*The original version of Boulder Weekly’s endorsements incorrectly stated if Boulder Ballot Question 2E passed, municipal elections would be held in even-numbered years starting in 2024. Even-year elections will actually be implemented in 2026 if the measure passes.
UNITED STATES SENATOR
Michael Bennet (Democratic)
John O’Dea (Republican)
T.J. Cole (Unity)
Brian Peotter (Libertarian)
Frank Atwood (Approval Voting)
Michael Bennet has represented Colorado in the U.S. Senate since 2009 and is seeking a third full term. Recently, he supported the Inflation Reduction Act designed to address climate change and lower prescription drug, healthcare and energy costs. Bennet is currently working on issues like the CORE Act, a land conservation and protection bill; the expanded Child Tax Credit to provide monthly payments to families with children; and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which aims to increase visas granted each year and provide workers with a pathway to citizenship.
REPRESENTATIVE TO THE 118TH UNITED STATES CONGRESS — DISTRICT 2
Joe Neguse (Democratic)
Marshall Dawson (Republican)
Gary L. Nation (American Constitution)
Tim Wolf (Unity)
Steve Yurash (Center)
With Democrats likely to take a beating nationally during this year’s midterms, it’s more important than ever to retain lawmakers like Rep. Joe Neguse in the U.S. House. Republicans may control that body after Nov. 8, but Colorado needs representatives like Boulder’s own Neguse to advocate for our local values on the federal level. His commitment to protecting public lands and combatting discriminatory practices of for-profit health insurance companies, along with his service as the only Rocky Mountain-area representative on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, are just a few reasons Boulder Weekly supports his candidacy.
Heidi Ganahl / Danny Moore (Republican)
Jared Polis / Dianne Primavera (Democratic)
Paul Noël Fiorino / Cynthia Munhos de Aquino Sirianni (Unity)
Danielle Neuschwanger / Darryl Gibbs American (Constitution)
Kevin Ruskusky / Michele Poague (Libertarian)
We’ll be the first to admit Jared Polis isn’t the mold-breaking, progressive politician we’d prefer — he’s pretty middle of the road, and he verges toward conservative concepts, like cutting income taxes. (The conservative-leaning American Legislative Exchange Council ranked him ninth among their top 10 governors in 2020.) Still, he’s way better than Heidi Ganahl, who honestly believes that teachers are putting litter boxes in school bathrooms to accommodate “furry” identities (see The Anderson Plan, p. 5). We wish that one of the third-party candidates was viable, but that’s not the case. Polis has supported family-friendly measures like all-day Kindergarten, and the Colorado Option, a program intended to drive insurance costs down next year. We say give him your vote.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Pam Anderson (Republican)
Jena Griswold (Democratic)
Gary Swing (Unity)
Jan Kok (Approval Voting)
Amanda Campbell (American Constitution)
Bennett Rutledge (Libertarian)
Colorado’s election system has been called the “gold standard” quite a bit in the news recently, and we think current Secretary of State Jena Griswold has made significant contributions toward that title by expanding ballot drop boxes and increasing in-person voting locations. Griswold faced death threats from election deniers in 2021 and stood her ground, confronting politicians she believed were misleading the public, and threatening to refer Donald Trump to the Colorado Attorney General for prosecution because of his role in encouraging voter fraud. While Republican Pam Anderson hasn’t expressed belief that the 2020 election was fraudulent, she has campaigned with Erik Aaland, a staunch election denier. Vote for Griswold.
Dave Young (Democratic)
Lang Sias (Republican)
Anthony J. Delgado (Libertarian)
Key issues for the treasury department include raising financial security, managing the state’s debt, keeping taxpayer dollars safe and achieving economic justice. Incumbent Dave Young has done a fine job reaching these goals, even through the financially turbulent COVID-19 pandemic, through programs like CLIMBER, a small-business loan effort, and SecureSavings, a retirement plan for private sector workers. Although Republicans keying in on inflation costs could make it a tight race for state treasurer, a job associated with fiscal policy and responsibility, we are endorsing Young to continue in office.
John Kellner (Republican)
Phil Weiser (Democratic)
William F. Robinson III (Libertarian)
Few elected positions wield as much power as attorney general, and few races are looking tighter than this year’s contest for the state’s “top cop.” Considering this, it’s imperative that Colorado voters retain current AG Phil Weiser. His commitment to protecting Marshall Fire victims from price gouging in the wake of the Dec. 30 disaster showed the Dean Emeritus of the University of Colorado Law School is committed to our community, and his stated willingness to go after local municipalities that may attempt to restrict abortion rights make him the best candidate for ensuring reproductive rights for Coloradans in a post-Roe world. For these reasons and more, Boulder Weekly endorses Weiser over Republican John Kellner.
