Breckenridge group pushes for end to council term limits
summit daily news
BRECKENRIDGE – A group of Breckenridge residents is working to get a question on the November ballot asking voters to abolish term limits for members of the town council.
“I have a concern that one of these elections, we’re not going to have a slate of qualified, motivated candidates,” said local restaurant owner Dick Carleton, who is leading the citizens’ group. “What I’m really hoping to accomplish is to put the best people possible up there governing us and making those decisions that affect all of our lives and affect our community.”
The group, made up largely of leaders in the Breckenridge business community, will need to collect more than 400 signatures to get the question on the November ballot.
Breckenridge currently has a limit of two, four-year terms or 10 years for officials appointed mid-term and then elected twice.
Residents backing the measure say they trust the electorate to pick the best leaders, whether they are incumbent or not, but already others are taking a stand on the opposing side.
“In a community that doesn’t get a lot of interest at council meetings, the worst thing you could do is leave it in the hands of special interest like the ones that are proponents of this (measure),” said Dave Rossi, a former Breckenridge Town Councilman. “It makes it easy for (a well-organized industry or association) to coast to reelection over and over again. That certain group pulls out their voter list, they know exactly who goes to the poll. To me, that’s the ultimate definition of community disenfranchisement.”
Rossi said he has talked to others in the community who also oppose the idea and plans to campaign against the measure if it does end up on the ballot.
Two sitting council members – Eric Mamula and Jeffrey Bergeron – are term limited in the spring under current law.
Bergeron said he didn’t want to comment on the issue because it affects his seat, but added he didn’t know whether he would run again even if the measure did pass.
Term limits were first imposed in Breckenridge, along with the rest of Colorado in 1995 when voter-approved Amendment 17 to the Colorado constitution went into effect.
“We’re an independent group of people that live here in Breck,” Carleton said. “I think we can make better decisions than the state can make for us. I think we should put it to a vote of the people. The electorate will elect the best people on the ballot regardless of whether they’re incumbent or not.”
Several municipalities, including Boulder and Denver, have voted to abolish or extend term limits, taking advantage of a provision included in the amendment, giving locals the power to vote on whether to uphold term limits in their own jurisdictions. Several other localities, including Frisco and Blue River, have voted down similar measures.
Breckenridge residents looking to add their names to the petition should contact Carleton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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