Election reaction 2021

Takes and analysis after Tuesday's contests


Analysis in this article is based on the most recent results available at press time; for the latest election results from Boulder County, click here.

UPDATE: In Longmont, councilman and mayoral candidate Tim Waters messaged Boulder Weekly to relay that he’d conceded to fellow councilwoman Joan Peck in the mayor’s race. Waters is down to Peck by 874 votes as of the 8:56 p.m. tally Wednesday night.

UPDATE: As of the results posted at 8:56 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4, candidate Michael Christy has dropped out of the top five vote-getters destined to become councilmembers. The Boulder County Clerk has said more returns will arrive on Friday, November 5, but as of this most current count, the top five Boulder City Council candidates in order of votes received is as follows:

—Mark Wallach

—Matt Benjamin

—Nicole Speer

—Lauren Folkerts

—Tara Winer

If these results hold, progressive endorsees of the Boulder Coalition (Benjamin, Speer, Folkerts) will gain more seats than the two Forward Boulder candidates (Wallach and Winer); they would join current Coalition-endorsed councilmembers Aaron Brockett, Rachel Friend, and Junie Joseph on the council, giving the progressive/Coalition candidates a 6-3 majority on the council.

City of Boulder

The crowd gathered at Ash’Kara on Pearl Street Tuesday night didn’t seem outwardly fazed by the first batch of election results that came in at 7 p.m., though the numbers didn’t give them a lot of reasons to celebrate.

The party at Ash’Kara was hosted by the Boulder Coalition, a group (of groups) backing the so-called progressive slate of candidates for city council: Matt Benjamin, Lauren Folkerts, Nicole Speer, and Dan Williams (all of whom Boulder Weekly endorsed, along with incumbent Mark Wallach). The Coalition also supported Ballot Question 300, the Bedrooms are for People initiative to increase home occupancy limits in Boulder, and opposed 302, the ballot measure proposing that citizens have the final say in any agreement with the CU South property (which Boulder City Council already agreed to annex, but more on that later . . . )

The earliest returns showed Benjamin and Speer in the fourth and fifth spots, but Folkerts and Williams in seventh and eighth, respectively. Bedrooms are for People was also looking grim, at about 59 percent against the measure.

But among the throng in Ash’Kara, optimism still reigned. A supporter patted Benjamin on the shoulder as they weaved their way through the restaurant—”You’re in, we’ve got this,” he assured the candidate, who’s held a steady fourth place in every count released prior to the publication of this story. “The students, the younger voters, they vote later,” Benjamin told a reporter, hopeful that the numbers would swing as day-of ballots were counted. Councilwoman Rachel Friend, in an emerald wig and with her parents in tow, echoed the hope that later results would bring more votes for the progressives.

Just a few blocks away, at The Post, the opposing slate of candidates, supported by Forward Boulder, were in a triumphant mood. Three of the Forward Boulder endorsees—incumbent Mark Wallach, Michael Christy, and Tara Winer—were taking the top three slots. And Steve Rosenblum, widely demonized by the opposing slate’s supporters, wasn’t far out of fifth place (the top four vote-getters win four-year terms; the fifth gets a two-year term).

The crowd was older at The Post, more buttoned-up, a scene full of wine glasses and white tablecloths, spiced up by the antics of children running around. The Forward candidates—including Rosenblum, who at the time this was printed, continues to be short of votes to earn a seat on council—took to speechmaking around 8 p.m. The second batch of numbers came in around a quarter till 9 (another tally of results was released at 12:37 a.m. Wednesday; those are the most recent results as of this writing). Winer expressed relief that her campaign was over, but said she’d miss door-knocking—“I might be addicted to that.”

The two subsequent result drops didn’t change the makeup or order of the top five vote-getters, though in the most recent tally Lauren Folkerts edged just slightly past Rosenblum in sixth place. Both were within 450 votes of Speer.

Midday on Wednesday, candidates and advocates for and against ballot measures were taking stock, making guesses as to how many ballots remain to be counted— Mircalla Wozniak, the Boulder county clerk and recorder’s communication director, told Boulder Weekly around noon that she expected about another 10,000 ballots were still to come. That’s certainly enough to change the thin margins in the city council race. But for 300 and 302, Bedrooms are for People and Let the Voters Decide on Annexation of CU South, the trends would have to drastically reverse to save either initiative.

