Election

Denver’s 2020 ballot measures: The one about the clerk’s appointments and deleting a top position from the charter

2I would give the clerk and recorder more appointees and make the director of elections an optional position for the city to have.

Super Tuesday at the Hiawatha Davis recreation center in Northeast Park Hill, March 3, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Super Tuesday at the Hiawatha Davis recreation center in Northeast Park Hill, March 3, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

Initiative 2I has to do with Denver’s Office of the Clerk and Recorder. The clerk and recorder is an elected post that, among other things, oversees city elections, public records, and acts as a liaison between the city government and the state government.

When voters elected Paul López clerk and recorder last year, he inherited an office with several high-level employees to lead its many functions. Some of those leaders are political appointees, meaning López or previous clerks assigned them the job. Others are civil servants who go through the regular hiring process.

López wants to restructure the office to make all top-level posts appointed and put his deputies on a level playing field, but the city charter only allows him three total appointments. Initiative 2I would give López and future clerks five total appointments, which would put the office on par with other independent offices, like the auditor.

Initiative 2I would also remove the director of elections from the charter. The position, enshrined in the city’s constitution in 2007 when the clerk became an elected post, helped vault Denver to a leader in mail-in voting.

What the ballot measure says: Shall the Charter of the City and County of Denver be amended to clarify that the Clerk and Recorder may appoint four at-will employees in addition to the Deputy, all of whom shall be exempt from the career service personnel system?

What it means: A yes vote means you support the clerk and recorder getting five political appointments instead of three. A yes vote also means you support removing the director of elections position from the city charter, though that piece is not part of the ballot question.

Who supports it: López and some city council members who referred the measure to voters. López believes the change will improve his office’s workflow, effectiveness and nimbleness when faced with surprises like a pandemic. He also reasons that having more appointees running things makes the office more accountable to voters because if they don’t like his choices, they can vote him out. He plans to keep the director of elections position intact even though the charter would no longer require it.

Who’s against it: 2I has no organized opposition. Denver’s former director of elections, Amber McReynolds, came out against the ballot measure. She disagrees with the idea of making the director of elections an optional thing. She says it downgrades the importance of the position, which has helped elections run smoothly since a debacle in 2006. Official comments filed with Denver Elections against the ballot measure follow similar reasoning.

Mayor Micahel Hancock is neutral on 2I.

Check out our comprehensive voting guide here. Happy voting!

Want some more? Explore other Election stories.

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