Guest Column

Mayor should be chosen by all Castle Rock voters

Guest column by George Teal
Posted 5/10/16

It’s time to start having a real conversation about how we elect our mayor.

And I get it: There are serious and entrenched interests in this town who believe it’s just fine for our chief legislator to be elected with just four votes (his and …

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Guest Column

Mayor should be chosen by all Castle Rock voters

Posted

It’s time to start having a real conversation about how we elect our mayor.

And I get it: There are serious and entrenched interests in this town who believe it’s just fine for our chief legislator to be elected with just four votes (his and three of his fellow town council colleagues.) But as we’ve seen in the last few months, people in our town — and our nation, for that matter — expect, and deserve, to have a direct voice in the process.

We shouldn’t disenfranchise our residents.

And I hear all the arguments of why the status quo is just fine ... about how our mayor “just” runs the town council meetings (that’s not true, by the way) and about how a “strong mayor” system is “bad.”

One argument goes something like: if a mayor and a town councilmember are from the same district, then that district gets two votes. Really? How does that work when a state representative and state senator are from the same town? Does that town get two votes in the Legislature? Or when a congressman and U.S. senator both hail from the same district?

In fact our republic respects when a district — or neighborhood, for that matter — joins together to elect representation in any and all forms. It happens all the time and across the spectrum ... if the Meadows is united enough to capture the seat of mayor while also having a town council seat, then maybe the Meadows deserves to have a mayor and town councilmember speaking on its behalf at the town level.

Maybe we preserve the model we have now, where a mayor still needs to be a member of the town council, but he’s elected by ALL the voters of Castle Rock, not just the seven on the council itself.

Because we need to acknowledge the fact that our residents have an expectation of direct representation.

We learned it in our third-grade social studies class ... that the mayor is the most direct and local advocate for a town; he represents everyone — from every neighborhood — and serves the people, with the support of a council, while being accountable to all and elected town-wide.

But that’s not what happens here in Castle Rock.

And this isn’t a discussion about individual personalities or the sins of previous council administrations. It’s not about town council members “knowing who best represents them” in the mayor’s seat. It’s about how we expect to reasonably grow our town to 100,000 residents while still holding our local, elected officials — each and every one of them — accountable.

It’s about letting residents have a voice in deciding who should be mayor.

When we read the headlines that our mayor is being recalled, please understand: The only ones who can legally recall our mayor are the members of town council themselves. If you want to help Paul fight the recall and keep his seat (and I personally hope you do), please know that if you don’t live in District 1, you can’t vote for him.

And if you feel like he’s done some sort of disservice to our town — or maybe doesn’t represent your priorities — please remember that he wasn’t elected to represent your priorities. Not unless you live in his district.

I look forward to a time when our residents can vote for mayor. We all deserve the opportunity to have a say in who leads our town council and who executes the will of Castle Rock voters. But we’re just not there yet.

George Teal represents District 6 on the Castle Rock Town Council.

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