Boulder County, it’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Brendan, and by the time you’re reading this, I’ll have been editor-in-chief of Boulder Weekly for a mere six weeks, which is also how long I’ve had more than a passing familiarity with the region you call home.
Fresh eyes are an advantage when coming into a role like this in your community. I didn’t have preconceived notions about the issues facing the municipalities here, or a group of friends who’d influenced my opinions about our local politics. I’ve been learning and analyzing as I meet politicians and activists who span the unique political spectrum that’s evolved here.
Those same fresh eyes have been applied to understanding the intricacies and nuances of the political issues and their historical context here, to help you navigate your ballot on November 2, when municipal-, county-, and state-level decisions will be made by you, the voters.
Thankfully, I’m not alone in this endeavor, wherein Boulder Weekly’s editorial staff spoke with every candidate for every race in Boulder County and researched every question that will appear on the various ballots.
BW Managing Editor Caitlin Rockett has been with the paper nearly eight years; she was a Boulder resident for four years but was priced out and retreated to slightly more affordable digs in Denver.
My wife and I both commute to Boulder from a Denver suburb for work, and Caitlin’s a commuter too. We’re part of a bloc of this community that doesn’t get a vote on Boulder issues, yet is a critical factor in nearly all of the city of Boulder’s issues—we’re part of the 60,000-member workforce that comes in like a tide, spewing our carbon emissions and clogging up traffic and paying sales tax on what we buy while we’re here.
BW News Editor Will Brendza will mark up a City of Boulder ballot on November 2. Will has been a Boulder resident for a decade, since he came here to attend CU Boulder and decided to make this place home. Few if any of his classmates did the same, due to the cost of living and the fact this place doesn’t offer much to a single person in their mid-20s just trying to launch their career.
All three of us identify with values that are labeled “progressive”—equal opportunities, equitable social justice, offering a hand up to our neighbors in need . . . That’s who we are, and our opinions in this year’s Vote Guide reflect our values, morals, and ethics.
I’ve always found newspaper endorsements annoying. Most are presented as the paper’s opinion: a monolithic corporation as faceless and nameless marionnettiste offering its direction for the community where you live, work, and play. We’re not one of those newspapers. Boulder Weekly continues to be the only independent and locally-owned newspaper in Boulder County.
What we offer you in this Vote Guide blends our wealth of experience covering local governance with our impressions gleaned after one-on-one conversations with the candidates, as well as ballot questions’ proponents and opponents. We took a deeper look than you may have the time or resources to pull off.
Though our choices for these races are highlighted throughout this issue, we offer our preferences as informed suggestions, and a starting point for an ongoing dialogue. For what it’s worth, our decisions on candidates were unanimous, as were our calls on ballot questions. To learn more about these candidates and issues, we’ve provided links to candidates’ websites in the online version of this story at boulderweekly.com.
Some of you will disagree with our choices; that’s a given. But we’d like to make this the opening of a dialogue with our readers. There are three more issues of BW before the election on Tuesday, November 2, and we encourage you to write in and tell us where we hit the mark or where you think we’re completely off in our analysis of these ballot questions. We’ll dedicate extra space in that interim to the most incisive and acute feedback we receive, whether we agree with the conclusions or not.
We look forward to your feedback and your reactions to our takes here. Send your evaluations to us at email@example.com.
—Brendan Joel Kelley
CITY OF BOULDER
BOULDER CITY COUNCIL
Boulder as a concept, as the best place to live in America, as a liberal lodestar, is untenable. That facade conceals a community divided between those trying to protect a 50-year-old vision of this city as an environmental wonderland and those who see the necessity of change to correct the damage wrought in pursuit of that same vision.
There are two competing visions of Boulder, that’s readily apparent. One is of a Boulder now decades in the past, when a question like “Do the citizens really think that Boulder should try to accommodate everyone that wants to move here?” might not have reeked so much of classism against the tens of thousands of people who come here to wait our tables, to tune up our $5,000 bicycles, to teach our children, or to write in our newspapers.
In the present day, though, the damage is done: Boulder is already a white, wealthy, exclusionary enclave, not a welcoming progressive paradise.
The competing, forward-looking vision of Boulder strikes us as considerate of what the City of Boulder could be if it were truly committed to fulfilling its potential. Yes, that means change, and one side of the political divide here in Boulder seems wary if not downright scared of changing what was created 50-plus years ago.
Look, we appreciate the open space and the Blue Line and the height limit and how radical those ideas were for their time. But today Boulder faces challenges that demand even more revolutionary ideas. Expanding housing density without compromising environmental and lifestyle ideals, embracing and encouraging diversity in the community, providing effective, compassionate services to the less fortunate among us—these are all issues we believe are solvable with fresh ideas and an awareness that change is inescapable (our friends at Naropa would remind us that impermanence is the cornerstone of the Buddha’s teachings).
We believe it will take innovation and idealism to reverse course—coupled with pragmatism and experience, yes, but not in equal amounts.
For those reasons, we’re supporting Matt Benjamin, Lauren Folkerts, Nicole Speer, Dan Williams, and Mark Wallach for city council—the four candidates running as a progressive slate along with the single incumbent on the ballot, who’s proven his ability to thoughtfully dissect issues and change his mind when warranted.
Matt Benjamin, a freelance astronomer, ran for city council in 2017, but felt his candidacy pulled support from other candidates with similar aims and values. In 2019, instead of running again, Benjamin headed The Coalition, an assemblage of further-left political groups challenging the long-in-power slow-growth majority on the council, and chalked up three wins by Coalition-supported candidates. In 2020, Benjamin chaired the successful campaign to directly elect Boulder’s mayor using a type of ranked-choice voting.
This year The Coalition has endorsed Benjamin’s run for council, and we concur that Matt’s time has come. He says his work in the community supporting candidates and ballot measures and serving on city working groups showed him a potential that Boulder’s failing to pursue. “We’re just not on the trajectory to meet those aspirational goals,” he says.
Benjamin is an advocate for rethinking zoning to address not just affordable housing in Boulder but middle-income housing for young working families. He’d like to see Boulder invest in a program like Denver’s Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) to use mental health professionals to respond to calls instead of police, when appropriate. And in building the Boulder of the future, he envisions eliminating parking requirements and instead providing access to non-driving transportation options. And right off the bat, Benjamin says he’d work to pass increased gun control measures in Boulder.
“I want to leave this community better off than I found it, so that my kids and their generation have the building blocks in this community to thrive and meet their generation’s challenges,” he says.
