As part of Centennial’s continuing efforts to implement its new home-rule charter, the city council is considering its options as it establishes …
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As part of Centennial’s continuing efforts to implement its new
home-rule charter, the city council is considering its options as
it establishes several new committees mandated by the governing
The charter, a sort of municipal constitution, was drafted last
year by the elected 21-member Centennial Charter Commission and
approved by voters in June by a greater than 2-to-1 margin. The
charter allows the city greater opportunities for self-governance
under the Colorado Constitution and establishes some new
At the Jan. 21 city council meeting, city leaders debated the
merits of excluding elected political leaders from the required
election commission, which will assist in overseeing city
elections, though the charter does not specifically describe the
According to a proposed ordinance under consideration by the
council, the commission would assist in establishing policy for
city elections that are not held in conjunction with Arapahoe
County and would recommend any possible changes in city
districting, among other functions.
The city council would appoint residents to serve on the
commission. Elected city officials, relatives of candidates and
city employees would not be permitted to serve on the body.
The draft ordinance prepared by the city attorney’s office would
also exclude registered agents of candidate committees, issue
committees and political organizations.
In what turned out to be a controversial move, some political
party activists, such as precinct committee members, county
assembly delegates and vacancy committee members, also would be
prohibited from serving on the election commission.
“The goal here really was to try to, as much as possible, cloak
this with some transparency and some neutrality,” assistant city
attorney Maureen Juran explained to the city council. “[We wanted
to] take these people who are really vested in a pending political
issue and ask them not to be serving on this commission during that
Because city elections are nonpartisan, District 1 Councilmember
Rick Dindinger complained that such a provision would unnecessarily
exclude a large number of qualified city residents.
“Whether or not someone is affiliated with a particular party,
even if they’re an elected precinct committee person or delegate,
does not mean they’re going to let that influence how they would
judge a municipal nonpartisan election,” he said.
District 3 Councilmember Rebecca McClellan suggested the city
should consider designing its election commission the same way
Arapahoe County recruits a mix of election judges from both major
parties to oversee voting.
McClellan’s fellow District 3 representative Patrick Anderson
countered that it would be better for the council to judge each
politically involved commission applicant on a case-by-case
“I think we can use our judgement to determine whether somebody
is too heavily involved or maybe too partisan,” Anderson said,
suggesting McClellan’s idea rang of a quota system.
According to the draft ordinance, the five-member election
commission would include the city clerk and four registered voters
who live in Centennial. Members would serve three-year terms.
Per the charter’s eventual elimination of the elected city
clerk, an appointed city clerk would assume a post on the
commission starting in January 2010.
The charter also eliminates the elected treasurer, beginning
next year — a controversial change that prompted some discussion of
the make-up of the audit committee, which, according to the
charter, will provide oversight of city finances.
“I believe that between now and the termination of that position
that the [elected] treasurer should be on that committee,” District
4 Councilmember Todd Miller said.
Because of the charter’s wording, if appointed to serve on the
audit committee, outgoing treasurer Susan Bockenfeld would
technically be one of two designated citizen representatives on the
The charter mandates that the audit committee comprises the
mayor, a councilmember appointed by the city council, the city
manager, the finance director, a staff member appointed by the
finance director, the city attorney and two city residents with
The other new city committees to be instigated by the council
per the charter are a city investment committee and a budget
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