Term-limits targeted in Avon | VailDaily.com

Term-limits targeted in Avon

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

AVON, Colorado ” Avon voters may get to give town council members more time in office.

A citizen’s group wants to change the town charter, either to extend term limits or abolish them altogether. Currently, council members can serve no more than two four-year terms in a row.

The citizen’s group’s argument is that it isn’t efficient to kick out councilors who are serving well, know the issues, know the idiosyncrasies of town government and want to keep working, said Avon resident Sharon Greene.

“If you force people out of office that are productive, you are losing some wonderful experience. It’s a revolving door, always getting newbies,” Greene said. “It’s really kind of hard to get good people interested and serving their community.”

Greene said she and other residents want to see the charter amended so voters at least have the option of voting for incumbents another term ” which never means voters have to keep incumbents.

“If you’re not satisfied, you still have the choice not to vote for them,” Greene said. “But they can keep good people in longer if they want to.”

Mayor Ron Wolfe said that limiting those few people who want to run for office doesn’t make sense for a small town like Avon. Finding people who know the town and its issues and who are willing to run for office can be difficult.

“There are few enough people in any community who want to get elected and deal with what elected officials deal with “the abuse and slander, the fact that the compensation for these jobs is so little, and there is a tremendous amount of effort and commitment,” Wolfe said.

There’s also a steep learning curve for town council members, even for those like himself who have a solid business background in town.

“I had two years of planning and zoning commission, and am in my fifth year on town council, but it takes four or five years to really get on top of what’s going on in a town, even with a knowledgeable background,” Wolfe said.

The citizen’s group plans to hire a professional polling firm this summer to get a better idea of how residents feel about term limits. They want to find out if people think term limits should stay as they are, if they should be extended another term or two or abolished.

The results of the poll will greatly affect what kind of question they’ll petition to have put on the November ballot, if they do it at all.

While councilors are limited to two consecutive four year terms, they can run again after a four year break and serve another eight years.

Council members Amy Phillips, Kristi Ferraro and Tamra Nottingham Underwood are up for reelection this year.

If Avon wants to sell or dispose of any town-owned buildings or property, voters have to approve it first.

Town leaders want to change that. Avon will hold a special election at Town Hall May 6 asking residents if they want to change the part of the town charter that requires voter approval before property or buildings are sold.

With Avon heading into an ambitious redevelopment of its downtown, leaders feel that they need to the freedom to sell or get rid of property without putting it to a town vote every time, Wolfe said.

The charter, as it is now, would slow down realignments of roads and rightaways and would hinder the development of a new Main Street, Wolfe said.

“We won’t have to hold an election to sell property,” spokeswoman Becky Lawlor said. “Elections are also very costly, so if this type of thing needs to be done, it would save money for the town and taxpayers.”

This doesn’t mean the public wouldn’t be involved in decisions though. As with any ordinance or resolution, the town will hold public hearings on all decisions and give residents ample time to voice their opinions, Wolfe said.

“The objective of the town is to have a very transparent public process with very objective reasons,” Wolfe said. ” We want to know they are comfortable, that we are doing the right thing.”

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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