As a career-long architect, Lauren Folkerts sees the world in terms of how places and spaces shape behavior. It’s a perspective that she believes would make her a useful city councilmember, because it also lends her insight into building codes, zoning, carbon footprints, and community access.
Folkerts also has a firm grasp not only on the issues facing Boulder, but on many of the possible solutions to address them. When asked about affordable housing, she starts listing stats: how nearly 60 percent of Boulder workers commute here, and how that affects our environmental footprint and sense of community within the city. She talks about reformatting Boulder’s use-tables, and rezoning specific areas of the city to allow for more affordable housing options. When asked about homelessness, she says flat out she doesn’t think the city offers enough services for its homeless population. She talks about re-establishing Boulder’s day center to give those experiencing homelessness a place to stay and charge their devices and get some food, but also to create a central location where service providers can locate and connect with those they’re trying to provide services to.
Folkerts is sharp, well-informed, and has a clear vision for what she believes Boulder needs. She’s unwavering in her own beliefs, but unafraid to compromise and find middle ground when it comes to working through some of Boulder’s more contentiously argued issues. She’s flexible and firm all at once, progress-minded but also realistic. And while she has big ideas for Boulder’s future, she’s also familiar with the often tedious nitty-gritty details of city governance and its processes.
There are people who self-identify as “active community members” and then there are people like Dr. Nicole Speer, who embodies the description. When Speer isn’t running the Intermountain Neuroimaging Consortium at CU’s Institute of Cognitive Science, where she manages a team of 12, you can find her volunteering at weekly homeless outreach programs or working with the NAACP or promoting equity and inclusion efforts at CU. In fact, on the topic of equity and inclusion, she is one of the only Boulder city council candidate who translated her campaign into Spanish, a testament to her dedication to include minority and underrepresented populations in Boulder.
Speer’s got big ideas for addressing Boulder’s biggest issues. When it comes to housing she believes that every available option should be in play, from expanded occupancy limits to tiny homes and ADUs to buying up land specifically for affordable housing (much like the city did with open space). When it comes to homelessness, she’s against the camping ban and for safe camping and safe parking policies. She’s also wary of increasing Boulder’s police budget. While she clarifies that doesn’t mean she won’t support the police, she does want to shift spending away from that direction.
When it comes to the hot-button topic of CU South’s annexation by the City of Boulder, Speer says she is all for it. As a resident of South Boulder, she sees the problem as a matter of “the perfect getting in the way of the good.” The neighborhoods her friends live in, in South Boulder, need flood mitigation and they need it sooner rather than later, she says, adding, “There are going to be a lot of hard changes we’re going to have to make in order to deal with the climate emergency.”
We can act tomorrow, she says, but tomorrow might be too late.
Speer comes off as an idealist and a big-picture thinker—that’s because she is. She’s aware that her biggest priorities and the issues that are most important to her are issues that Boulder has been wrestling with for years, even decades: equity, housing, homelessness . . . But to Speer, that’s all the more reason to start addressing them now, and we at Boulder Weekly concur.
We believe in the importance of balancing idealism with realpolitik, and that’s the reason incumbent councilman Mark Wallach is once again receiving Boulder Weekly’s support.
Wallach is wrapping up his first term on the council, and while he’s proud of the work that he was able to accomplish, he says that he didn’t get to really address the issues he ran on. Between COVID-19, college riots, and a mass shooting here in Boulder, Wallach’s first term was largely spent handling different local emergencies. That’s why he says he’s running for a second term, despite repeatedly likening his position to the myth of Sysiphus pushing a boulder up a hill.
Wallach is pro-affordable housing, but against the Bedrooms are for People (BAFP) on the ballot. He believes BAFP will only serve to force rent prices up, push single families out of Boulder, and make landlords wealthier than they are now. He says that’s why he’s been working to advance the municipal airport planning reserve housing project for his entire first term, and will continue to do so in a second, if elected. He calls the airport a local “amenity for rich white hobbyists” and he thinks it would much better serve the community if it was developed as permanent affordable housing instead.
Wallach supports the camping ban, and is an advocate for more enforcement of it and more police funding. He recently voted to increase the Boulder Police Department budget by $1.5 million and says that the city isn’t obligated to provide any additional services beyond what it’s currently offering to address homelessness.
Despite those positions, which are contrary to our own, we’re supporting Wallach again for one pivotal reason: He can change his mind. It’s something he demonstrated with his vote on the annexation of CU South. Wallach was against the annexation agreement for a very long time, but after extensive research, hours of testimony, and many meetings on the topic, Wallach wrote an op-ed explaining why he was going to break with his previous position and vote in favor of the annexation agreement when the council held its emergency vote in September (“Annexed by emergency vote,” Boulder Weekly 9/23/21).
It wasn’t the outcome of his vote that sold us on Wallach so much as the process that got him there. He remained open to all of the information, digested it, and then made his own choice based on the facts in front of him. On top of that, his realism, logic-oriented mindset, and disdain for looking through rose-colored glasses make him a candidate we’d like to see remain on the council.
Dan Williams, a litigator, says he didn’t intend to jump into politics even a year ago. But when he considered what was at stake in this election, his take was grim. “It seems to me the city has really gotten off track. Our wealth disparity’s growing; our population numbers stagnated, they’re actually starting to decline; we’re locking out future generations,” he says. “We’re failing on our racial equity and social justice goals—I mean, Boulder talks about itself as a liberal Mecca, but when you talk to people in POC communities here, that’s not what they’re feeling. I thought, ultimately, I could do a good job pushing our city in a more progressive direction.”
Williams ticks off a list of the human assets Boulder has been losing, “the artists, the musicians, the people who want to launch new companies, the creative types, the people who want to work as massage therapists or work in our restaurants—they’re being locked out now.”
To that end, Williams supports expanding multifamily housing in Boulder in spots like Diagonal Plaza, and also supported the Bedrooms are for People ballot measure which would expand occupancy limits to match the number of bedrooms in the dwelling plus one.
Williams’ wife is a public health nurse who’s provided services for unhoused people, and he approaches that issue with compassion. “If we want to have people who aren’t living by the creek and aren’t defecating by the creek and who aren’t spending their days drinking by the creek or in our underpasses, the solution is to give people safe places to be,” he says. His proposed solutions include a day shelter and designated camping areas; he opposes the city’s camping ban.
“Instead of trying to hold on to a past image of Boulder, we have to think about what its future is going to look like,” Williams says. We wholeheartedly agree.
