Measures 1A, 1B and 1C deserve voters’ support

As Mesa County residents receive their 2009 mail-in election ballots this week, they’ll be confronted with three referred measures on term limits. We hope voters will decide those measures merit their approval. The three will allow Mesa County to retain experienced law enforcement professionals in elected office for 12 years instead of the current eight-year maximum.

Referred Measure 1A would extend the number of consecutive terms that Mesa County’s district attorney can serve from two four-year terms to three terms of four years each. Referred Measure 1B would do the same for the county sheriff, and Referred Measure 1C would do so for the county coroner.

Of the three current occupants of those offices, Sheriff Stan Hilkey is the one who would be most immediately affected by term limits. Unless Referred Measure 1B is approved, he will not be able to seek re-election next year. District Attorney Pete Hautzinger would be prohibited from seeking re-election in 2012 under current rules, while Coroner Dean Havlik would be term limited in 2014, if he is re-elected in 2010.

All three are professionals who have developed important skills and experience during their time in office. It would be a shame to lose that experience because of arbitrary term limits.

We have worked most closely with Hilkey and Hautzinger, and although we have occasionally disagreed with them, we believe they run their offices professionally and serve the citizens of Mesa County well. Havlik appears to be doing so, as well.

If any of the three were not, voters have the option of turning them out in favor of another candidate when they run for re-election. Extending term limits only gives them the option of staying in office four additional years if they convince voters they are doing a good job. It doesn’t guarantee them four more years.

And, unlike elected positions such as county commissioner or state legislator, the three jobs at issue here aren’t primarily political. They require people able to implement state law, handle budgets and manage employees.

Mesa County should allow those who have demonstrated their ability and experience in those realms to serve at least 12 years. Vote ‘Yes’ on Referred Measures 1A, 1B and 1C.


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