Moffat County term limit extensions being discussed

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Overview

County Commissioners:

John Kinkaid, District 1 — Elected 2013

Chuck Grobe, District 2 — Elected 2013

Tom Mathers, District 3 — Re-elected to second term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

County Sheriff:

Tim Jantz — Re-elected to second term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

County Assessor:

Robert Razzano — Elected to first term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

County Clerk and Recorder:

Lila Herod — Elected to first term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

County Treasurer:

Elaine Sullivan — Elected to first term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

County Coroner:

Kirk McKey — Elected to first term in 2011, term expires in 2015.

According to the Moffat County website.

A 10-person committee wants Moffat County voters to extend the term limits from two terms to three for county elected officials, which means an additional four years in office.

Nancy Hettinger, an administrative assistant at the Moffat County Sheriff's Office, presented the committee’s mission to the Moffat County Commission at its weekly meeting Tuesday, saying that she’d like voters to decide on the issue in November.

“It’s hard to get quality people in a small community to run for office,” Hettinger said, noting that it would give the current candidates in office an opportunity to run for one more term, which is longer than the current law allows.

“Even though you run, you can still get beat,” she said.

The commissioners thought it was a good idea, though they didn’t necessarily want their term limits extended.

“Not the commissioners,” said Tom Mathers, who represents District 3.

The ballot measures that Hettinger presented to the county board included the commissioners. It also included measures to extend the term limits for the county sheriff, clerk, treasurer, assessor and coroner.

Rather than lumping all elected official’s term limit extensions into one measure, she’s asking that each position be presented as its own ballot question. That means voters will have to decide on each position individually.

“If you put it all on one (measure), I don’t think it will stand a chance,” Hettinger said. “I think we should get it to the county attorney and let her go over it.”

The process still is in its infancy. Hettinger plans to present it to the commissioners again in July. Sept. 6 is the last day to put measures on the November ballot.

The question already has been presented to Moffat County voters and failed twice in the past — once in 1996 and the other in 2002.

In 1996, all offices were included on one ballot measure, and in 2002, there was a measure for each office.

“I just don’t think that the term limits are right. I think if the person is doing a good job, and they seem very qualified for the position, I think you should be able to be re-elected,” said Carol Beuner, who sits on the committee.

She thinks the commissioners shouldn’t be allowed to extend their terms.

“There are certain positions like the assessor's office, I think there are very few people in town that are qualified to run that office,” Beuner said.

Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said he tries to stay out of term limit discussions, and he’s happy with the current law.

“We knew what we were getting into when we got into office and knew that we were term limited,” he said. “It’s been brought up to me before. It’s been kind of a growing conversation. I’ve tried not to delve in too deep on it.”

He thinks the people of Moffat County like the idea of a certain amount of term limits, Jantz said, adding that he thinks voters will respond to what they believe.

“They’re very active in local politics. That’s what I appreciate about our community,” Jantz said. “They’re not afraid to come forward.”

Neighboring counties such as Routt, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties eliminated term limits for all of their elected officials.

Routt County put it to a vote in the 1990s, and it failed. It was added to the ballot again in 2000, and voters eliminated term limits. Rio Blanco eliminated elected officials terms in 1999, and Garfield did away with term limits in 1998, according to data compiled by Mesa County.

Mesa County slowly has extended term limits for its elected officials. In 2009, voters approved extending term limits to three terms for the county district attorney, sheriff and coroner.

For more information contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.

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