Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Let’s Prevent a Repeat of the School Board Election Disaster



I’m sure you remember how the Jeffco School Board was taken over by a conservative voting bloc and how that conservative bloc was replaced by a liberal voting bloc.  Whichever bloc you favored, you surely recognize that this kind of disruptive takeover is not good for the School Board or for the school children.

There’s a simple reason why this whipsaw effect was possible — all five members of the school board are elected county-wide, even though each board member represents a district composed of one-fifth the county’s population.  Do you know which board member represents your part of the county?  Probably not.

The county-wide election of all five members facilitated both takeovers. Did you notice that all five of the current board members were elected with a nearly equal percentages of votes?  That’s because they ran as a bloc and the entire county voted entirely for one bloc or the other. This time the liberal bloc won.  Two years ago it was the conservative bloc, and they were elected by nearly identical percentages.
 
Join me in urging the School Board to put on the ballot a measure which says that henceforth each board member will be elected only by the voters in his or her own district.  That way, each board member will be able to campaign only in his or her district and better represent his or her electorate. The single email address which reaches all five board members is board@jeffco.k12.co.us.
 
The same change should be made regarding county commissioners. All three are currently elected county-wide, so none of them is really accountable to the one-third of the electorate which is in their “district.”  One additional important change should be made, and that is to increase the size of the board to five commissioners.  Because of Colorado’s Open Meetings law, none of the commissioners can discuss county business with each other except at their public meetings, because two members represents a quorum.  Legislators need to be able to confer privately about county matters without breaking the law.  And the districts are already drawn for the School Board, so changing to five districts would be an easy change.
 
A year ago, I promoted a ballot initiative, which failed, to put such a change on the ballot.  However each of these bodies can put such a measure on the ballot by simply voting to do so.  Please join me in convincing each body to take that step.  The single email address to reach all three commissioners is commish@jeffco.us

Published Jan. 28, 2016, in the YourHub section of the Denver Post and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers
 


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