The results as of early Wednesday morning look like this: Wallach, Winer, Christy, Benjamin, and Speer join the new city council; Bedrooms are for People and Let the Voters Decide on Annexation CU South both fail by a curiously similar margin, 58 percent to 42 percent. (Ballot Measure 301, the fur ban, which BW did not make an endorsement for or against, was nearly evenly split at press time.)

“We’re down a bit more than we’d hoped at this point,” Eric Budd from the Bedrooms are for People campaign said Wednesday morning. Budd and Bedrooms co-lead Chelsea Castellano both pointed to a poll conducted in January showing 75 percent of Boulderites supported expanding occupancy limits.

“This is an off-year election, and off-year elections are always very difficult,” Castellano said.

Former councilwoman Jan Burton—a Coalition member and supporter of the Bedrooms initiative who commissioned the aforementioned poll—felt turnout was strikingly low. Though as she spoke there was no hard data to confirm or refute the notion. “It was a bit of a negative campaign,” she remarked, while she was out collecting political yard signs. “And, frankly, I think people don’t like slates that much.”

Indeed, if these results hold, voters will have chosen three representatives from the Forward Boulder/slow-growth slate and two from the Boulder Coalition progressive slate, who will join a council composed of four candidates previously supported by the Coalition. This would be a majority for Coalition candidates, but the Boulder Coalition isn’t a political party with a platform candidates adhere to, and that advantage may be irrelevant.

“I hope it’s a council where each council member considers their position and listens to their constituents and considers all sides of an issue and votes,” Burton said, “so it could be that there’s no real one power on the council. I think that can be a very healthy thing.”

Sam Weaver, the outgoing mayor, was looking at two victories, though he was pleased his name wasn’t on the ballot again. Weaver was a strong critic of the Bedrooms initiative and its wording, which didn’t specifically provide for affordability. “I believe the next council is very likely to take up the occupancy issue—I think the good thing about having 300 on the ballot is it shows it’s a priority for a lot of people.”

Weaver also strongly opposed 302, the CU South measure, which sought to prevent the council from doing precisely what it did with Weaver’s support—move forward with the annexation of CU South. 

Opponents of the annexation have already filed more than enough signatures for a referendum to reverse the decision the council made, and that question will be on next year’s ballot—though Weaver hopes the results of 302 are a bellwether of that coming vote.

“I think 302 predicts that the community’s going to stand by the annexation agreement,” Weaver said, “and the year we’ll have between now and then will be used to educate people about details that might have been unclear.”

Former councilman and 302 backer Steve Pomerance has a different vision for CU South’s future in the ensuing year: That the new council will consider the 6,000 or so signees backing the referendum to reverse the annexation, overturn the previous council’s vote, and proceed with a new, different solution.

“You don’t get 5,700 good signatures in under four weeks on something people don’t care about,” Pomerance said Wednesday morning. “Maybe [the new council] sees this as an opportunity to do something a lot better than what a previous council did. They could get a better deal.”

Down-ballot, voters overwhelmingly supported the measures extending the Community, Culture, Safety, Resilience tax and the related debt question, and approved the measures related to council subcommittees, council pay, and petition signatures.

But still, too many votes remain untabulated to definitively call the Boulder City Council race, the Bedrooms are for People initiative, the fur ban, or Let the Voters Decide on CU South. 

Those currently on the losing end in these counts can reassure themselves that miracles occasionally happen.

City of Longmont

“The fun part of campaigning is meeting people I never would have met otherwise,” Tim Waters, Longmont’s Ward I councilman and mayoral candidate, told a crowd of around 30 people at the Fox Hill Club around 7 p.m. on election night, just before the first round of results was reported. 

Moments later, the crowd sighed collectively as the numbers came up on a large screen at the front of the room: Fellow council member and mayoral hopeful Joan Peck was ahead by around a dozen votes. 

But the night was young and the crowd, which included uncontested Ward II candidate Marcia Martin, remained optimistic, and grew to around 50 people by 7:30. When the second round of results rolled in around 8:30 p.m., Waters had taken the lead by more than 100 votes. He continued to gain votes through the night, extending his lead by more than 300 votes over Peck by Wednesday morning. Mayoral candidate Gregory Harris trailed Waters and Peck by more than 3,000 votes as of publication. 

In the six-way at-large race, incumbent Aren Rodriguez and newcomer Shaquita Yarbrough appear to have secured the two open seats. This would be Rodriguez’s second term on council. 

