Montezuma votes to eliminate term limits for mayor, trustees

Town hall hosts in-person voting with social distancing precautions

MONTEZUMA — The voters of the tiny, tight-knit Summit County town of Montezuma on Tuesday approved a ballot measure to eliminate the Colorado constitutional cap on term limits for municipal seats.

The measure, approved 16-9, authorizes current and future Montezuma mayors and trustees to serve an unlimited number of consecutive terms in office.

“The reason that we put to vote for no term limits is because, as you can see with this election, we had five seats and five people running,” Montezuma town clerk Tanya Becker said Tuesday night. “So the interest in being part of the board especially is somewhat limited up here. We didn’t want to have to exclude people who were interested in continuing to serve on the board because of term limits.”

Thanks to a 1994 amendment to the Colorado Constitution, all municipal elected officials — excluding judges — are limited to serving two consecutive terms in office, except if the term of office is two years or shorter, in which case officials are limited to serving three consecutive terms in office. Terms are considered consecutive unless they are four years apart. Municipal voters, such as those in Montezuma, can modify or eliminate term limits through a local election.

Becker said with the approval of the ballot measure, Mayor Lesley Davis and trustees Levi Corrigan and Jake Still would be able to run for their current seats in 2022, at which point they would have met the previous term-limit criteria.

As for the results of the five trustee candidates who ran to fill five seats, James Davis and Noah Landwehr each received 24 votes while Benjamin Becker, Roberta Maldonado and Still won 23 votes.

Amid the ongoing social distancing measures due to the new coronavirus pandemic, Becker said she and the town’s election officials took “all of the necessary precautions” to hold a safe election for all those voters who chose to cast their ballots in person at the town hall, a small log cabin, allowing one voter in at a time. In total, Becker said just over a dozen people came to vote in person while 14 people voted absentee after the town clerk emailed voters in recent weeks informing them of the absentee option. Of the 16 absentee ballots the town sent out, Becker said only two were not submitted.

“We had a great day, and democracy beats everything else out, so we were really happy to open our town hall for people who chose to come into a polling place,” Becker said.

“The issue we have is that we are all friends up here, and everyone who comes in wants to chat a little bit because I think we are all kind of feeling the loss of our socialization up here in Montezuma,” the town clerk added. “So this was an opportunity for people to chat a little bit in general. … The election judges had masks. We had gloves. We had hand sanitizer. We had everyone stay outside on the deck. We had a stop sign on the front of our door that led into the building itself. So I think we did a great job. …

“I had one voting booth for one voter at a time. We had chairs set up on our deck that were 6 feet apart, but we never really had enough people to take advantage of that. People kind of trickled in throughout the day, and we didn’t have any issue.”

Ballot Language

Shall the term limits imposed by Article XVIII, Section 11 of the Colorado Constitution be eliminated in the Town of Montezuma, so that the present and future elected Mayor and Trustees of the Town of Montezuma will be authorized to serve an unlimited number of consecutive terms of office?

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