Homework: Kids voting November 03, 2008

Mesa County residents will decide on 1A

Megan Garchar, 10, a fifth grade student at Rim Rock Elementary School

On Nov. 4, Mesa County residents will make a decision: three or five county commissioners?

To consider going from three to five, Mesa County had to have a population of 70,000 or more. The county is nearly double that amount. If this issue passes, it will take effect in 2008, but we won’t see the election of the two new commissioners until 2010, in the next general election.

If the initial measure passes, then residents of Mesa County get to decide between two methods to add commissioners..

Method one is to have three commissioners elected by the people in their district and two at-large elected by all voters of the whole county.

Method two is to elect five commissioners residing in their districts. These members would be elected by voters of the whole county.

One of the main issues Mesa County residents have brought up is that Mesa County is growing and people are wondering, “Are three commissioners really enough for a county this size?”

According to political science professor John Redifer, “Three commissioners for a county this size is not unusual.” He pointed out that only a few other Colorado counties have five commissioners.

Mesa County had a population of 114,573 in the last census. Currently, there are about 140,000 residents, and according to estimates, the county could grow to 209,628 people by 2020.

Other people argue that because the county is the size that it is, three are not enough to make decisions.

On the other hand, some people think it’s unnecessary.

Janet Rowland, Mesa County commissioner, thinks there is no way to create districts that will give rural representation. Also,  meetings that might now take one hour might take three hours, since everyone has to voice their opinion, Rowland said.

“More chiefs equals more Indians, which adds to cost of government, and timeliness of decision making,” said Craig Meis, Mesa County commissioner.

As for the money issue, it will cost an additional $174,274 for commissioner salary and benefits. The money would come from the county budget, and they’ll have through 2010 to budget in this expense.

“It’s expensive, but approximately one-tenth of 1 percent of the overall County budget,” said Lyle Dechant, Mesa County attorney.

Dan Robinson, candidate for county commissioner in District 1, pledged $10,000 out of his salary to help defray the cost, if he were elected.

“I see advantages and disadvantages,” said Steve Acquafresca, Mesa County commissioner, who has not yet formed a strong opinion for either side. 

All three commissioners say that even though they might not vote for it, they fully support the people’s decision. So remember, whatever side you choose, it is important to vote .

Megan Garchar is a Rimrock Elementary student reporting on election issues for The Daily Sentinel in conjunction with Kids Voting of Mesa County.


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