[Published June 12, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. An abbreviated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers.]
I have written before about an important petition drive that is underway to put a measure on the November ballot increasing the size of the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners from three to five.
Let me give you a sense of why you should care about this structural change and why you should sign the petition to let the voters decide.
None of the three County Commissioners needs to concern him or herself with your local issues, because you are one of 545,000 constituents. Yes, each commissioner theoretically represents one-third of the county, but the entire county votes for all three commissioners. That is the same way our School Board members are elected. They have five members, each representing one-fifth of the county, but all five are elected “at large” by the entire county. That is what made it possible for a block of three ideologically identical members to be elected at once, because they had the same constituency.
Imagine if our seven-member Colorado congressional delegation was elected statewide instead of by the one-seventh of the state they represent. How much do you think your congressman would need to care about your issues? That’s the situation we have with our Board of County Commissioners (BCC).
But it’s worse than that. Since there are only three commissioners, two of them constitute a quorum, and under Colorado’s “open meeting law,” a quorum of any elected body may not meet or discuss any issue with each other except in a meeting open to the public and announced in advance! Only by enlarging the BCC to five members can we make it legal for them to talk with each other!
Under our state constitution, any county that attains a population of 75,000 or more may increase the size of its board of county commissioners from three to five. Jefferson County is the only large county in the state which has not taken that step, which can only be done by a vote of the electorate.
The Jeffco5 Grassroots committee, of which I’m a member, has been circulating a petition since January to get a measure on the ballot to (1) increase the BCC from three to five members and (2) elect them by district instead of at large.
That petition drive ends on June 30th, so it is crucial that 18,000 eligible voters have signed that petition by the end of this month.
If you have not yet signed this petition, which merely puts the question on the ballot so that voters can decide, then come to any of the following Jeffco Public Library branches this Saturday and do so. Those branches are: Belmar, Columbine, Evergreen, Golden, Lakewood and Standley Lake. Our volunteers will be at tables in front of each of those branches to witness your signature. Tell your friends and bring them with you. This is important!
You can also come by our office on South Golden Road and sign the petition.