While Boulder Weekly endorsed Waters in the mayoral contest, we highlighted Peck’s commitment to Longmont’s city council since taking her seat in 2015, and commended her devotion to environmental sustainability and improved public transportation. We received numerous letters in the weeks prior to the election supporting Peck. Peck will retain her at-large seat on council to finish up her final term if Waters’ lead holds.

During a pre-election interview with Waters, he stated, “To be successful, [Longmont has] to have two fundamentals: housing and childcare.” With a quarter-century career in education (as a practitioner and researcher), Waters places a strong emphasis on children and education. He believes that affordable access to childcare is a critical component to creating workforce stability, and to fully recovering and even expanding Longmont’s economy post-pandemic. Expect Waters to continue being a vocal supporter of bringing a four-year post-secondary campus to Longmont.

Some have accused Waters of being pro-development, and others—including Boulder Weekly—have been critical of his stance on increasing the water capacity of the Windy Gap project, which many environmentalists believe is just another nail in the coffin for the Colorado River. But the ship on Windy Gap has sailed, with the council approving the expansion in 2020.   

Waters believes in the Housing First approach that research has shown best benefits those experiencing homelessness, and will continue to support programming that helps people transition back into housing. With regards to transportation, Waters does not see RTD as the answer to Northern Colorado’s transportation woes; he has stated that he believes 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. 

In a second term, Longmont native Aren Rodriguez has promised to continue his measured approach to governance, focusing on “unsexy” but necessary issues like improving town infrastructure, particularly in historic parts of town where water pipes are often more than 100 years old. The performing musician turned real estate appraiser has stated that he will look 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. 

As stated in Boulder Weekly’s election guide, Shiquita Yarbrough brings a number of critical perspectives to the table: She was 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 now she may 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. 

While Yarbrough’s lack of governmental experience was mentioned as a concern by some attendees at Waters’ election party, others countered this critique, arguing that a less privileged, less monied voice is necessary to better balance council.  

The crowd at the Fox Hill Club began to wane after the second round of ballots was tabulated around 8:30 p.m. But before supporters could leave for the evening, Waters left them with a limerick:

“This campaign has ground on for a while / We’ve worked hard from the first step to last mile / Whatever our fate / You all have been great / So we’ll finish this thing with a smile.”

City of Lafayette

There were four seats open on the Lafayette City Council, and only five candidates—two of whom were very young for public office seekers (both in their 20s). The voters look to have chosen to reelect incumbents Brian Wong and Tonya Briggs, and chose Nicole Sampson and Enihs Medrano to serve their first full terms on city council. Sampson served on Lafayette’s city council temporarily in 2019 to fill a six month vacancy; but Medrano, who is just 20 years old, has never served in any political capacity before. 

All of these candidates talked about addressing Lafayette’s housing crisis by creating both affordable and attainable housing options in the city. They also all supported measures to make their community safer and ensure that residents have access to necessary mental health services. 

Wong will likely continue his push for progress on establishing municipal internet for Lafayette. Briggs will be excited to continue advocating for local small businesses. Samson will push for more police and firefighters and more resources for both. Medrano will bring a young and energetic Latina perspective to the council, and aims to promote sustainability however she can. 

And Brandon Stites, the only official candidate to not be elected this year, should most certainly run again in the future. Lafayette’s city council will undoubtedly need more young, bright, politically motivated locals like him moving forward, as several current council members are term-limited after this election. 

Both measures, Ordinances No. 13 and No. 14, pertaining to inclusive language, passed in Lafayette. The first, to amend the home rule charter pertaining to gender neutral references, will remove masculine and feminine pronouns and replace them with neutral, gender-free designations. The second, pertaining to archaic language, will switch words like“citizen” to “resident” (or “the public,” “the people,” and/or “community”) in the charter.

Neither of these ordinances will cost taxpayers anything, and both promote more inclusive language within the City of Lafayette. 

Lafayette voted Yes on ballot question 2F, requiring any city council candidates to have been a resident of the town for at least one year prior to election day. Previous language required them to have been a resident for one year, prior to the last day for filing to run for the office. This brings the town home’s rule charter in line with state statutory requirements. 

The City of Lafayette voted in favor of both ballot issues 2B and 2C—concerning mental health and human services, and public safety respectively. 

The Mental Health and Human Services measure makes it possible for Lafayette 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. 

