Didn’t we fight about taxation without representation?

Brief by Central Staff

Water Politics – June 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

Didn’t we fight a war once about Taxation Without Representation?

One of our favorite Colorado troublemakers (and an occasional contributor) is Jeanne Englert of Lafayette. For years, she has been agitating for elections for the directors of water conservancy districts.

In general, these directors are appointed by district judges, even though they can levy taxes and operate public-works projects. “It’s taxation without representation,” Jeanne says, “directly opposed to everything this country is supposed to stand for.”

Her lobbying has had some effect. The state legislature did change the law so that if 10% of the registered voters in any division of a water conservancy district signed a petition, then that seat would be filled by election, rather than appointment.

It’s happening in the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District, where two directors’ terms were expiring this year. In Division 5, only one candidate, Steve Glazer of Crested Butte, filed for the seat, so he was declared the winner and will take office at the June 28 board meeting.

Division 3 has three candidates, so there will be an election on June 22 to determine who will serve on the district board.

Imagine that — getting to vote for people who can levy taxes on you and who control a vital resource. It’s hard to see how any American could oppose that, but Jeanne recalls Fred Anderson of Loveland, once a state senator and then a lobbyist for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

“If we held elections for water district boards, then the wrong people might get in,” he said. Well, it’s a risk we run with the legislature, and we’ve survived that.