Why didn’t you vote for home rule?
EAGLE ” The county is paying for a $4,500 phone survey to try to figure out why voters in November rejected “home rule” county reform, which, among other things, would have expanded the board of county commissioners.
The Colorado Constitution allows a home rule proposal to come back to voters a second time within six months of its defeat. The charter could be revised if it’s taken back to voters.
The Home Rule Charter Commission hasn’t yet decided if they will bring back the proposal in a special election, but it was the drafters of the charter whp pushed for the survey.
In November, 53.5 percent of voters said “no” to the reform proposal which would have created five commissioners instead of three and removed party affiliations from the ballots of county races.
“There was a group outside and inside (the Home Rule Charter Commission) who felt like we need a better understanding of whether there should be revision process or not,” said Don Cohen, Edwards resident and chairman of the commission.
As part of the phone poll, voters will be asked if the county should have five commissioners and if party affiliations should be removed.
They will also be asked if home rule would be too expensive and if it would take rights away from residents ” arguments of opponents of home rule during last year’s campaign season.
The survey also will ask people if the charter was hard to understand. Some say voters perhaps didn’t understand the home rule charter because it is complicated.
Cohen said he believes the framers of the state constitution allowed a second chance for home-rule votes because they understood the charters were complicated.
“For that reason, you get a do-over,” he said. “You have the opportunity for revision to say, ‘Is this what you have more in mind?'”
The survey will start next week and will poll 400 voters.
Former County Commissioner Dick Gustafson, a leading opponent of home rule, said the attempt to bring the proposal back to voters is “sour grapes.”
The voters’ decision in November should be respected, he said.
“I don’t see any reason for it,” he said. “The voters defeated it, not by one or two votes, but by a substantial margin.”
Voters understood the home-rule proposal, Gustafson said.
“I think voters are smart enough to know home rule is a bad thing for Eagle County,” he said.
A special election for the issue would have to happen by May, Cohen said. It would cost as much as $50,000.
There will be a public meeting exploring the prospect of bringing home rule at 6 p.m. Friday at the county building in Eagle.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.