Vote ‘Yes’ on 1A for 5 commissioners

The current effort to increase the size of the Mesa County Board of Commissioners from three to five members was driven in large part by a desire to see more geographic diversity on the commission. People don’t want all of their county commissioners to come from the Grand Junction-Clifton urban core.

Question 1A will enhance the likelihood of more geographic diversity on the commission, even if it can’t guarantee that will happen. Probably no method could be devised under state law that would guarantee such diversity.

But by boosting the number of commissioners to five, the chances increase that one or more of them will come from outside the urban area.

Additionally, if voters choose Method 1 in the second part of Question 1A, they will also raise the chances of getting commissioners from different areas. Method 1 will require three commissioners to be chosen only by voters within their own districts, while the other two commissioners would be elected at large, from all voters in the valley. Having three commissioners elected only by voters within their district will increase opportunities for people from outlying areas, since candidates will have to persuade fewer voters to cast ballots to win election. The three commissioners now must win votes throughout the county.

But geographic diversity isn’t the only reason we support increasing the board from three to five commissioners.

First, it will expand the variety of opinion and breadth of experience on the board. That doesn’t ensure better decisions will be made. After all, people get just as upset at the decisions made by the larger elected bodies that run municipalities and school districts as they do county commissioners. But it does mean more ideas and opinions are almost certainly going to be considered before decisions are made.

Additionally, having five commissioners makes it less likely that two people can effectively form a bloc and determine policy for the entire county, a perennial problem with three-person boards. Having five commissioners makes it imperative for the commissioners to develop coalitions, and those coalitions are more likely to change from issue to issue.

Adding two commissioners will increase the cost to the county approximately $174,000 a year. But the county won’t raise taxes to pay for it. The money will come from elsewhere in the budget.

We believe the time has finally come to increase the number of county commissioners from three to five, and we urge county residents to vote “Yes” on Question 1A and choose Method 1 in the second part of the question.


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