Home Page

EDITOR'S DESK: How one person sees the election ballot

By Kenyon Jordan

        People are voting right now. Here's what I think:
       - 1A (county ballot issue) - YES. If there was any “fat” in the County Parks budget, it was melted out by major cutbacks years ago that included the near-closure of the Bear Creek Nature Center. In planning 1A, county commissioners and their hired staff did a good job of identifying park needs (including upgrades for the Nature Center and other parts of Bear Creek Regional Park), and I like their strategy of using the TABOR refund money to leverage funds from other sources.
       - 1B (county ballot question) - NO. This was a tough call. Stormwater needs are undeniable, due to government neglect for decades. I was a big fan of the regional, volunteer-task-force effort that put this plan together, but too many doubts have surfaced about the final product. Although it's nice that the fee rate would be frozen for 20 years, it

would still work like a property tax, hitting commercial entities significantly harder. The proposed Pikes Peak Rural Drainage Authority (PPRDA) is modeled after the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA). So why wasn't its sales-tax method used as well? We need to support businesses in our beleaguered economy, not further hamper them. Another concern I have is the haphazard nature of the ballot question's projects list, which rose from 89 in early August to 114 scarcely a month later. Many of these were added “at the last second,” as a City Engineering official told the Westside Pioneer - in large part because Mayor Steve Bach, opposing the task force's fee-based, non-city-first philosophy, didn't want city staff to be involved initially. That's a problem in itself and could loom again in the future. (See the Pioneer's Question 1B news article; the update paragraph is in bold.)
       Another frown-inducer: Not all the county is participating in what's described as a countywide drainage control effort. Monument and Palmer Lake are on the sidelines, at least for now. So how does the PPRDA fairly account for drainage from nonparticipating communities that affect participating ones?
       Finally, the ballot language itself leaves uncertainties. True, the PPRDA intergovernmental agreement (IGA), which the participating governments signed off on, explains key aspects such as the rate structure and impervious surfaces. But the IGA is not referenced in 1B, nor has it been elaborated on for voters.
       - 1C (county ballot question) - NO. Just because current Sheriff Terry Maketa created problems for himself is an insufficient reason to limit county sheriffs going forward to only two terms. If there is one position where I think it's truly beneficial for an elected official to stay in office as long as people want him - building law-enforcement experience and an understanding of the citizens who depend on him - it's the sheriff.
       - Amendment 67 (state-initiated constitutional amendment) - NO. “Personhood” for fetuses is a heart-warming idea, and abortion is by definition a sad affair. Nevertheless, the goal of a working society should be to achieve some kind of balance. Pregnancy is a big deal, not to be taken lightly. Too many kids are born without a chance, to mothers without a clue. Sure, those kids could be adopted, and some are, but there are too many bureaucratic obstacles in the way of that happening as often as it could. The matter of a pregnant woman's freedom to make her own decisions cannot be discounted, either. So the option to abort seems to be permanently with us, like it or not. What I'd like to see is a state law that limits how late this can happen. Have you ever seen a photo of a fetus after six months? Would you want to be the one who chokes out that life? Two trimesters at the least are plenty of time for a would-be mother to make her own call.
       - Amendment 68 (state-initiated constitutional amendment) - NO. It doesn't affect our area, other than the vague prospect of dumping cartloads of money into schools statewide by adding casinos at existing Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo racetracks. A glaring concern for me is that the ballot language does not provide definite protections for the affected towns/neighborhoods from the impacts of enlarged gambling venues. Nor is the ownership group local. I wouldn't want people in the above three counties to vote for something like this to happen to us here (regardless of how we felt about it), so it doesn't seem right to do it to them.
       - Proposition 104 (state-initiated law) - NO. Let's be realistic. Transparency is great, but certain negotiations over pay would be hampered by being in the public eye. Let the negotiators come out of closed sessions with a clear explanation of what they did, and the public can act upon what the school boards ultimately decide. Elected-official recalls are not unheard of in these parts, as we all know.
       - Proposition 105 (state-initiated law) - NO. The world has to eat, and genetically engineered food crops have the benefits of resisting insects and improving nutrition. There is no evidence that the practice has ever poisoned anyone. Just because some over-thinkers get alarmed easily and want America to be like Europe, we should not saddle the food industry with a needless labeling regulation that would also raise government costs to enforce it.
       - Local races for state office - I'll make this one real simple. I'm voting against the Democrats. Why? My question back is, what have they done to earn my trust? Controlling both houses and the Governor's Office for four years - in a state with mostly Republican voters in nearly all the areas outside Denver, Boulder and Pueblo - should have inspired “reaching across the aisle” on key issues to seek long-term solutions that would work for both sides. Instead, the Dems' control has become an excuse for legislative overreach, despite uncertain economic and social impacts and even, at times, 100 percent Republican opposition in both houses. Examples are added gun controls (which led last year to the recall of John Morse in Senate District 11, to be replaced by Republican Bernie Herpin), costly alternate energy mandates, citizen-type privileges for illegal immigrants, a voter-rights law that invites fraud and, last but not least, a constant quest for more tax money (think back to last year's November election and the Amendment 66 proposal that voters resoundingly defeated). I like Pete Lee, our current District 18 representative, as a person - same goes for Michael Merrifield, our former D-18 rep, now running against Herpin in SD-11. But neither of these gentlemen has spoken against any of the excesses I describe above. They may represent the world view of many in their districts, but I don't believe it's that of Colorado Springs, the region or the state as a whole.
       - County offices - No decision here, as they're all Republicans, running unopposed. (I can hear the Democrats, gnashing their teeth over that.)
       - Retaining judges? - No idea. Luckily, I haven't spent any time in courtrooms. We could vote no on all of them, to “send a message.” But what if all voters did that? Who would we have for judges?
       And there you have it - my election opinion, in a few nutshells. Remember that the ballot deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m., and there are various drop-off locations if you want to save a stamp or don't trust the post office (like me).
       Happy voting!

(Posted 10/23/14, updated 10/24/14; Opinion: Editor's Desk)

Would you like to respond to this column? The Westside Pioneer welcomes letters at editor@westsidepioneer.com. (Click here for letter-writing criteria.)