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Commissioner addresses mistrust at townhall meetings

By: MATT STEINER
January 15, 2011
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photo - El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn speaks during a townhall meeting Saturday at Colorado Springs Fire Station 19.   Photo by CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE
El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn speaks during a townhall meeting Saturday at Colorado Springs Fire Station 19. Photo by CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE 

Newly sworn in El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn got an earful during three townhall style meetings Saturday as his new constituents complained about last year’s term limits measure.

Glenn also heard a lot about mistrust and how county leaders have lost credibility from residents in Black Forest, Monument and Colorado Springs.

On term limits, voters complained that the wording of the ballot question last November was misleading, giving county commissioners more time in office when the voters actually thought they were getting rid of the elected officials sooner.

“They didn’t feel they were extending term limits,” Glenn said before the meeting at the Springs fire station began. “They felt they were limiting them.”

Glenn said the issue piled more mistrust on elected officials — “All the good things get thrown out if they feel there’s something funny going on.” He wants a clearer term limits question to go to voters this fall.

Under the new term limits, commissioners Dennis Hisey and Sallie Clark would be able to run for a third term in 2012.

Once the last meeting of the day got rolling, it didn’t take long for people to echo that sentiment. One man bellowed about his feelings for the county commissioners saying “I don’t believe they’re honest. There’s a big stain with what happened last year.”

Glenn said he has been encouraging the other four commissioners to hold similar “Listening Tours” to help develop a two-way line of communication.

Glenn, who joined the county panel Tuesday, wants to start a Citizens Advisory Board to help commissioners avoid similar missteps. He solicited volunteers to keep an eye on things in their neighborhoods and alert him and the commissioners to any concerns that might arise.

Glenn said Commissioners are also setting up a Facebook.com page to reach out to voters.

If Glenn’s last meeting is any sign, commissioners do need to reach a broader audience.

Just seven people, not counting a few city office-seekers, were at the meeting at the Springs fire station while 12 attended in Black Forest and 15 in Monument.

“I’m happy with that given that it’s a football playoff day,” Glenn said.

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