Boulder Weekly mildly supports a Yes vote on both of these measures. First, some background:
The measure asks if Boulderites want to extend a current 0.3 percent sales tax for the next 15 years, with the majority of the money—about 90 percent—funding infrastructure projects, and the remainder going to community nonprofit organizations.
Issue 2J asks voters if it’s okay for the city to borrow $110 million to finance these projects, with a repayment figure of $158 million to be repaid from the sales tax.
The original Culture and Safety tax, passed in 2014, provided 20 percent to local nonprofits, and was only applied for three years before voters were asked if they wanted to extend it again in 2017, which they did. Now, another three years later, voters are being asked if they’d like to keep the tax for a full 15 years, but with half the amount of money—just 10 percent—going to nonprofit organizations.
While there is no formal opposition to (or support for) this measure, a number of organizations in the arts and culture community have expressed frustration with the cut in nonprofit funding. While Boulder is often touted as an “art town,” arts organizations have long argued that the city’s funding is paltry compared to cities of a similar size. Additionally, the 10 percent allocated in the tax is for all local nonprofits, not just arts organizations, meaning arts groups will be pitted against, say, human services groups. And 15 years is a five-fold increase over previous extensions of the tax.
“It’s trying to loop in too many competing interests that are apples and oranges . . . it gives people a sense that the arts are being supported to a degree which they are not,” says Amanda Berg-Wilson, artistic director of The Catamounts theater company in Boulder. “The issue is we invest in buildings and not in artists or producers. We have beautiful buildings that are expensive to produce in, and we live in a town in which it’s expensive to live.”
On the flip side, this does not increase taxes from their current level, and, frankly, it’s hard to get taxpayers excited about funding infrastructure projects. The city certainly needs the money, with city council stating in 2019 that Boulder had more than $300 million in unfunded infrastructure projects. It’s safe to say that this tax won’t actually cover all of the city’s infrastructure projects, but it will get the process started for some major improvements, which include $17 million for transportation (maintenance and improvement of roads and multi-use paths; replacing the Central Avenue bridge; and replacing traffic signal poles); $7 million to improve the Boulder Creek Path corridor; $8 million for the “Civic Area,” the land between the main branch of the Boulder library and the Dushanbe teahouse; $11 million for construction of Fire Station No. 3 construction; $35 million to relocate or rebuild Fire Station No. 2 or Fire Station No. 4; $1.4 million to add Advanced Life Support capabilities to Boulder Fire Rescue; $13.5 million renovate East Boulder Rec Center; $5 million to acquire streetlight system from Xcel and convert to LED lights; and $4 million to refresh Pearl Street Mall.
These two ballot measures—one that would codify rules for city council subcommittees that examine particular issues, and one that would adjust city council members’ pay schedule to match that of other city employees—are administrative changes brought forth by the council to smooth wrinkles.
The Council Committees measure would simply write into law the process the council already follows for subcommittees: subcommittees would be limited to two members in most cases, and never have a majority of the council on them; council members who aren’t on the subcommittee can attend meetings but not participate; two council members required for a recruitment committee when the city is hiring a city manager, city attorney, or municipal judge.
The Council Payment Schedule measure would alter council members’ pay schedule from a per-meeting basis of $239.40 (fully dependent on the member’s attendance) to the same schedule as other city employees (but not dependent on the member’s attendance). The pay wouldn’t increase or decrease, and it would smooth operations for the city’s administrative staff.
Both of these changes make sense, and we encourage a Yes vote on Ballot Questions 2K and 2M.
Referendums are required to overturn decisions made by the city council or state government. Currently, Section 46 of Boulder’s City Charter requires ten percent “of the number of registered voters” sign a referendum in order to validate the petition. Ballot Question 2L would modify that slightly, in order to match the state requirements for referendum petitions. If approved, it would change the requirement to ten percent of the “average number of people who voted in the last two city council candidate elections.” Because this is only meant to align municipal law with state law, and clarifies language, Boulder Weekly supports a Yes vote on this measure.
BALLOT QUESTION 300: BEDROOMS ARE FOR PEOPLE
Boulder currently limits home occupancy to three or four unrelated individuals per home, no matter the number of bedrooms in the dwelling. This ballot measure would alter the law to make the occupancy limit equal to the number of bedrooms plus one individual (five unrelated people in a four-bedroom house, for example).
In a city with a housing crisis like Boulder’s, we feel this is an appropriate step to ease the pressure slightly.
We also believe the members of the new council should, as allowed by law, amend the law with a two-thirds majority to enact affordability requirements for dwellings with more than a certain number of unrelated occupants.
Opponents of the Bedrooms are for People measure point to the possibility of unintended consequences should this be enacted as law: predatory developers enlarging houses so they have 12 rooms and become “stealth dorms” and lawsuits from developers to stop the council from amending the law to include affordability measures.
The group opposing this measure argues that Section 54 of the city charter would handcuff the council from making smart changes to the law. That law says the council can amend an initiative passed by voters “provided that the amendments do not alter or modify the basic intent of such ordinance . . . “
We understand how that would prevent the council from, say, limiting the number of bedrooms, but in a case where the council amended the law to require that rents in a residence with eight or more people must be 25 percent under market rate, we don’t see how increased affordability is in conflict with the measure’s stated intent to increase occupancy.
We’re a Yes on Bedrooms are for People.
BALLOT MEASURE 301: HUMANE CLOTHING ACT
This initiative would ban the manufacture and sale of many new fur products in Boulder.
We’re of two minds about this measure, and hence neutral on picking a side on this one.
On one hand, we agree that the fur industry is disgusting—visit this initiative’s backer’s website at furfreeboulder.com if you need details.
Yet on the other hand, there are currently no businesses in Boulder manufacturing the fur products this initiative specifies, and just a handful that would be impacted by the ban on selling such products.
This proposed fur ban is a symbolic measure; we’ll leave it to your conscience to decide if you’ll cast a symbolic vote to prohibit a problematic industry that we don’t have here in Boulder.
BALLOT QUESTION 302: LET THE VOTERS DECIDE ON ANNEXATION OF CU SOUTH
On September 21, Boulder’s city council voted to annex the CU South property (“Annexed by emergency vote,” Boulder Weekly 9/23/21). The council wanted to move forward with the annexation agreement with CU as is: 155 acres of the 308-acre property would go to the City of Boulder—119 acres of which will become permanently protected open space, and 153 acres of the property will remain available for CU to develop. The current plan will also offer 100-year flood protection for the residents of South Boulder.
