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Voters to decide on term-limit extensions

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County commissioners won’t be part of ballot questions

By AJ Vicens

Jeffco voters will decide in November whether the county's elected officials - excluding the county commissioners - will be allowed to serve three consecutive terms, up from the current maximum of two.

The decision by the county commissioners June 2 to refer the question to the November ballot marks an abrupt change from just several weeks ago, when District Attorney Scott Storey couldn't even get on the commissioners' agenda to propose a resolution extending his and other offices' term limits.

"That's all we ever wanted," Sheriff Ted Mink said of the ballot question.

The county's two top law enforcement officials have been trying for months to get the commissioners to refer a question to voters on extending their term limits.

The issue came to a boil at a May 14 meeting of all the county's elected officials, when Storey accused Commissioner Kevin McCasky of keeping him off the commissioners' agenda and preventing him from making his case.

McCasky told Storey at the May 14 meeting that the other elected officials didn't want to ask voters to extend their term limits.

"The feedback that I'm getting is that the only person who wants to be on the ballot is you," McCasky told Storey.

But it turns out that other elected officials are apparently OK with asking voters for a term-limit extension, as long as the commissioners aren't part of the ballot question.

Since Colorado voters approved two consecutive terms as the limit for local elected officials in 1994, the vast majority of ballot questions asking for extensions that include county commissioners have failed, according to Colorado Counties Inc., a lobbying group.

The November ballot for Jeffco voters will list the district attorney's office separate from the other offices, because Jeffco's DA also serves Gilpin County as part of the 1st Judicial District. Another question will then list the sheriff, assessor, clerk and recorder, treasurer, coroner and surveyor.

"It's the right thing to do," Storey said after the June 2 hearing. "I believe that law enforcement (officials) in general need that continuity, that momentum when you take office." Storey, who is about six months into his second term, would not say if he will seek re-election if the ballot measure is approved. "Life takes all kinds of right turns, left turns, and I don't want to make a decision that far in advance."

After the June 2 hearing, McCasky said he never blocked Storey from the commissioners' agenda, and that he was only trying to prevent Storey's proposal on term-limit extensions from getting voted down. He said he needed time to get the other elected officials to support the effort, and Storey was moving too fast.

"There was a serious misunderstanding between me and the district attorney," McCasky said June 5. "Some work needed to be done, and a lot of communication between me and other elected officials needed to occur."

McCasky's position all along has been that voters should decide on term limit extensions for all elected officials at the same time, not just the sheriff's and district attorney's offices.

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