20 March 2006

Democracy Cancelled For Lack Of Interest

Municipal governments in Colorado are having a hard time finding people willing to run for public offices:

In 2004, 35 municipalities - 18 percent of all cities and towns with April elections - canceled their votes. In 2002, 23 percent of the municipal elections were canceled. . . . "At least 14 municipalities have canceled their April elections," Sam Mamet, executive director of the Colorado Municipal League, said Friday. . . . Term limits also have dried up candidate pools. To boost the numbers, the Colorado Constitution was amended in 1994 to allow voters to waive term limits. Since then, 173 towns and cities have voted on the question, with 101 dumping term limits.

The problem, primarily, is that small municipalities have few people. Morrison, which was featured in the Denver Post story quoted above, has just 225 registered voters and has also failed to end term limits.

We ask a lot of rural areas in terms of political participation. There are 2638 local governments of 74 different kinds in Colorado. This includes 271 municipalities. About 124 of them have fewer than 1000 residents, and about 203 of them have fewer than 5,000 people. The West Washington Park Neighborhood Association in Denver has more people than all but 33 Colorado municipalities. Colorado also has three counties with fewer than 1,000 people in it, and 15 with fewer than 5,000 residents.

It is little wonder then, that finding candidates to run for these offices is often difficult, and that local governments, not infrequently make decisions that aren't always the most wise.

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