Nine weeks ahead of Centennial's home-rule election, opponents have begun to organize. Bold red "NOCC" flyers circulated at the Arapahoe Republican breakfast on April 9, and a rudimentary No on Centennial Charter website is up at www.nocc2008.com. Ron Phelps, a city council candidate last year, is one of the organizers. He was quoted in the Centennial Citizen last week as warning: "The more government grows, the more government seems to want to impose itself on all of us. A home-rule city would have the authority to reach into all our lives. That's not my paradigm of government."
To the contrary, said incumbent councilman Ron Weidmann in the same story: "The charter actually has more limits than leaving things as is." Well, let's see how the facts shake out in coming weeks. Which view is right? That's why they have election.
Interesting, though, Weidmann also asserted this: "It is important to understand those that opposed the city originally are those opposing the charter - no matter what it says."
That's not true in my own case. As a new state senator in January 1999, the first legislation I helped pass was a bill facilitating Centennial's petition and referendum for incorporation as a new city. I supported that successful vote the following September, and campaigned accordingly in my own reelection that November.
So shooting the messenger, which the councilman is clumsily attempting to do, won't work with this early pro-city guy. And I doubt it will work with many of those who are now expressing concerns similar to mine -- concerns not about having a city at all, but about whether the city's political maturity and leadership cadre are as yet ready for the additional powers that Phelps pointed to.
Slurs upon the motives of charter opponents, ala Weidmann, or inside power plays to marginalize the clerk and treasurer prior to declaring them unnecessary, as Linda Gawlik describes in the foregoing post, would seem to suggest they are not ready.
But the campaign leading up to election day, June 10, is just beginning. Let's hope the Yes or No debate can be conducted on the merits, not with such juvenile tactics as these.