Voters will decide extended term limits for 3 offices

Former sheriff, DA support 12-year cap for those offices, coroner

By LE ROY STANDISH

Two years ago, there was an effort to remove term limits for the Mesa County sheriff.

Now there is a push to extend the term limits — from two to three four-year terms — for the sheriff, the county coroner and the district attorney.

Former Mesa County Sheriff Riecke Claussen, former Mesa County District Attorney
Terry Farina, former Grand Junction Police Department Deputy Chief Harry Long and other people asked the Mesa County Commission on Monday to place the question on the November ballot.

The commission unanimously approved the question for the fall ballot.

“I just think it makes a lot of common sense,” said Farina, who served three terms.

“Look at all the people who are here to support this issue. None of them have anything (monetarily) to gain,” said Claussen, who served three terms as Mesa County sheriff.

The arguments were much the same as two years ago, although voters decided, 13,317 to 12,432, not to eliminate the term limit for sheriff. In 2005, voters also decided, 20,353 to 16,92, not to eliminating term limits for the coroner’s office.

John Crouch, a former Mesa County commissioner who was not at the meeting, said term limits need to remain.

“Term limits have served us extremely well. We have worked hard to have them enacted. It doesn’t mean there aren’t people who come through who could serve us well with an extended term,” Crouch said. “But we shouldn’t make a mistake of exempting one class of elected officials over another because we like them and we think they are doing a good job. They can become entrenched.”

Sitting Commissioner Craig Meis raised the question of how much taxpayers are charged each time a term limits elimination or extension question is placed on the ballot. In 2007, the county’s voters paid an extra $56,095 for the question to be asked, said Janice Rich, Mesa County clerk and recorder.

“How many times do you go to the citizens to ask them such questions?” Meis asked, adding that he had not heard an outcry from residents for an extra term for the office-holders.

Commissioners Steve Acquafresca and Janet Rowland said they supported giving residents the opportunity to vote on the question.


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