” Nelson said. She added that the party will try to contact Harris, but “it’s just interesting that he wants to run for office but doesn’t understand the protocols involved.”
Republicans outnumber Democrats in this district as well — 19,785 to 11,485 (with 14,478 unaffiliated) — but Barkey said the Democrats have a chance in the district with Thomas Dittemore, as he has run for the seat in the past.
“It’s an uphill battle in a district that is decidedly Republican in terms of voting registration, but Tom stepped up to take the challenge.”
6th Congressional District
Tom Tancredo, the Littleton Republican who has served four terms in the district, is no stranger to controversy. The former presidential candidate has garnered national attention by putting immigration reform front and center, and more recently gained worldwide attention for giving a speech critical of Pope Benedict XVI. On his recent trip to the U.S., the pope called for the U.S. to ensure immigrants lead “dignified lives,” and Tancredo called the comments “faith-based marketing” to recruit more members to the Catholic Church.
Four Republicans are squaring off to fill Tancredo’s seat, which will make the Aug. 12 primary particularly interesting.
Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Parker, Sen. Steve Ward, R-Centennial, Secretary of State Mike Coffman and Wil Armstrong — son of former Sen. Bill Armstrong — are all trying to replace Tancredo.
“That’s one of our biggest, most interesting races,” Nelson said. “It’s interesting they’re not all going through the assembly process, and that’s kind of dividing people in how they’re going to vote.”
Armstrong is not going through the caucus process to get onto the primary ballot and plans to petition his way on instead. Nelson said Coffman will likely petition onto the primary ballot as well, leaving Ward and Harvey as the two who will try to get enough support through the Congressional Assembly on May 17.
Nelson said the party would wait for the primary results to officially support one candidate.
Armstrong and Coffman have both raised nearly $500,000, compared to Harvey’s $78,000 and Ward’s $38,000, according to federal filings.
The Democratic Party is going to make a run at the seat with Henry Eng, who has so far raised about $13,000. Mike Collins, a disabled Vietnam War veteran who was running for seat as a Democrat, had raised a little more than $8,000. He recently pulled out of the race for personal reasons, Barkey said.
The Republican 6th Congressional District Assembly will be at 10 a.m. May 17 at the Douglas County Events Center in Castle Rock. The Democratic 6th Congressional District Assembly and Convention will be May 3 at Dakota Ridge High School. The Democratic State Convention will be May 17 at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, and the Republican State Convention will be May 31 at the Broomfield Events Center.
House District 22
Among the legislative races facing South Jeffco residents this fall, House District 22 shapes to be very interesting.
Incumbent Republican Ken Summers, R-Jefferson County, is trying to earn a second term this fall. Republicans have a numbers advantage in the district (16,818 to 12,822 registered Democrats, with 14,889 unaffiliated voters), but two Democrats will square off in a primary Aug. 12 to face him.
Lakewood Democrat Camille Ryckman and Littleton Democrat Vince Chowdhury each earned enough support at the March 15 Democratic County Convention and Assembly to get on the primary ballot.
“We’re making some inroads down there, and I think this time we have a good shot at it,” said Dick Barkey, chair of the Jeffco Democratic Party. “The fact we have two people going for it is a testament to that. It could be an exciting race.”
Renee Nelson, chair of the Jeffco Republican Party, could not be reached for comment.
This isn’t the first time Chowdhury has made a run at House District 22. He ran for the seat in 2004 — as a Republican. He also could not be reached for comment.
Deadlines and dates:
• May 6: Mailed ballots due back to both Foothills Park and Rec District and Ken-Caryl Metro District.
• July 14: Deadline to register with a political party for the Aug. 12 primary.
• Oct. 6: Deadline to register for the Nov. 4 general election.