Trustees Consider Term Lengths, Ballot Initiatives

The Town of Lake City Regular Municipal Election will be held Tuesday, April 3, 2018 with four four-year term positions on the ballot. Three of these terms will be trustee positions with the fourth position being that of the mayor. Nomination petitions are available at Town Hall, 230 N Bluff Street beginning Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 8 a.m.
Nomination petitions must be returned and filed with the Town Clerk’s office no later than Monday, January 22 at 5 p.m. Candidates must be a registered elector in the Town of Lake City, must be 18 years of age on election day and must have resided within the incorporated limits of the Town of Lake City for twelve consecutive months immediately preceding the date of the election.
The trustees whose terms have expired are Steve Ryals, Richard Moore and Henry Woods with Ryals and Moore having served four-year terms each and Woods having served a two-year term. Mayor Vierheller has completed a four-year term and is eligible to run again should he choose to do so.
At the December 20 regular Board of Trustees meeting, Mayor Vierheller and the trustees gave their ideas for potential ballot initiatives to be voted on in April. Present at the meeting were Vierheller and trustees Richard Moore, Jeff Heaton, Marty Priest, Jud Hollingsworth and Henry Woods, with Trustee Ryals absent.
Trustee Hollingsworth began the discussion suggesting that he would like to see on the upcoming April ballot a reduction in trustee term lengths from 4-year terms to 2-year terms, as well as reducing the
number of trustees from 6 to 4.
“I’ve been talking to different citizens and I think if that were the case more people would be interested in running,” Hollingsworth said. “I believe also that if we had 4 trustees rather than 6, it would be a more accurate representation of our population.”
Hollingsworth stated as well that he believes a 12-year total limit on terms would be prudent, and it was agreed that the issue would be tabled until the January 3 meeting and discussed in workshop.
Trustee Woods took his turn to speak, saying, “There’s always a lot of talk about economic development, with the whole ATV thing. How would you all feel about possibly having a ballot initiative allowing marijuana shops in Lake City now?”
An immediate response came from Trustee Heaton, who said, “I’m totally against it. I don’t want drugs in this town. I don’t care if it’s state legal or not. I don’t want it around my grandkids and I don’t want it around school kids. You can get it in Gunnison; it’s only 50 miles away and you can load up and bring it back. But I don’t want it sold here.”
Hollingsworth spoke next, saying that he totally respected what Heaton had to say, but also felt it is important for the citizens to have a voice in the matter.
Moore asked, “Didn’t we just have this on the ballot fairly recently?”
Mayor Vierheller confirmed that the issue was on the ballot three years ago.
“I’m fine with putting it back on ballot if we need to, but it seems a little quick,” Moore said. “I’m fine with seeing what the community says, but I feel like there is a contrast of reasoning when the argument against [having ATVs on the ballot again] was that it was voted down several times before. Marijuana was voted down before, so why put it back on the ballot right away?”
Heaton said, “I have talked to people in my business, time and time again. People who come here and stay here – RV, people, tourists – they emphatically said if it comes here they will go somewhere else. It will hurt us bad. The pot is in Gunnison. It’s there, go get it. We don’t need to lose the tourist base that we have. I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of people, all year long. I just can’t believe were talking about this.”
Woods retorted, saying, “I don’t know that there is data to back up what you’re saying, Jeff. It’s proven that people are coming to Colorado in droves. I’m not necessarily saying that I advocate it [the use of marijuana]. I just ask that we see what the people think about it.” Woods continued, “I know for a fact that a lot of towns in Colorado who opted out of the marijuana stores originally, including Gunnison, have come back and voted again and they did legalize it, and are realizing huge amounts of sales tax revenues.”
Mayor Vierheller said, “To follow up on that, marijuana sales tax in Gunnison is more than our whole general fund. I’m about choice for people. I think it should be up to the voters. It only takes 19 signatures to get it on the ballot for a special election – what does an election cost? About $3000? It could cost us that. I wouldn’t mind seeing it on the ballot and let it go to the people.”
Trustee Priest stated that she was personally more prone to focus on what the trustees are doing as a board. “I feel like we need to talk about this further in another workshop and talk as well about whether we should reduce the board to 4 trustees rather than 6.” With regards to the marijuana issue, Priest stated that she “would rather not” put it on the ballot and allow the citizens to take the initiative.
Town Clerk Jamie Turrentine stated that such an initiative would need to be presented to the board and that should the Board of Trustees decide not to place the issue on the ballot, the citizens will need to visit the state of Colorado Municipal League website for further instructions on how to proceed.