Increase to 5 Commissioners in Jeffco Won’t Make Ballot

We've discussed before in this space the efforts in Jefferson County to increase the number of county commissioners to 5 (from its current 3-member board) — a much more reasonable and representative number for a county that is larger in population than the entire state of Wyoming. A citizen's group called "Jeffco 5" had spent months gathering petition signatures in order to try to get the question on the November ballot, but without using paid signature gatherers, they came up predictably short. As the Denver Post reports:

Jeffco 5, a group led by former Golden City Councilwoman Karen Oxman, submitted approximately 10,000 signed petitions to get its question on the ballot in November. But that total was short of the 17,444 valid signatures that were required, representing 8 percent of the county's population. Oxman previously stated the goal was for 25,000 signatures.

The ballot question would have had voters choose how to elect five commissioners: five district seats, or three districts and two at-large seats.

Currently, the three commissioners represent and reside in their district, but are elected at large. If passed, Jeffco would have joined Arapahoe, Weld, El Paso and Adams as counties with five-person boards.

"It's been very hard for all of us who have worked hard for about two years to make this happen," Oxman said.

The group had been collecting signatures for the past six months after the county commissioners voted against putting the question on the ballot. Oxman said the effort was completely grassroots and that the group didn't pay to hire petitioners.

Failing to gather enough signatures to make the ballot here is more about the inherent impossibility succeeding with an all-grassroots, all-volunteer signature collection process than a rejection of the 5 Commissioners idea. Collecting enough signatures for any sort of large-scale ballot measure is incredibly difficult without a large financial commitment toward paid signature-gatherers, but Jeffco 5 certainly did well with what they had.

Jeffco Commissioner Casey Tighe told the Post that he believes it is only a matter of time before the issue makes it onto the ballot in the near future — perhaps by convincing the current board to place the measure on the ballot in 2016. We can't disagree with that sentiment; moving to 5 commissioners just makes too much sense.

One Community Comment, Facebook Comments

  1. Craig says:

    I know we've had this argument before and disagreed, but it's just not a good idea, expecially from Democrats.  This is a county that is transitioning fast to the Dem side.  They won a County Commissioner seat two years ago with no issues driving the Dem vote or driving votes away from the Rep.  Why, oh why would they like to give gerrymandering a chance to delay what is already happening.    The reality is that for vast portions of the county in incorporated cities, commissioners just don't make that much difference, the City Councils do and they are dominated by Democrats.


    Also remember that if we get stuck with districts, this allows a situation like in Denver with so few at large seats.  Commissioners will feel free to stick the bad stuff in other's districts without having any political blowback.  Four this would allow the four commissioners not representing Lookout Mountain to all all sorts of additional nasty electronic on Lookout Mountain without being accountable to the folks who are being hurt with what is already there.  It's just stupid.  The citizens rejected this once at the ballot box, and now they've rejected by failing to sign petitions.  What makes you think 5 politicians will be any better than 3?  Absolutely nothing.

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