That emergency vote happened several weeks ahead of this November’s election, and it set in motion a series of political events that changed the nature of Ballot Question 302.
Prior to that council vote, 302 would have put the question of annexation entirely in the hands of voters, and would have forced conditions favored by groups like Save South Boulder into the annexation agreement. Those conditions (which are still part of Ballot Question 302) include a site plan that specifies zoning; a transportation plan; a financial projection; a financing and payment plan; agreements and permits from all city, county, state, and federal agencies; an environmental impact plan; and a pollution control plan among several other conditions, all before breaking ground on the site.
Proponents of 302, like Save South Boulder, say that these conditions are standard in other examples of city annexation. They say that CU is using this property’s flood mitigation value as leverage to develop parts of the property outside the flood zone however the university would like. They also argue that 100-year flood protection isn’t nearly enough.
Opponents of Ballot Question 302, like Protect Our Neighbors, argue that they need flood protection and they need it now. With a climate crisis impending, there is no knowing when the next big flood will happen and they’d rather the city act sooner rather than later—even if it means cutting CU a favorable annexation agreement, and even if it means getting 100-year flood protection instead of 500-year flood protection.
Mayor Sam Weaver has repeatedly called this ballot question a “poison pill,” because he says it won’t save anyone, but would only delay flood mitigation, potentially indefinitely.
A referendum petition to overturn the city council’s emergency vote is already under way. If 302 is passed, and if that referendum gets enough signatures to overturn the city council vote, then the annexation fails and the city has to move forward with the conditions specified in this ballot question. If the referendum doesn’t get enough signatures, the vote on this ballot question becomes merely symbolic.
Conversely, if ballot question 302 is voted down, and the referendum does get enough signatures to overturn the council’s vote, annexation still fails. But the conditions in 302 are null and void and everyone starts over from scratch.
There is no simple way to explain this extremely complicated and long-debated issue. But in the most basic sense: a Yes vote on 302 means no to the current annexation agreement (flood mitigation and CU construction will have to wait until the conditions are met); and a No vote on 302 means yes to the current annexation agreement (100-year flood mitigation is necessary and South Boulder needs it now).
Having witnessed the devastation and loss that the 2013 flood caused in South Boulder, and having heard testimony from many South Boulder residents on the verge of tears begging city council to act now and save their neighborhoods, Boulder Weekly firmly encourages a No vote on 302. Delaying the annexation of CU South any longer would put those neighborhoods and our community members in direct and imminent danger.
CITY OF LONGMONT
Longmont is no sleepy outpost for commuters into Boulder; it’s a distinct community with a robust arts and culinary scene, expanding secondary educational opportunities, and a number of advanced technology companies.
We don’t have to get bogged down in the exact numbers to tell you what you already know: Longmont’s growing. It’s been growing. And while the pace of growth is a point of contention, there’s no question that the cost of living is going up.
In that way, Longmont is experiencing the same growing pains Boulder has, and is answering the same questions about “who” it wants to be as a city: how it creates affordable housing, how it provides for its unhoused community, how it creates opportunities for education and cultural engagement. Expanding public transportation is a keystone issue in Longmont, particularly since RTD has pushed buildout of the B Line light rail—connecting Boulder and Longmont to Denver—to at least 2042. Other critical issues around affordable living, sustainability, and livability easily tie into access to transportation.
We focused on these issues primarily in our talks with Longmont City Council candidates, allowing them the opportunity to bring other topics to the table if they chose.
Boulder Weekly supported both Tim Waters and Joan Peck in 2019 (Peck each year since her election to council in 2015), and we’re glad that no matter the course of the mayoral election, both will retain their current seats—Waters as the council member for Ward I, Peck as an at-large council member—through 2023. But we lean slightly in favor of selecting Tim Waters for mayor.
We believe that while Waters is a bit more conservative (he supported increasing the water capacity of the Windy Gap project, which many environmentalists believe is just another nail in the coffin for the Colorado River), he’s still progressive, fair minded, policy oriented, and we believe he has the strongest ability to work with people on all sides.
Waters is realistic about the power of a mayor in a “weak” system like Longmont’s: He sees the importance in the sequencing and timing of when issues are brought before council, allowing some issues to “ripen” as council and the public learn more. He, and most council members we spoke to, wants to continue to provide services to Longmont’s unhoused community, focusing on the Housing First approach that research has shown best benefits those experiencing homelessness. Like Peck, Waters does not see RTD as the answer to Northern Colorado’s transportation woes; both believe that the Front Range Passenger Rail is the answer, a “blended” project led by the Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, CDOT, and a consultant team that would take passengers from Fort Collins to Pueblo on heavy rail. Along with Ward II council member Marcia Martin, Waters supports the creation of a subscription electric bus service that local businesses, like Smucker’s, could buy into to give employees a free, environmentally-friendly option for getting to and from work.
Waters would like to see Longmont partner with Boulder County and other municipalities on a regional solution to solid waste diverging in order to cut compost out of landfills and reduce methane gas. He’s also been on the right side of the debate on fracking, vocally supporting SB 181’s mission to empower municipalities with the authority to restrict oil and gas operations, and voting with council to end all surface operation in Longmont (which, we will argue, doesn’t prevent operators from vertically drilling under the city, but we digress).
With a quarter-century career in education (as a practitioner and researcher), Waters is deeply focused on children and education. He believes that affordable access to childcare is a critical component to creating workforce stability, and to fully recovering and evening expanding Longmont’s economy post-pandemic. Waters is also a big supporter of bringing a four-year post-secondary campus to Longmont.
That said, Joan Peck has been a tireless advocate for better transportation, and was voted into office in 2015 as a stronghand for environmental policy. She’s done the job well for six years, and we believe she has Longmont’s best interest at heart.
LONGMONT COUNCIL MEMBER AT LARGE (choose two)
You can only choose two candidates for Longmont council member at large, but we feel there are three candidates worthy of your consideration.
If elected, this would be Sean McCoy’s second term on council, having first served from 2007 to 2011 as the Ward III representative. As a school teacher at Monarch High School in Louisville, McCoy is intimately familiar with the needs of the working class. He believes that the open parking lot at Hover and Nelson roads could be used as a space to build more services for Longmont’s unhoused community, addressing “housing first, mental health and addiction second, then getting people employed.” He’d also like to create a program to digitize important documents, like IDs and birth certificates, for those experiencing homelessness, to eliminate the issues often exacerbated when things are lost during encampment sweeps. McCoy believes that Longmont has to look to strategic infill to fulfill its transportation and affordable housing goals, creating a walkable community that takes cars off the road. He’d like to see all public buildings have solar panels to begin moving Longmont’s grid closer to 100 percent renewable energy.
