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Survey: Most Denver voters support shorter term limits for mayor, city council

About 70% of voters in Denver would vote in favor of shortening the term limit for the city’s mayor and city council, according to a recent survey.
Posted: 4:36 PM, May 22, 2024
Updated: 2024-05-22 18:36:40-04
Mayor Mike Johnston April 10, 2024.jpg

DENVER — About 70% of voters in Denver would vote in favor of shortening the term limit for the city’s mayor and city council, according to a recent survey.

The survey polled about 1,600 Denver voters between May 7 and May 14, 2024, to gauge interest in a possible ballot measure that would reduce the number of terms the city’s top elected leaders could serve from three four-year terms to two.

The survey, conducted by market research firm Magellan Strategies, showed 71% of respondents were in favor of the term limit for Denver’s mayor, including more than half responding with “definitely yes.” Eighty-eight percent of Republicans surveyed were in favor, along with 78% of unaffiliated voters and 62% of Democrats.

A total of 22% of those surveyed said they would reject the term limit measure. Another 7% were undecided.


Sixty-nine percent of surveyed voters supported limiting the number of terms for members of the city council. That number was 60% for the city’s auditor and clerk and recorder positions.


Denver city council members Amanda Sawyer and Amanda Sandoval brought the term-limits conversation to the forefront last summer. They presented results of an online survey in August that showed 70% of respondents supported shorter term limits.

“I think eight years is probably long enough. If it's good enough for the president of the United States and it's good enough for our governor and our legislature, it's probably good enough for us,” Sawyer told Denver7 last year.

In 1994, Colorado voters approved an amendment to the state constitution which limited local elected officials to two terms in office — but the amendment also gave local voters the power to change this in their community as they deemed it necessary.

In 2000, Denver voters did just that, approving a measure to allow the city’s elected leaders to serve for three terms, or 12 years.

Previous Denver mayor Michael Hancock served three terms from 2011-2023. John Hickenlooper served eight years before him, from 2003 to 2011. Wellington Webb served three terms from 1991 to 2003.

Denver City Council Members July 2023

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Supporters generally believe shorter term limits are a way to hold elected officials more accountable and ensure they don’t become too powerful in one position. Opponents say the experience an elected leader builds up over time, including becoming an expert on important policy issues, benefits their constituents.

Other data in the May 2024 survey

The survey also asked those 1,600 voters about the current state of Denver’s leadership. Half of the respondents said they approve of the job Mayor Mike Johnston was doing, and 49% said they approve of the job the city council was doing.


Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez and City Auditor Timothy O’Brien each had more approval than disapproval, but a majority of respondents for each said they had no opinion.

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they believed Denver was “on the wrong track,” with 42% saying Denver was headed in the right direction and 3% having no opinion.