Storey, McCasky clash over term limits

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By AJ Vicens

An effort by Jeffco District Attorney Scott Storey to extend term limits for his office might be over before the question even goes to voters.

Storey, who began his second term in January, has been trying to get support to extend limits for his and the sheriff's office to three terms, or 12 consecutive years. Current law allows for two consecutive terms, or eight years, for all Jefferson County elected officials.

Storey needs voters' approval to extend term limits, and he could either get on the November ballot by petition, or the question could be placed on the ballot with a majority vote by the county commissioners.

But Commissioner Kevin McCasky is blocking Storey from getting on the commissioners' agenda to ask for a formal vote on the issue, as long as the ballot question pertains only to the district attorney and the sheriff.

"I sit here a frustrated and confused elected official," Storey said at a meeting of the county's elected officials May 14. He detailed his efforts to reach out to all three commissioners to discuss his proposal, and presented a May 10 e-mail he sent to the commissioners formally asking to be on an upcoming agenda for an up or down vote. He said he never got a response from the commissioners.

"I get the message that Commissioner McCasky refuses to allow the district attorney or the sheriff to be on that agenda," Storey said. "I'm obviously a little confused and frustrated by that."

"The feedback that I'm getting is that the only person who wants to be on the ballot is you," McCasky said to Storey. "I believe this is a matter of general governance. Any ballot question is going to include every (elected official)."

McCasky said that although he is the commission’s chairman and has "great deference" in setting the agenda, the board rules by majority, implying that a majority of the commissioners didn't want Storey on the agenda.

Storey asked Commissioner Faye Griffin if she voted to keep him off the agenda.

"I did not understand what was going on," Griffin said. "I have no problem putting that on the agenda."

Commissioner Kathy Hartman missed the May 14 meeting because she was at a state meeting. In a later interview, she said that Storey should get time on the agenda.

"I believe elected officials should be able to request time on our agenda for any item they think they need to bring before us," Hartman said. "I'm not going to pre-decide ahead of the (hearing) that it's an inappropriate item."

At the May 14 meeting, McCasky told Storey that extending term limits is a question bigger than any individual.

"This isn't about you, and it isn't about (Sheriff) Ted Mink," McCasky said. "We all ran knowing we had term limits. If term limit extension is appropriate for one elected official, it's appropriate for all."

McCasky also told Storey during the meeting that bringing the question to the commissioners for a vote would be a "futile exercise."

"The issue isn't so much our disagreement on (the ballot question) but being shut off the agenda," Storey said. "Even out of just courtesy, to allow the sheriff and I to put this on the agenda. We should have that opportunity."

At one point, Storey suggested he would not himself seek a third term but later conceded he was just “making a point” and that he is interested in running again.

After the contentious May 14 meeting, Storey said he'll probably try again at some point to get the question to voters.

After the meeting, McCasky said voters should be able to decide about extending term limits in "one fell swoop" for all elected officials, and that he's not backing down from his position. He said he'd support a ballot question that has three questions on extending term limits: one for the district attorney, one for the commissioners, and one for the rest of the elected officials. As of right now, many of the elected officials don't want their offices listed on a ballot question to extend term limits, McCasky said.

Colorado voters established term limits for all local elected offices by approving Amendment 17 in 1994. Since then, 53 counties have successfully removed or extended term limits for one or more offices, according to Colorado Counties Inc., a lobbying group. All term limits remain in place for Jeffco officials.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.