Born and raised in Longmont, performing musician turned real estate appraiser Aren Rodriguez makes an ideal council member, with a strong understanding of the culture of the town and an equally strong vision for how to shape Longmont’s future. Rodriguez, like all of the candidates Boulder Weekly supports, believes in continuing to provide support for the unhoused community, and rejects Boulder’s approach to criminalizing homelessness through “draconian” measures like the camping ban and encampment raids. He takes a “proactive” approach to improving infrastructure, particularly in historic parts of town where water pipes are sometimes 100 years old. He looks to practical solutions for sustainability, like creating policies that will include more solar power running through Longmont’s grid, with better incentives for homeowners to install solar. Rodriguez’s ideal solution for transportation would be to pull away from RTD completely and create a special transportation district and work with surrounding municipalities to create a regional transit system.
Shiquita Yarbrough brings a number of critical perspectives to the table: She’s the only candidate running for Longmont City Council who rents; she worked for a number of years as a property manager for the housing authority in Austin, Texas; and, if elected, she’d be the first African-American on council in Longmont’s 150-year existence. Since moving to Longmont in 2012, Shiquita has been deeply involved in the community, managing core programs at the YWCA, serving on the Housing and Human Advisory board, hosting a KGNU program called “Victorious Single Parents,” and co-founding Families of Color Colorado. We think Longmont could use Yarbrough’s perspective, and we believe Yarbrough will develop more solid plans as she has time to grow on council.
LONGMONT COUNCIL WARD II
Marcia Martin (unopposed) ✔
Though she lacks an opponent, we still support Marcia Martin’s bid to retain her seat as Ward II councilor. In her four years on council, she placed great emphasis on sustainability, helping Longmont commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 and advocating for change to Longmont’s policy for solar generators to give homeowners incentive to install rooftop solar. Martin supports the unhoused community in Longmont by advocating for a lower barrier to entrance at shelters. When it comes to transportation, Martin’s “answer is in urban planning for density and the reclamation of asphalt.” She wants to make Longmont a walkable city (by building and repairing sidewalks) and supports negotiating with RTD to use Longmont’s tax revenue to fund intercity transit only, and says she’d insist that future RTD local transit projects be piloted in Longmont instead of Denver.
LONGMONT JUDICIAL RETENTION: JUDGE ROBERT J. FRICK
Judge Robert Frick was first appointed in 2008 as the presiding judge of the City of Greeley, and in the years since he’s served as an associate, assistant, substitute, or special judge for the communities of Edgewater, Elizabeth, Frederick, Greeley, Lakewood, Loveland, Nederland, and Wheat Ridge. Boulder Weekly supports his retention, as we did in 2019, and as 75 percent of Longmont voters did the same year.
CITY OF LAFAYETTE
LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 cyber attack that left the city scrambling for ransom money, Lafayette has faced some unique challenges in the last two years. Add those to the city’s ongoing struggles with development, housing, mental health and human services, public safety, oil and gas development, and a changing climate, and it has been a busy term for the city council members—with potentially even busier terms to come.
Many of the issues important to Lafayette’s voters echo those facing other cities in Boulder County: Lafayette is in need of creative solutions for affordable and attainable housing; many residents have been devastated emotionally and economically from the COVID-19 pandemic; local businesses are struggling; and emergency services are under-resourced.
At the same time, the city is striving for sustainability and environmental consciousness. It’s trying to make itself a welcoming and affordable place for people and businesses—a safe place that supports its residents’ needs.
To most of Lafayette’s city council candidates, those are among their top priorities to address, should they be elected. Some have other unique goals, but they all acknowledge that the “small-town feel” of Lafayette is essential to its character—something they’re determined to maintain.
There are just five candidates running in Lafayette—Tonya Briggs, Brian Wong, Nicole Samson, Enihs Medrano and Brandon Stites—all competing for four City Council seats. And with several incumbents running, plus a grant administrator and a couple of young, up-and-coming local activists, it’s shaping up to be an interesting race.
And not just because it’s a musical-chairs-style vote with five candidates and just four open seats, but because all five of these candidates bring different passions for their city to the table, different perspectives, and, in many cases, unique ideas for solving the challenges that face Lafayette.
We chose our top candidates based on the clarity of their visions for Lafayette, the direction they’d like to see the city move in, their experience, and their history with the city.
Tonya Briggs (incumbent)
Tonya Briggs grew up in Boulder County, and has lived in Lafayette with her family for 13 years. She fosters cats, dogs, and sometimes chickens.
But perhaps the most telling detail about Tonya Briggs’ personality and political candidacy is that she’s a plumber against pipelines. She and her partner own a local plumbing business, but she’s vehemently opposed to gas pipelines and the oil and gas development that comes with them. She puts environmental stewardship over almost any other priority. Except, she says, over protecting Lafayette’s mobile home parks and their residents. She understands how hard (and expensive) it is to live in her community, and wants to find ways to make it easier for people who work there to live there.
As a small business owner herself, Briggs understands the struggles and needs that other local businesses have. She says she enjoys helping business owners in her community navigate processes like assembling grants or obtaining business licenses.
Briggs has served two years on the Lafayette City Council and she’s excited about the direction that the city is moving in. Although Lafayette’s Comprehensive Plan won’t be published until January 2022, she says she’s hopeful it will finally give the council a real opportunity to dig into zoning code issues, and housing initiatives in the coming years.
As the youngest candidate running for a seat on Lafayette’s city council, what Eniihs Medrano, 20, lacks in experience she makes up for with her passion for social change. Medrano grew up in Lafayette and is currently a junior-year student at CU, studying sociology.
As a young Latina woman, she believes that her representation is badly needed on Lafayette’s city council. Not only would she be bringing a Gen Z perspective to a generally older council, but she’d also bring the perspective of a Hispanic community member—who account for 16.4 percent of Lafayette’s population.
Medrano says her biggest priorities should she be elected would be affordable housing, sustainability, and education/youth involvement. She’s eager to get involved and to serve her community, and says she’s excited to continue investing her time, energy, and self into the community that raised her. She may be green, but she’s extremely bright and very energetic, which is why she earned our support.
As a grant administrator, Nicole Samson doesn’t just bring budget management experience to the table, she’s also spent years working with nonprofits, held positions in local government, and has a master’s degree in public administration. She’s even served on Lafayette’s city council before, albeit temporarily in 2019 to fill a six-month vacancy.
