Thursday, November 11, 2010

UPDATE: 'We will never fully know' why term limits passed, says county commissioner

Posted By on Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 10:05 AM

Law Week Colorado weighed in yesterday with a list of other Colorado counties asking for term-limit modifications that hugely failed, in the same election that saw El Paso County's questions enjoy a crushing victory.

Nearly 62 percent of El Paso County voters voted yes to approve the term-limit extension.

A ballot measure with a similar purpose but different wording failed by wide margins in the 8th Judicial District, which includes Larimer and Jackson counties.

The Larimer County measure read:

"Shall the term limit of the district attorney of the eighth judicial district (Larimer and Jackson counties) be modified from two consecutive terms to three consecutive terms?"

The measure failed with about 70 percent of voters giving a thumbs down.

Ballot measures in three rural districts proposed eliminating DA term limits entirely. All failed by wide margins.


  • Hisey

In an e-mail conversation, chair of the Board of County Commissioners Dennis Hisey says that the county term limit question mainly passed due to a tide of support for incumbents, as well as Republicans. He denied that the deceptive wording of the question, implying that the county officials already serve three terms that they were to be limited to, had anything to with the vote's outcome.

"Political junkies from around the state watch El Paso County because we take our politics fairly seriously and have a pretty sophisticated electorate," Hisey writes. "The voters are pretty good at assigning motive, and it would be a mistake to underestimate their ability to understand an issue, or think you are going to get something past them."

Of course, I had to ask: Then why try to get something past them?

"Maybe I am just naïve, or assuming too much because I live in the political world, but term limits have been in effect for almost 20 years now. I have trouble believing people were not aware of them.

"But no the question was not worded to confuse, it was almost the exact wording of a successful ballot question in Weld County," writes Hisey. "We did use the wording from a successful measure — not one that failed — so to that degree we did put something out there that we thought might have a chance of passing."

In the end, it appears the county will sneak away with its stolen victory, and hope for the storm to blow over. Hisey says that the media widely reported on the questions' language, and that voters have a responsibility to be informed. Of course, this is harder to do when the county's Blue Book failed to mention any details of Questions 1B, 1C and 1D in a timely manner.

To see if people felt deceived, all one has to do is glance at the comments on the Gazette's story. It seems people don't take well to their commissioners acting on their own behalf, as opposed to the voters'. As user taxed2death wrote: "I did read the ballot book beforehand and felt I was limiting, not extending, the freaking term limits. Fool me once, county ..."

County term limits
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