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Removing term limits is on agenda

Susan Cunningham

While Oak Creek struggles to find enough candidates to fill its April ballot — much less hold a contested election — its town board will discuss eliminating municipal term limits.

At an Oak Creek Town Board meeting tonight, trustees will consider putting a question abolishing term limits on the ballot for the town’s April 6 election. As of Wednesday, about a week from the deadline for declaring candidacy for that election, two incumbents are the only people to have picked up petitions for the four open seats.

Also Wednesday, incumbent Trustee Bill Paxton was the only candidate who had returned a completed petition, Town Clerk Nancy Crawford said. Mayor Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman also has taken out a petition. The mayoral position and three trustee petitions are up for election in April.

The town asked voters to eliminate term limits in 1998, but the question was defeated 170-103, Crawford said. Term limits were put in place in 1995 through a previous amendment to the Colorado Constitution, she said.

The question was put on the ballot in 1998, Crawford said, because of a lack of candidates.

“It was difficult enough to find people to run for the board, so if people had been on the board for a while but wanted to continue to serve, they wanted that option to be available to them,” Crawford said.

The board is discussing a new ballot question at Rodeman’s request, Crawford said.

Under the existing law, the mayor is allowed to serve a maximum of three consecutive two-year terms, while trustees can serve two consecutive four-year terms.

Crawford said that, in the more than 20 years she’s worked for the town, she couldn’t remember anyone serving more than two terms.

Trustee Mike Kien is serving his second four-year term, and the eight years he will have served by 2006 will be the longest Crawford said she could remember.

The seats up for election include trustee positions now taken by Clyde Moore, elected to a four-year term in 2000; Bill Paxton, elected to a two-year term in 2002; and Jim Eskridge, appointed in June 2003 to fill a vacancy. The mayoral position also is up for election.

In nearby Yampa, term limits were voted out a few years ago, town clerk Janet Ray said.

“The bottom line was, it’s hard enough to get somebody to run, and if you get somebody you don’t not want them to be able to serve because of term limits,” Ray said.

In Yampa, the mayor and five trustee seats are open for the April election. Two petitions for the trustee seats have been picked up, but none has been turned back, Ray said.

Hopeful Oak Creek candidates must get 10 eligible signatures and return the completed petition to Town Hall by March 5.

The Oak Creek Town Board also will discuss an ordinance changing how much the mayor and trustees are paid, an item that has been on the agenda for the past few meetings.

Raising the mayor’s salary to $1,100 a month, a tenfold difference from the current $90 a month salary, and paying town trustees per meeting instead of per month have been discussed.

The Oak Creek Town Board of Trustees meets at 7 p.m. today at Oak Creek Town Hall.

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com


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