She’s qualified for the position, and her priorities are in the right places: She wants to create and implement affordable housing solutions, not just to reduce homelessness but also to make living in Lafayette a real possibility for the teachers, firefighters, and police who serve their city. She wants to protect small businesses and make Lafayette a place where they flourish in order to sustain the small-town feel of the city. She also wants responsible public safety, meaning more firefighters, more police officers, and more resources for both.
Our only hangup in supporting Samson was her hesitation regarding the Mental Health and Human Services initiative on Lafayette’s city ballot this year, which would support the availability of such services within the community. Samson is concerned that a sales tax is the wrong way to fund the program.
Though we disagree with Samson on that ballot question, we’re supporting her candidacy in large part because of her experience and qualifications.
Brian Wong (incumbent)
Brian Wong moved to Lafayette in 2007 because he’d been priced out of neighboring Louisville. He’s been an active and passionate member of the community in the years since, having spent seven years on the city’s planning commission (of which he is now the chair) and having already served two years on the Lafayette City Council starting in 2019.
Today, Wong is watching the same thing happen in Lafayette that brought him there in the first place: A lot of his community members are being priced out of the town. Which is why, to Wong, every housing option should be on the table: mobile homes, tiny homes, ADUs . . . He thinks the city’s zoning codes need serious reevaluation, and he thinks the cost of land could be offset with incentives for developers to make it cheaper and more attractive to build affordable housing units.
Wong has good ideas, though some of his priorities seem to come out of left field. He is interested in establishing municipally-funded elections, and is fixated on obtaining municipal broadband similar to Longmont’s. To Wong, access to the internet is a civil rights issue—it should be cheap and attainable for all residents. Especially in an era when so many (like Wong) are working from home.
In 2019, Governor Polis signed into law an amendment to the Colorado Fair Campaign Practices Act that changed the law to provide that complaints originating from a municipal campaign finance matter be exclusively filed with the clerk of said municipality. Prior to this amendment, all such complaints were filed with the Colorado Secretary of State.
Ordinance No. 12 establishes the process for campaign finance complaints to be filed with Lafayette’s city clerk, bringing the code into compliance with state law. We encourage a Yes vote.
These ordinances are clear-cut: The former “proposes amendments to the Home Rule Charter to remove masculine and feminine pronouns and replace them with neutral, gender-free designations,” while the latter “proposes amendments to the Home Rule Charter to remove and replace archaic language with more modern terminology, including certain instances of the word ‘citizen’ and the term ‘master.’”
Neither ordinance will incur an additional cost on taxpayers, and both will bring the city’s charter in line with more inclusive language. Municipalities around the country are making similar changes.
It should be noted that in Ordinance 14, the switch from “citizen” to “resident” (or “the public,” “the people,” and “community”) will occur in places in the charter where no distinction based on citizenship is necessary or legally required, such as when someone is leading an initiative process (signers must still be citizens, but anyone can lead the charge on an initiative); when referring to any members of the public who may be called upon by the mayor to assist in an emergency; or when referring to individuals speaking to the city council.
We wholeheartedly support both ordinances.
Lafayette’s Ordinance No. 15 simply brings the town’s home rule charter in line with statutory provisions requiring a city councilor be a resident for one year prior to the date of an election (the current language states a councilmember must be a resident for one year prior to the last day for filing to run for the office). This is a no-brainer, please vote Yes on this ordinance.
Lafayette does not have a municipal department to help with human services. This ballot measure would allow the city to partner with nonprofit organizations in Boulder County to support mental health, medical care, domestic violence victims, and families who need assistance funding rent, childcare, utilities, or food.
If approved, the mental health and human services measure will add 0.10 percent sales and use tax, or 1.0 cents on a $10 purchase, to help fund these services.
With the exponentially exorbitant cost of living in Boulder County, coupled with the pressures of an ongoing pandemic, having safety net programs like the ones that Lafayette hopes to produce with this measure are a step in the right direction—especially when the cost is this low. Boulder Weekly strongly supports a Yes vote on this.
If approved, Lafayette’s public safety ballot initiative will increase the sales and use tax by 0.27 percent, or 2.7 cents on a $10 purchase, to fund public safety services, including hiring more police officers, firefighters, and medics; replacing aging and outdated equipment for city firefighters and first responders; purchasing body cameras for police and paying for the storage of body camera footage; and hiring mental health co-responders to accompany police on calls involving behavioral health issues.
While Boulder Weekly does not support enlarging police forces, it does support many of the other goals of this resolution, particularly hiring mental health co-responders to accompany police. We believe this kind of response minimizes violence, arrests, and the use of jails. For this reason, we strongly support a yes vote on Resolution 54.
CITY OF LOUISVILLE
LOUISVILLE CITY COUNCIL
Unlike elsewhere in Boulder County, Louisville has a lot of open land zoned for development that is going unused. But the city is trying to do something about it. One of the most important and long-debated topics in the city for several years now is how to fill the 388-acre P66 project (aka the ConocoPhillips campus, or “Redtail Ridge”) and the 45-acre “Parcel O.” These properties have remained vacant despite each representing significant tax and development revenue for the city.
Louisville is also currently considering a number of transportation improvements that are on the ballot this year. Namely, installing six underpasses and new bike trails throughout the community to make foot, bicycle, and multi-modal forms of transportation easier, and to make the community safer and more accessible for residents. The $50 million price tag on this ballot initiative has caused some hesitation—but to many in the community it’s an affordable price for a much needed municipal amenity.
These issues will be at the forefront of a new city council’s dockett. Each of Louisville’s candidates from each of the city’s three wards have similar ideas for handling these issues, and they each bring different qualifications and levels of experience. They all agreed that Louisville has progress to make on these fronts and others, including airplane noise and the affordable housing crisis, which has made it harder to adequately staff Louisville’s schools, fire stations, emergency medical vehicles, and police departments.
This year, each ward in Louisville has one city council seat open. In Wards 1 and 2, the candidates—Maxine Most and Kyle Brown—are running unopposed. Nevertheless we spoke with all of them, and we’re backing those who best understood Louisville’s needs, the issues facing their community, and who had the most concrete ideas for how to achieve Louisville’s potential.
Chris Leh (incumbent) ✔
As a career litigator, 20-year Louisville local, and incumbent city council member, Chris Leh has a good handle on the finer details of Louisville’s current goings on. He has an answer and knowledge to offer about any Louisville issue you bring up to him, from transportation improvements to developing the ConocoPhillips campus (though Leh is currently prohibited from talking about the latter issue due to the council’s quasi-judicial role regarding the development).
Leh is pro-sustainability and has interesting ideas for how materials can be used to construct more efficient buildings. He is dedicated to preserving Louisville’s local character and stimulating its economic development through small business support. He’s also for the transportation improvements on the ballot this year, which he sees as life-saving safety improvements. He also notes that they’ll serve to connect the community as well as reduce its carbon footprint.
The housing crisis in Louisville is high on Leh’s list of priorities, as well. He agrees that there is a need for single family homes in Louisville, but believes there’s also a serious need for multi-family homes and residential housing in certain parts of the city, particularly on the west side of McCaslin Boulevard. He’s going to push to raise the profile of affordable housing in Louisville City Council’s work plan, should he be elected to a second term. We encourage you to help make that happen.
Maxine Most (uncontested) ✔
Maxine Most has been in Louisville since 2006, when she moved from Boulder and bought a home for her and her young daughter. “I think decisions that were made even 20 years ago weren’t really thinking about the future,” she says. Most feels that developers have had their way with previous iterations of Louisville’s city council, and she wants to enact policies that enforce sustainable development, like a 30 percent open space requirement.
Most supports the $50 million transportation connectivity ballot measure in Louisville, and emphasizes her focus on the town’s future. “Whether it’s Erie or Lafayette or Louisville, these were little towns that were run like little towns, and now there’s more people here, a more sophisticated citizenry, and expectations are higher.” We believe Maxine Most will meet her constituents’ expectations.
Kyle Brown (incumbent, uncontested) ✔
As a self described life-long public servant, Kyle Brown is exactly the kind of person that cities should want on their council. By day he works at the state capitol, advising the governor, lobbying for affordable healthcare for Louisville and all of Colorado, and he’s worked with two different U.S. Senators. By night he’s working in Louisville’s city council chambers, protecting open space, supporting COVID relief programs, creating an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, promoting mask-wearing, and generally working hard to make Louisville a better place to live.
Brown grew up in Louisville, married a Louisville woman, and is now raising his family in Louisville. He’s invested in this community, and that’s apparent by how seriously he takes his role as a public servant and city councilmember. He’s served two years on the council already, and is running for reelection because he’s proud of the work he did and feels he genuinely helped his community navigate some of the hardest times it’s ever endured.
But he also recognizes that there’s a lot more that needs to be done. Brown is in full support of the transportation improvement program and is a big proponent of environmental sustainability. But he says his biggest priorities, if reelected, will be to promote economic vitality and to do everything he can to attract businesses to Louisville—to develop the city’s currently vacant properties so that they can start generating tax revenue for the city.
There have been more than 15 traffic-related fatalities in Boulder County in 2021, some involving bikes and pedestrians. For the last several years, Louisville has been engaging with its residents on projects the city could take on to improve safety and connectivity in its transportation system. They landed on six underpasses: South Boulder Road at Main Street, Highway 42 at Short/South/Caledonia, Power Line Trail at Dillon Road, South Boulder Road at Via Appia, Burlington Northern Railroad in the proximity of the Highline Lateral Trail, and South Boulder Road at Highway 42.
This measure would increase property taxes so the city can finance the construction of six underpasses for $51,420,000, with a repayment cost of $90,240,000. The tax increase would begin in 2023. The city would use some of its sales and use tax, as well as contributions from the Louisville Revitalization Commission, to repay a portion of the debt, which the city says should reduce the tax increase for residents.
The estimated annual impact on residential property taxes could be as much as $390, while commercial property taxes could increase by as much as $1,581 annually.
The city of Louisville says that it cannot sustain the costs of the proposed improvements with current funding. However, the current bond package maxes out Louisville’s bonding capacity for a number of years into the future, which could limit options if emergencies (like the need for significant water infrastructure improvements, for example) arise. While Colorado has some of the lowest property tax rates in the nation, the cost of living is fairly high in Boulder County, and this increase could have a disproportionate impact on certain demographics, like those on fixed incomes.
For these reasons, we weakly encourage a Yes vote on this measure, with the understanding that these types of infrastructure improvement are important but difficult to fund.
BOULDER VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION
Sky Van Horn
Kitty Sargent (unopposed) ✔
It’s never been more evident than it is now—to parents, teachers, and school faculty across the country—just how important the makeup of a school district’s board of education is. They’ve always served substantial roles: approving the district’s budget, supervising the superintendent, guiding policy change and generally acting as a bridge between the community and the school district.
But, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of the board of education has become decidedly more robust. The pandemic shook school districts across the country, and changed what was required from almost every role in education. Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) and its school board were no exceptions. BVSD is grappling with some of the biggest challenges it’s ever faced: divided parents, declining enrollment, lack of staff and faculty, and widening gaps in learning, achievement, and equity. Not to mention the recall petition circulating that aims to remove several current BVSD board members for their support of mask mandates.
These are just some of the issues that BVSD’s board of education will have to help the district navigate. They aren’t unique to Boulder, but how they’re handled will define BVSD’s foreseeable future.
Three of BVSD’s seven board of education seats are open this election (one of which is term-limited): District B, District E, and District F. While each candidate is required to live in the Director District they’re running from, the entire BVSD community votes on these seats.
After conversations with each of the candidates about all of the challenges they’ll be helping BVSD to manage and discussing their solutions and visions of direction, here are our three selections.
Nicole Rajpal has a bachelor’s degree in science and nutrition and a master’s in curriculum and instruction, she’s worked as a dietary nutritionist in pediatrics, and she’s helped prepare students for careers in healthcare as an instructor at Front Range Community College. Rajpal served six years on school accountability committees in BVSD, has decades of volunteer experience under her belt, and two children currently attending in the district. She’s dedicated to making scientifically-informed, data-driven decisions about health and safety in schools. Rajpal wants to make sure that the district stays on course to achieve the equitable opportunities outlined in BVSD’s strategic action plan.
With over 15 years in education Beth Niznik has worked as a special education teacher, a school psychologist, and a special education administrator before she got a job working for the Colorado Department of Education. She’s worked at every level of the education system, which has granted her a unique perspective on it. Her first priorities on the board would be to address BVSD’s declining enrollment and the current staffing shortage, and also manage the immediate challenges that COVID-19 has created. Having worked in state government and education for so long, Niznik is very familiar with budgeting and has an intimate understanding of how the state Department of Education works and relates to individual districts.