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBER — AT LARGE
Kathy Plomer (Democratic)
Dan Maloit (Republican)
Ryan Van Gundy (Libertarian)
Eric Bodenstab (Unity)
With public schooling under attack across the country, Colorado needs a fierce advocate on the State Board of Education. That’s why Boulder Weekly is endorsing Kathy Plomer in this contest for the at-large seat. Her commitment to raising teacher pay in Colorado — which consistently ranks among the bottom in the nation on this critical metric — is reason enough to pull the lever for Plomer. But if you need more convincing, consider her opponent Dan Maloit’s dog-whistle language about eliminating “political or social distractions” in the classroom. Colorado needs a serious teacher and student advocate like Plomer, not a political reactionary promoting phony Critical Race Theory hysteria.
STATE SENATOR — DISTRICT 15
Rob Woodward (Republican)
Janice Marchman (Democratic)
Senate District 15 is more competitive now than it has been in recent memory, thanks to a new carving of the political map by the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission. Boulder Weekly supports Janice Marchman in this contest, due in part to the Loveland middle-school math teacher’s staunch support for public education. Additionally, a Marchman victory over incumbent Rob Woodward would help Democrats build on their majority in the state Senate.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE — DISTRICT 10
Junie Joseph (Democratic)
William B. DeOreo (Republican)
With victory over Republican William DeOreo all but guaranteed, Boulder City Councilmember Junie Joseph is expected to become the first Black woman to represent Boulder in the Colorado State House of Representatives. While the process that led to her nomination by the Boulder County Democratic Party has been a point of criticism for some local residents, the value of her history-making election is hard to overstate. In addition to bringing a new perspective to the seat, Joseph will also bring her deep knowledge of the community garnered through years of experience responding to the needs of Boulder residents on the municipal level. Boulder Weekly enthusiastically endorses her candidacy in the race for District 10.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE — DISTRICT 11
Karen McCormick (Democratic)
Tara Menza (Republican)
Karen McCormick should retain her seat as a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, representing District 11. McCormick’s record of service with the Citizens Climate Lobby and as an animal welfare advocate — having run her own veterinary clinic in the state for nearly two decades — are two examples of how the candidate embodies Boulder County values.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE — DISTRICT 12
Anya Kirvan (Republican)
Tracey Bernett (Democratic)
Over the course of her tenure in the Colorado House of Representatives, Tracey Bernett has sponsored legislation reforming the treatment of people with behavioral health problems in the justice system and promoting crisis services to students. Due in part to her commitment to Coloradans struggling with mental health issues, Boulder Weekly endorses her candidacy in the race for District 12.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE — DISTRICT 19
Dan Woog (Republican)
Jennifer Lea Parenti (Democratic)
Joe Johnson (Libertarian)
Boulder Weekly endorses Jennifer Parenti in the race for District 19, due in part to the candidate’s stated commitment to affordable housing, the environment and women’s reproductive rights. Republican incumbent Dan Woog’s alliance with the oil and gas industry make him a bad fit to represent Boulder County voters.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE — DISTRICT 49
Judy Amabile (Democratic)
Kathryn Lehr (Republican)
Daniel Lutz (Libertarian)
Over the course of her tenure in the Colorado House, Rep. Judy Amabile has proven herself a worthy advocate for constituents in Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin and Larimer Counties. Amabile’s stated three areas of focus are increasing access to mental health resources, acting swiftly on climate change and fighting for higher wages for working people to offset the astronomical cost of housing, healthcare and childcare. For these reasons and more, Boulder Weekly supports Amabile in the District 49 contest.
REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT DIRECTOR — DISTRICT I
REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT DIRECTOR — DISTRICT O
Lynn Gussinger began serving on RTD’s Board of Directors in November 2018, representing the northwest portion of the RTD area (Boulder, Superior, Louisville, Lyons, Nederland and Longmont west of Hover Road). She has helped usher in the Zero Fare for Better Air initiative that allowed riders free fare for the month of August. We support Lynn Gussinger for another term as RTD Director District O.
COUNTY COMMISSIONER — DISTRICT 3
Ashley Stolzmann (Democratic)
Bo Shaffer (Libertarian)
Since 2013, Boulder Weekly has endorsed Ashley Stolzmann as a member of Louisville’s City Council. She moved into the mayoral seat in 2019, which we also supported, because Stolzmann’s values align with our own: housing and homelessness prevention and support; decarbonization to fight climate change; and adequate transportation for residents regardless of income. We again endorse Ashley Stolzmann, this time in her run as County Commissioner for District 3.
COUNTY CLERK AND RECORDER
Molly Fitzpatrick (Democratic)
Paul Weissmann (Democratic)
Cynthia Braddock (Democratic)
Curtis Johnson (Democratic)
Lee Stadele (Democratic)
Emma R. