Term-limits vote may affect 2010 sheriff’s race

Palisade police chief will run if Hilkey can't seek a third term

The current mail-ballot election provides an opportunity for voters to extend the terms of office for Mesa County’s sheriff, district attorney and coroner.

But Palisade Police Chief Carroll Quarles views that ballot measure as the last chance for Stan Hilkey to remain in office as the sheriff of Mesa County.

“I think this election next month is basically to re-elect the sheriff for another four years, and, gosh, I really don’t have a problem with that,” said Quarles, who announced earlier this year he would run for sheriff in 2010. “If he gets another four-year term, I am just as happy as can be.”

The way the ballot is structured, voters decide on each office individually.

Quarles, 57, said he announced his candidacy thinking next year would be Hilkey’s last in office.

“Should this initiative fail, I will run for sheriff,” Quarles said.

Hilkey said he is not actively campaigning to extend his term of office, but he donated to the Citizens Three Term Initiative for Public Safety campaign as a resident of Mesa County who supports extending the term limits for all three offices by one four-year term.

“As a citizen I believe in the issue,” Hilkey said. “I think there is a big difference between donating to the committee and being on the committee.”

Hilkey is clear on his future if the measure passes.

“If it passes, then I would run for another term and, the good voters of Mesa County willing, I would serve another term, but that is up to them,” Hilkey said.

The ballot measure has its detractors.

“The institution of term limits is good,” said Kent Baughman, a political activist and a former, unsuccessful candidate for the Grand Junction City Council and the Mesa County Commission. “Look who is pushing for term limits and who is asking for it, and it tells you the whole story in a nutshell.”

Many of those who are donating to the campaign are current and former members of the Sheriff’s Department. The names include Undersheriff Rebecca Spies, who donated $300, and Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Heather Benjamin, who donated $100. Also, the security company Foremost Response, which works with the Sheriff’s Department, donated $1,200.

“It isn’t a broad span of John Q. Citizen,” Baughman said. “It makes it look really personal.”


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