Kitty Sargent is a former teacher and social worker who specialized in child abuse prevention. For 19 years, while her children were in school, she volunteered for BVSD in different roles. And for the last four years she’s served on the BVSD board of education. Sargent is running for reelection (uncontested in her Director District). Her biggest priorities in a second term would be closing the achievement gap and reviewing the policy review system.
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION
Karen Ragland (unopposed) ✔
Sarah Hurianek ✔
The St. Vrain Valley School District, which includes Longmont, Lyons, and Erie schools, as well as parts of Broomfield, Larimer, and Weld Counties, is highly regarded by parents and teachers alike for its academic success and fiscal health. Its graduation rate has steadily increased for more than a decade, the district excels at offering a varied selection of educational tracks for its students, and its teachers receive regular salary raises.
The district has also seen success with its race and gender equity training for teachers and resultant inclusive curriculum. Though it recently ended a seven-year partnership with A Queer Endeavor, the LTBQ+ advocacy center at CU’s school of education, the candidates we’re supporting expressed enthusiasm for continuing efforts at inclusivity initiatives. We hope to see SVVSD proceed forward with its academic excellence and equity goals, despite some politically-charged criticism from a vocal minority of parents.
The candidates on our slate are all mothers of SVVSD students, committed to preserving the district’s commitment to inclusion and equity, and supportive of the district’s efforts to promote public health during the pandemic.
Incumbent Karen Ragland, a community mental health counselor, is unopposed in her campaign to retain her school board seat in District B. In that role, she says she’s committed to being an excellent steward of taxpayer dollars while keeping the board’s focus on the students—”governance-focused” is how she characterizes herself.
Meosha Brooks is an aerospace engineer with four children attending St. Vrain schools, and aims to focus on promoting STEM education as well as vocational and trades skills so individual students can find their unique path within the St. Vrain system.
Sarah Hurianek is a former pre-K educator with two children at Mead Elementary, where she’s involved in the Parent Advisory Council. Hurianek is married to an assistant principal in another district whose parents are both retired St. Vrain educators. Hurianek is committed to accessibility and listening to the community, she says. “I don’t think there’s enough people willing to sit down and have discussions where there’s active listening and learning from one another, and that’s truly my goal.”
STATE OF COLORADO
This measure would amend the state’s constitution to require Colorado’s General Assembly to determine how “custodial money,” like federal grant money and private donations, is spent.
This is a reactionary measure by right-wing opponents of Governor Jared Polis who were dissatisfied with Polis spending the state’s nearly $1.7 billion from the CARES Act without legislative approval.
Passage of this bill could hinder swift delivery of emergency funds to communities in need by requiring legislative approval for dispersal; it’s a bad idea.
We’re calling for a No vote on Amendment 78, but it’s possible this measure won’t even make it to the ballot. A lawsuit has been filed to remove the measure from this year’s ballot, alleging its presence on the ballot is illegal because odd-year elections are reserved for issues related to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR.
There is a simplicity to Proposition 119 that’s both encouraging and misleading at once.
On its face Proposition 119 is self-evident: it would place an additional 5 percent tax on cannabis sales to create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress (LEAP) program. LEAP would offer tutoring, music, dance, and art enrichment programs, language instruction, career and technical training, mental health services and physical therapy, support for students with special needs, mentoring, and more. The sales tax would start in January 2022 at 3 percent and would incrementally increase over two years to 5 percent by 2024—at which point, cannabis sales tax would be at 20 percent, far higher than any other legal product.
LEAP is meant to help level the playing field for students by offering additional resources for supplemental education. Some parents in Colorado spend thousands of dollars a year on things like language or exam tutors, extracurricular activities, and clubs—costs that a lot of families in Colorado simply can’t afford. LEAP would ensure that those students have access to the same opportunities and attempt to help close the state’s tenacious achievement gap. Families making between $25,000 and $50,000 annually could apply, and if selected, they would receive priority for a $1,500-a-year stipend which can be used to pay for a certified tutor or instructor of their choice.
But the funds for LEAP won’t just be funneled from cannabis sales taxes. Proposition 119 would also divert $21 million in 2021‑22 and $22 million in 2022-23 from the State Land Trust to the State Public School Fund. That money would not be subject to constitutional spending limits, and once distributed, it would go to private contractors and providers who could potentially be based out-of-state.
Proponents of Proposition 119 argue that it’s an easy way to bolster student achievement, and uplift underserved families with supplemental educational opportunities. Some claim that it will help remedy the academic damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and bridge the achievement gap.
Opponents of this bill (which notably include the Marijuana Industry Group and Colorado NORML, two cannabis advocacy groups) see this as an untenable tax hike on the state’s cannabis users. Colorado NORML argues that the state is already reaping over $32 million in marijuana taxes and fees annually, and asks, “When is too high too HIGH?!”
There are also questions about how accessible the funds from Proposition 119 would actually be for rural and low-income students. The Colorado Education Association withdrew its support for Proposition 119 in June, publicly stating that they’d rather find new forms of funding for education instead of increasing cannabis sales taxes.
There’s also the fact that Proposition 119 would divert money out of the Public Land Trust and into the hands of private service providers. Some nonprofit educational service providers questioned this, as only for-profit educational service providers would be eligible for LEAP.
While we at Boulder Weekly agree completely that Colorado’s underserved students need a program like LEAP to level the playing field and gain access to supplemental education opportunities, we aren’t convinced this is the right approach to achieve that. Cannabis shouldn’t be the state’s go-to money tree every time it wants to raise resources for something Colorado needs. That’s why we’re urging you to vote No on proposition 119.
Proposition 120 was initially intended to cut property taxes on all homes and businesses, but a last-minute bill in the General Assembly drastically limited the proposition’s impact—but not in time to alter the ballot language you’ll see this November. Long story short, Prop 120 will now only reduce taxes for multifamily residential units and commercial lodging properties. Conservative nonprofit Colorado Rising State Action has backed Prop 120, and says that if voters say yes to the limited scope of the proposition, the group will file a lawsuit aimed at implementing the full amount of the tax cut as originally proposed. Boulder Weekly strongly encourages a No vote on Prop 120. While most counties in Colorado are not financially strapped in the wake of pandemic-driven federal infusions of cash, property tax cuts would decrease the amount of money that counties and districts can budget for future years to maintain things like water, transportation, education, and emergency services. Tax cuts would affect counties unequally, with densely populated areas containing many multi-family and lodging properties (Boulder, Broomfield, Denver) losing the most property tax revenue.