Commissioners can now seek a third term in Eagle County, but will they? |

Commissioners can now seek a third term in Eagle County, but will they?

Kathy Chandler-Henry says no; Jeanne McQueeney still undecided

Joanne Cermak verifies and counts ballots before securing them on Election Day Tuesday in Eagle. Cermak has been working elections since at least 2005, doing most all jobs affiliated with elections, even picking ballots up one year.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The Eagle Board of County Commissioners were pleasantly surprised to see ballot measure 1A pass on Tuesday, allowing them to seek a third term in office.

Most counties in Colorado allow elected officials to serve more than two terms, but in Eagle County, the two-term limit set by the state Constitution has always been enforced.

Eagle County sought to change that this year, asking voters if it would allow commissioners to serve a third term. Commissioners weren’t exactly expecting it to pass, much less by a 15% margin. The results as of 9 p.m. showed 7,043 voters in favor of the third term allowance, with 5,180 against.

“I thought with some of the national distrust, people would just vote no on general purposes,” Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry said. “So I’m pleased to see this affirmation from local voters.”

Chandler-Henry positioned herself as the poster child for the effort, as she herself has already served more than eight years as commissioner due to the fact that she was initially appointed to fill out another commissioner’s term. Chandler-Henry won’t term out until 2024 and has agreed not to run again.

“I hit eight years as of July 1, and that was telling to me, that that would have been it,” she said.

Chandler-Henry is the county’s representative to the Water Quality Quantity Committee, Reudi Reservoir Water and Power Authority, Northwest Colorado Council of Government Economic Development District Board of Directors, Lake Creek Affordable Housing Corporation, FirstNet Governing Board and the Colorado River Water Conservation District Board of Directors.

She is also vice chair of the Public Lands Steering Committee, Healthy Counties Advisory Board Member, Membership Standing Committee Member, Resilient Counties Advisory Board County Board Member and Rural Action Caucus Member.

She said all those board appointments are the result of being in government for a long time, and Eagle County commissioners are disadvantaged in seeking those board appointments due to the fact that they’re not allowed to serve as long as commissioners from many other counties in Colorado.

“There’s only about eight counties that are limited to two terms, so it really puts Eagle County at a disadvantage,” Chandler-Henry said. “Some of those appointments at the national level, like the public lands steering committee, if you’re term limited in the next year or so, you’re not going to get appointed to something like that.”

Chandler-Henry was appointed first in July of 2013, was elected in 2014 to finish out the term of the person she was appointed to fill, was elected to her first full term in 2016, and was reelected in 2020. With the passage of 1A, Chandler-Henry would be eligible to run again in 2024, but says she will not.

“Because of the appointment, I will have essentially had three terms, so it felt right to me, in campaigning for this, to say I’ll be finished in 2024 regardless,” Chandler-Henry said. “It felt to me like the spirit of the ballot issue was 12 years, which is about what I will have had.”

Chandler-Henry said her colleague Jeanne McQueeney, however, will be at the end of her term in 2022 and will be eligible to run again.

“I hope she decides to run again, because she’s really making an impact at the state level with child care and children and family issues,” Chandler-Henry said.

Commissioner Matt Scherr, the newest member of the three-commissioner board, is only one year into his first term. He also said he hopes McQueeney will run again.

“Jeanne is an expert in early childhood education and is very level-headed about governance,” Scherr said.

McQueeney said she hasn’t decided yet if she will run for another term. Her husband, Henry McQueeney, retired in June after 30 years with Eagle County Schools, and the couple is still seeing how Henry’s retirement will affect McQueeney’s work.

McQueeney said the passage of 1A has accelerated the big question — will she run again — but she also said she never felt the issue was about her.

“We tried really hard to have it not be about the three us,” McQueeney said. “So many county commissioners across the state have three terms, and we try to get elected to different leadership roles around the state and the federal level, it takes a while, so we really were looking at this as a good thing for Eagle County, it just elevates the position that you can achieve.”

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