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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jeffco School Board's Dysfunction Can Be Attributed to the At Large Election of Board Members

[Published Mar. 20, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

You may recall from previous columns that we at Golden Real Estate are supporting the Jeffco5 campaign to enlarge the Board of County Commissioner from 3 to 5 members and — most importantly — to have the commissioners elected by district instead of at large, as at present.

The Jeffco School Board has five members, each of whom theoretically represents a “district” equal to one-fifth of Jeffco’s population. But all five members are elected by all Jeffco voters, not by the voters within their theoretical districts.

Because of this arrangement, it is possible for a single block of candidates from one ideological camp to win a majority of seats in a single election — in fact, that’s quite likely to happen.  And it is what happened this past November.  This time the political balance shifted to the right.  In a future election, it could just as easily shift to the left.

If each board position were elected solely by its district voters, such radical swings would be far less likely. Just as important, the 100,000 residents of each district deserve to have one board member who is responsive and responsible solely to them.  That can’t happen with at large election of all members.  I wish there was a campaign to make that change for the school board as well as for the Board of County Commissioners.


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