First of all, term limits are a horrible idea. But that's not what I'm here to discuss, so I one start to dig into all the reasons why. But I will address one of them. Term limits result in lawmakers going job-hunting before their time in office is over.
The case in point is Rep. Claire Levy (D-HD13) who is leaving her seat in the State House at the end of October to take a position with the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.
If she had stayed, the 2014 session would have been her last, so some might have trouble seeing the difference.
But I think there is a big difference. And lawmakers who leave their post the year before they are term limited is one of the worst and most damaging elements of our state's system.
And here is why:
Before Levy had announced she would be resigning, the race to replace her in the 2014 election had already begun. Two Dem candidates, Tad Kline (http://www.tadklineforhd13.org/) and KC Becker (http://kcbecker.org/) had already announced their intention to run for the seat next year. But that race, which would have been a spirited and interesting primary, decided by the voters in HD13, will now be decided by a couple dozen Dems on October 19th. If either of them is chosen by the vacancy committee, they will now be the incumbent when caucuses roll around and are unlikely to be challenged. And that isn't right.
The person who serves in this seat for the next 8 years should be chosen during an election, not a back-room coronation.
There is hope, though. Two additional candidates, George Clark and Zane Laubham, have expressed interest in filling the vacancy for the remaining 15 months of Levy's term, but have not declared candidacy for the 2014 race. The vacancy committee has the opportunity, here, to appoint someone who has no interest in keeping the seat for 2015, so that a legitimate election can still be held.
I don't know anything about the candidates (another one of the down-sides of the vacancy process is a low amount of information), but if either Clark or Laubham are willing to commit to not running and they are reasonably qualified for the spot, I would encourage the vacancy committee to select that person and give the voters of HD13 an opportunity to choose their own representative through the normal election process.