There are three elements of Grand County’s plan for government that a new form of government can’t contain – term limits, recall elections, and non-partisan elections. Mr. McElhaney indicated that these elements “…are huge legal concerns…” and thus, we need to go through the process to change our form of government to address them. This is flat out not true.
The above three elements can be amended by the council at any time without changing the form of government. I believe these elements have reasonable legal standing. But, even if a judge found these elements to be illegitimate, there is little to no financial risk. The judge would just order that we do things differently.
Grand County’s form of government is clearly “grandfathered,” as state code only places limitations on the above three elements for plans adopted after May 2000. Also, the statute our government was founded under was left on the books for the express reason of maintaining our legal status. (State Code 17-52-402, 17-35b)
Term limits are not governed federally, but, rather by state. Utah’s Constitution doesn’t mention term limits, and so they are a grey area unless expressly defined by statute. State statute and case law do deny term limits for some offices, but council seats are not mentioned.
Regarding recall elections, the state constitution says that an elected official can only be removed from office by “law.” Some interpret this to mean only state law, and not local (county) law. This point has never been tested in the courts to my knowledge. (Utah Constitution, art. VI, sec. 21)
Non-partisan elections are only exempted from plans for government adopted after May 2000. (17-52-402)
Mr. McElhaney obviously doesn’t understand county government, as a “county administrator” is not possible under any form of government. The current limitations of executive authority will remain the same regardless of a change in government. Our current government gives the ability to confer all or part of that executive responsibility to the administrator. Hence, the flexibility I’ve been referring to.
But all this technical mumbo-jumbo is really beside the point. This is clearly a partisan attempt to rewrite the county’s form of government to the benefit of the Republican Party. You either support that notion or you don’t.
I support a government that gives a fair hand to all. I’m voting “No.”