DA Storey wants to extend term limits for his office

-A A +A
By The Staff

For Jeffco District Attorney Scott Storey, eight is definitely not enough.

Term limits mean that Storey must leave office when his second four-year term ends in 2012, but he’s determined to stick around. And so, he will soon propose to the county commissioners that the limits be extended to let him seek another term.

“As it applies to the DA, and as it applies to those offices that are not necessarily policy-makers but have a specialty attached to them — like the sheriff, for example — I felt like eight years is not enough,” Storey said.

He has broached the subject with the commissioners and County Attorney Ellen Wakeman. Wakeman would have to prepare a resolution for the commissioners to put the proposal on the November ballot in Jefferson County.

Storey said much of his first term was spent getting accustomed to running the office — which has 170 employees, 60 of whom are attorneys — and the second term ends up being shortened by having to look for the next job.

“In effect, you have four years going through transition, then you only have another two years,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with term limits. I felt that eight years is too short, and a 12-year term limit is reasonable.” Storey was first elected DA in 2004 and re-elected in 2008.

Storey said the concept of term limits is appropriate because over time elected officials get “stale.”

“Pretty soon it becomes a job; pretty soon it becomes an entitlement,” Storey said. “Term limits are good because then you’re forced out.”

Sheriff Ted Mink has expressed interest in the idea but so far hasn’t asked the commissioners to approve a resolution. He gave several reasons why he would favor adding another term.

“There are a lot of people out there reluctant to run for office because of term limits,” Mink said. “They could be out of a job in eight years, and they’re not financially in the position to do that. The system leaves it to people in the back side of their career to run for office in these positions.”

Mink agrees with Storey, saying the first four years are spent “getting comfortable and knowledgeable” about the office. If voters in the county don’t like the job the sheriff or any other elected official is doing, “they can vote them out,” Mink said. “If it’s that glaring to the public that the (elected official) isn’t fulfilling the contract with the voters, they can vote them out.”

Mink was appointed sheriff in 2005 and won re-election in 2006. Since he served less than half a term before he was re-elected, he would technically be elected to a second term in 2010.

Wakeman said Storey has approached her about putting together a draft resolution but wouldn’t go into specifics, citing attorney-client privilege. She did say that Storey is in a different position than Mink or any other elected county official — as the lead law enforcement official in the 1st Judicial District, which covers Jefferson and Gilpin counties, Storey would need the approval of voters in both counties to gain the extension, Wakeman said.

Storey said he would talk with the Gilpin County commissioners in the next few weeks.

Jeffco Commissioner Faye Griffin said she will support the resolution when it’s presented.

“The voters are the ones who should choose if a person should stay in office,” Griffin said. “… If the elected official is doing poorly, electors shouldn’t support them.”

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com. Should term limits be extended to three four-year terms? Comment on this story and others at www.columbinecourier.com.