by Chet Hardin
As he promised, the newly sworn-in El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn brought up the issue of term limits.
He sought to include in next week's agenda a discussion and vote on placing revised term-limits language on the ballot in November, he said during his first meeting as a commissioner Tuesday morning. “I think that it is very important to resolve this early," he said, adding that he doesn't want the controversial term-limits issue to "negatively hang over" the board.
Members of the board, however, cautioned that it was too early to address the issue, pointing out that in an odd year, such as 2011, it is difficult to predict the cost to the county of a ballot issue — especially this far from the November election. Commissioner Dennis Hisey pointed out that typically the board would address a ballot issue in the summer before the election, and not in January.
Commissioner Amy Lathen worried that “if we do it too early, we won’t have time to have the public input.” Plus, she pointed out, they don’t know what will be on the ballot in 2011 and whether putting this on the ballot will cost the county extra money.
The board requested a briefing from Clerk and Recorder (and former commissioner) Wayne Williams, who said that a mail ballot election runs $500,000. It's an expense that is split up among the municipalities and school districts, etc., that include language on the ballot.
“It depends on who else is on the ballot with you,” Williams says as to what the cost to the county would be. In 2005, he said, the county spent $171,000; in 2007, $251,000; and in 2009, $185,000.
He cautions that it is just too early to know what other governmental entities will be on the ballot, and therefore too early to know with certainty the cost to the county. He does estimate that it could run anywhere from $148,000, if the state and city both are on the ballot, to $300,000. “I don’t think that you will have a bunch of other people join the ballot,” Williams says, so he wouldn’t be surprised if it costs the full $300,000.
"I think that it is important. I made a promise that I would bring it up, and I don't think that it is an issue that will go away. I think that it becomes more distracting as it gets dragged out," says Glenn. "I am committed to voting to put it on the ballot in November."
Glenn points out that it needs to happen this year, to avoid the confusion that will occur if commissioners try to run in 2012 for a third term.
"I think that when you are comparing the cost of the election compared to the cost to the credibility of their leadership, it pales in comparison," Glenn says. "You need to have trust in the leadership, and on this issue, the community feels that something underhanded happened."