Summit County: Once again DA looks to extend term limit to 12 yrs.
Ryan Summerlin August 12, 2011
Summit County and Fifth Judicial District voters will likely see a question on extending the district attorney’s term limit from two terms to three on the ballot this November, with all four counties in the district showing support for the measure.
Summit and Lake counties led the charge, approving the question for this year’s ballot, while both Clear Creek and Eagle county governments indicated to DA Mark Hurlbert they will support it as well.
Hurlbert tried to get the question of term limit extensions to voters in 2009, but was stonewalled by Lake County commissioners who told the Summit Daily at the time their lack of a personal or professional relationship with the DA made them turn for direction to their residents, who supported the two-term limit.
Lake County Commissioner Dolores Semsack said the board let the citizens decide this year and saw general support for a term-limit extension question.
Governments of all four of the Fifth Judicial District counties, Lake, Summit, Eagle and Clear Creek must agree to put the term extension question on the ballot for the measure to appear before voters.
The Summit Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously this week to put the question on the ballot in November. Commissioners said with all of the county’s other elected officials on three-year term limits, it made sense to have some consistency.
Hurlbert was appointed DA in 2002 and won his first election in 2004. If a term limit extension is passed, he will be up for re-election in 2012.
Colorado is the only state in the country that imposes term limits of any kind on its district attorneys, due to a voter-approved amendment to the Colorado Constitution passed in 1994 that imposed a two four-year term limit on all elected officials other than judges.
“The consensus around the country on this issue is that putting term limits on DAs is a very bad idea as you lose career prosecutors and extremely talented and experienced elected DAs,” executive director of the Colorado District Attorneys Council Tom Raynes stated in an email. “When term limits impacted Colorado, we lost Bill Ritter as DA for Denver, Stu VanMevren, the 30-year DA of Fort Collins, Gus Sandstrum, 20-plus years in Pueblo (and others). These were highly respected DAs we lost merely because voters, at that time, could not choose to keep them.”
Both Hurlbert and the Adams/Broomfield counties’ DA will be asking voters to extend their term limits from eight years to 12 in November. Six of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts have all ready approved three-term limits for DAs and Pueblo voters removed district attorney term limits all together.
In his two-and-a-half terms in office, Hurlbert has led and continues to lead the prosecution of several high-profile cases in Summit County, including that of Dennis Flint, who was tried on charges of possession of child pornography as well as the ongoing prosecution of Dale Bruner, who is accused of killing his wife last November.