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Petitioners make case for extending term limits

Treasurer, sheriff would be allowed to run for third time if voters give approval


A petition showing support for third terms for the Elbert County treasurer and sheriff was formally presented to the county commissioners at the Aug. 24 BOCC meeting.

The measure would be included on the November ballot and would allow citizens to vote on whether Sheriff Shayne Heap and and County Treasurer Rick Pettit could serve third terms.

Linda Krausert of Elizabeth provided a collection of more than 200 signatures “from the past few days which represent an opinion of support of Elbert County residents for the sheriff and treasurer to serve one more term,” she said at the meeting.

Nearly a dozen citizens stood in turn to voice their opinions, mostly in favor of the measure being included on the ballot.

Bob Lewis of Elizabeth spoke as a proponent of the measure, stating that the current sheriff was worth keeping on longer as he referred to some of the previous sheriffs' records, which included abuse of county funds and escaped criminals.

“He is a tremendous asset to the county,” Lewis said of Heap. “The county would like the opportunity to extend his term one more time.”

Don Draper also spoke in favor of including the measure.

“It's a shame if we have good individuals that we have to fire them after a certain number of years … most jobs that doesn't have to happen,” said Draper, who lives in Elizabeth.

“There's some hesitation in the county around any discussion of term limits,” said Tony Baker of Elizabeth.

“Historically, we've proven that we've been able to elect some low performers … this ballot initiative allows us to continue with our growth and correction of our errors in the past," Baker said.

Although the majority of citizens who shared their perspectives were in favor of including the measure, two were opposed.

Former business consultant Marlene Groves of Kiowa expressed her opposition to the measure.

“In the business world, there's a burn out in management at the corporate level that happens at about the 10-year-cycle.

“I think the people in this county are afraid of change … I think that there are some that would certainly agree that these gentlemen are doing a good job, but we can't be fearful of getting new and better people,” she said.

Elizabeth resident Christine Ware looked to the history of term-limit extensions with the voters to express her concern.

“I disagree with it. It was voted down last time,” Ware said, “and I just think it's a slap in the face of the people that voted it down last time.”

Although the language was not in place for a vote by the commissioners, all three weighed in with their opinions.

“I would support putting it on the ballot once I see what the resolution looks like,” said Commissioner Grant Thayer.

“If it's just only focused on the individuals, that's one thing, if it's focused on the position, that's another thing,” Thayer said.

“Since term limits were put in place, we've had six sheriffs and only two have served more than one term,” said Commissioner Chris Richardson.

“We have an opportunity for the citizens here to decide whether two terms is enough,” Richardson added.

“I look at it as a constitutional right to vote and we hold that right in our hands,” said Commissioner Danny Willcox.

“I just think it's not appropriate for me to judge that based on whatever scenario it is,” Willcox said. “This is a right you have, so I'm in agreement.”


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