Election 2017

Ballot initiative deemed sufficient by city clerk **Updated**

Issue moves to council to approve or place on the ballot


**Update: On Sept. 26 the city confirmed that the initiative would no longer make the November ballot, due to the legal delays**

Lakewood's ballot initiative to limit residential growth cleared its legal challenge Monday, and is again on track to appear on this November's ballot.

City Clerk, Margy Greer ruled the initiative to put a 1 percent annual limit on residential growth and return decisions on large multifamily projects to city council received sufficient signatures in the proper way.

Lakewood City Council may now either approve the measure, or place it on the ballot.

"The 'affidavit' form, approved for use by the Clerk for Proponents' circulator page, strictly complied with all criteria and requirements of the Lakewood Ordinance," Greer's decision states. "As such, the petition form used was sufficient as a matter of law."

The Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships submitted more than 7,500 signatures from community members on July 28, and Greer verified 6,192 signatures were sufficient to move it to the ballot at the time.

"We appreciate that the city clerk recognized the insufficiency of the protest and the right of the people to have their say," said Cathy Kentner, a board member of Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships, who was co-petitioner with Anita Springsteen and Heather Wenger. "We look forward to a challenging campaign after it's placed on the ballot."

Steve Dorman, vice chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party, filed the challenge against the initiative, because he said people who signed the petition weren't made fully aware of the contents of the measure.

Over two days of hearings Dennis Polk, counselor for Dorman, argued those who collected the signatures did not follow the city's election rules. The argument rested on the fact that the bulk of the circulators' affidavits were not signed and submitted under oath when they were turned in to a notary, rendering those petitions and signatures not valid.

Countering that argument, former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and counsel for Kentner, argued that the act of signing was an affirmation of the validity of signatures, and that not making customers swear an official oath is common practice for notaries.

In her decision, Greer said the process circulators used complied with Lakewood's Ordinance. And since Lakewood is a home rule city, it's acceptable if Lakewood's requirements differ from the state's.

Dorman also said people who signed the petition weren't made fully aware of the contents of the measure, since circulators only had a two sentence summary of the 14 page initiative.

In her decision, Greer stated that Dorman did not "pursue remedies to challenge the summary," earlier in the initiative process, and "thus has lost his opportunity to challenge the summary."

With November just a month and a half away, Kentner said she is ready for a hard fight.

"The opposition is already filing the coffers of pro-development candidates and I'm sure they will mount a high dollar, high pressure campaign to sell their unlimited growth stance," she said. "And to quash the right of the community to have its say."

"I am taking this fight to district court," Dorman said in response to Greer's decision. "The Boulder-style anti-growth ordinance is more than just horrible policy that would drive up the cost of housing and property taxes for seniors and working people in Lakewood. It is also blatantly illegal. Anti-growth activists are no more allowed to adopt de facto charter amendments through a simple ordinance than the US Congress can amend the US Constitution through a spending earmark. It will be defeated, at the ballot box, or in the court room first."

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