It adds 0.10 percent sales and use tax to help fund these services. 

The public safety measure will provide funds for hiring more police officers, firefighters, and medics; replacing aging and outdated equipment for city firefighters and first responders; purchasing body cameras; and hiring mental health co-responders to accompany police when they’re called to address behavioral health issues. This measure also provides these funds through a .27 percent increase in sales and use taxes. 

City of Louisville

Louisville voters re-elected incumbent Chris Leh, to serve again on the city council. The housing crisis is at the top of his list of priorities to address with a second term, as he promised on the campaign trail to raise the profile of the city’s affordable housing. Leh is also in support of transportation improvements and developing the ConocoPhillips campus.

Uncontested in her ward, Maxine Most secured her seat on Louisville’s city council this year. She’s been a resident since 2006 and wants to enact policies that enforce sustainable development, like a 30 percent open space requirement. And of course, she’s dedicated to maintaining the “small town feeling” of the city she calls home. 

Kyle Brown’s life-long dedication to public service will continue, as Louisville voters chose to re-elect the uncontested incumbent. Brown is a big believer in sustainability, and fully supported the City’s attempt to improve transportation throughout the city. But his biggest priorities with a second term on council will be to promote economic vitality and attract businesses to Louisville—to develop the city’s currently vacant properties so that they can start generating tax revenue. 

Louisville will have to wait on the transportation improvements that Ballot Issue 2A proposed. The measure would have increased property taxes to pay for $50 million in infrastructure projects installing six different underpasses, bike lanes and pedestrian paths around town. It was meant to make transportation within the city of Louisville, which is bisected by the extremely busy Highway 36, much easier and safer for residents. However, the estimated annual impact on residential property taxes could have been as high as $390, while commercial property taxes could have increased by as much as $1,581 annually. 

The people of Louisville apparently weren’t sold, and voted the measure down by a fairly significant margin. 

Boulder Valley School Board

Nicole Rajpal will take one of the three open seats on the Boulder Valley School Board, earning 76 percent of the vote as of midday November 3. 

This will be Rajpal’s first term on the board, replacing term-limited board President Tina Marquis in District B. She’s served for six years on Boulder Valley’s District Accountability Committee, including two as a chairperson. She has two middle-school-aged children in BVSD.

District B Opponent William Hamilton, a stay-at-home dad, had 23 percent of the vote, and write-in candidate Sky Van Horn, owner at Boulder’s OPEX Element 6, had less than 1 percent as of press time. 

In District E, Beth Niznik, a special education regional facilitator at the Colorado Department of Education, had a lead over two other contenders for a second seat, with slightly more than 42 percent of the vote. Deanne Bucher and Kara Awaitha Frost trail behind with approximately 40 percent and 18 percent of the vote respectively. If Niznik holds her lead, she’ll replace incumbent Donna Miers, who isn’t seeking reelection after serving a four-year term. Niznik has a child at Eisenhower Elementary. 

District F incumbent Kitty Sargent, a former teacher and social worker who specialized in child abuse prevention, ran unopposed for a second term.

During a pre-election interview with Boulder Weekly, Rajpal expressed her desire to make 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. 

St. Vrain Valley School Board

District F candidate Sarah Hurianek looks poised to take one of three open St. Vrain Valley School Board seats with just over 60 percent of the vote as of press time on Wednesday, November 3.  

Hurianek, a former pre-K educator with two children at Mead Elementary, told Boulder Weekly that she’s committed to accessibility and listening to the community, and plans to keep the district on its current track. 

Opponent Natalie Abshier trailed with nearly 40 percent of the vote. She believes that families should have a choice in wearing masks and getting vaccinated, and took issue with St. Vrain’s former partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder’s A Queer Endeavor.

Picking up a second seat is District D candidate Meosha Brooks, an aerospace engineer with four children attending St. Vrain schools. Brooks 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. 

Incumbent Karen Ragland, a community mental health counselor, will take the third SVVSD seat. She says she’s committed to being an excellent steward of taxpayer dollars while keeping the board’s focus on the students, characterizing herself as “governance-focused.”


Three statewide measures were before voters on Tuesday, and it appears all three of those will fail: Amendment 78 to give the legislature more authority over state spending; Proposition 119 to enact a new tax on marijuana to provide funding for out-of-school learning; and Proposition 120, which would have cut property tax rates.

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