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.