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Elected officials conflicted over term limits

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By AJ Vicens

Jefferson County officials appear to have conflicting opinions about District Attorney Scott Storey's bid to extend term limits for his office.

Storey, who began his second term in January, says eight years is not enough for him to accomplish everything he wants to in office. Storey, the district attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin counties, would have to convince voters in both counties to extend the limit for the DA’s office to three terms. He wants the question put to voters in November, but other officials — including the Jeffco commissioners, who have the power to put the question to voters — seem hesitant.

"There's not a consensus on how we want to proceed, or if we want to proceed at all," Sheriff Ted Mink said at an April 9 meeting of elected officials. Mink, who has also expressed interest in serving a third term, said he'd been gauging the interest of other officials in Storey’s proposal.

Pam Anderson, the county's clerk and recorder, said Coloradans are "trending" toward extending term limits for county elected offices, but voter approval seems to depend on how many offices are included in a ballot question.

For instance, Arapahoe County voters extended term limits for county commissioners after voting on the county's other elected officials. In Adams County, all the elected offices were placed on one ballot, and the measure failed. In Boulder County, extended term limits were approved when the sheriff and clerk and recorder were listed separately, and the other elected officials were grouped together. In that case, the district attorney and county commissioners were not listed on the ballot.

In Jefferson County, Storey would have to be listed separately because his job covers more than one county. Ballot questions for the other elected officials could vary, with every office listed together or all of them separately, or any combination in between.

Anderson said she favors extending term limits but would prefer that all the county's elected officials be listed together for "philosophical reasons."

"My personal philosophy is, I have some issues with term limits," Anderson said. "I think elections are term limits."

Commissioner Kevin McCasky said he thinks three terms for elected officials is "appropriate," but McCasky believes any ballot question should pertain to all county offices. He pushed back against previous statements made by Storey that law enforcement jobs like district attorney and sheriff are inherently more specialized and should be considered differently than other county elected offices.

"County commissioner is a technical position as well," McCasky said. "If anyone thinks otherwise, they're mistaken."

County Commissioner Faye Griffin said she favors a three-term limit for the DA and that voters would be more likely to give approval if the commission term limits weren't included in the ballot question.

Jeffco Treasurer Tim Kauffman said he's "generally supportive" of extending term limits but is not sure the political climate in Jefferson County is conducive.

Commissioner Kathy Hartman suggested Mink and Coroner Katherine Loughrey-Stemp should be listed together on a ballot question since their offices are related to law enforcement, saying voters would be more inclined to support extending term limits for law enforcement offices.

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