Term-limits extension was the right decision

Tuesday’s votes on extending term limits for three elected positions related to law enforcement may not have been a referendum on the men who currently hold those offices. But by extending the term limits for Mesa County sheriff, district attorney and coroner, voters demonstrated they are not angry or dissatisfied with the three current occupants of those offices.

Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey is the most immediate beneficiary of Tuesday’s vote. Thanks to the victory of Referred Measure 1B — by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent — Hilkey is eligible for a third term in office. He can run for re-election in 2010.

District Attorney Pete Hautzinger’s second term isn’t up until the end of 2012. But he would have been term-limited then if not for voters’ approval of Referred Measure 1A. It passed by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.

Referred Measure 1C passed by the widest measure of the three — 65 percent to 35 percent. That means County Coroner Dean Havlik could seek a third term in 2014, if he is re-elected in 2010.

We’re delighted with the prospect of all three running for third terms. Hilkey, Hautzinger and Havlik all run their offices efficiently and with integrity.

But Tuesday’s vote was not just about those three men. Voters recognized that extending the number of terms for these positions makes sense in terms of efficiency and continuity.

All three jobs require people who are more professional than political. Allowing someone who has proved to be capable and efficient to remain in office for a total of 12 years instead of only eight simply means that the office-holder can continue to provide top-notch services to constituents. And, if he or she isn’t rising to the standards that citizens expect, voters have the option of removing that person from office at any of the regular elections.

Mesa County voters did the right thing in extending term limits for the district attorney, sheriff and coroner.


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