Adjust term limits for officials in Basalt
An obscure, elected commission didn’t do any favors for Basalt residents when it drafted a home rule charter for voters to consider in 2002.
The proposed charter, which was approved, was moot on the topic of term limits, so the town has deferred to the Colorado Constitution on the issue. Section 18-11 of the constitution states that no elected member of a governing board shall serve more than two consecutive terms in office. However, the Colorado Municipal League — an association of cities and towns — says in its guidelines for candidates that changing office from council to mayor or vice versa is a “common practice” in local government. It advises its members that the offices are different, so a person is limited to two terms on the Town Council and two terms as mayor.
Term limits became an issue in Basalt in 2012 when former Mayor Leroy Duroux contemplated a run for council after he served two terms as mayor. Duroux looked into rules on term limits, with the assistance of Town Attorney Tom Smith, and determined he wasn’t eligible for the council. Smith said recently he didn’t tell Duroux he couldn’t run. He said he told him the issue wasn’t “black and white.”
Town Manager Mike Scanlon suggested that Basalt put a question on the ballot to remove any ambiguity of its term limits. The state Constitution gives towns and cities the power to set their own term limits through their home rule charters.
Basalt officials created a five-point question that essentially addresses the key issue of whether the mayor seat and council seats should be considered separately for the sake of term limits. A “yes” vote would allow a person to serve two terms of four years each on the council and two terms of four years each as mayor — a total of 16 consecutive years.
The mayor generally comes from the ranks of the Town Council, much like the U.S. president often has previous experience in Congress or as a governor. A council member gains seasoning then decides to run for mayor after learning the issues and getting a feel for running a meeting. Should that person be booted out of the mayor’s office after four years because of term limits? We think not.
And it’s critical to realize that the people of Basalt can vote a member out of the Town Council or the mayor’s post as quickly as they voted them in.
We urge voters to vote “yes” on the ballot question.
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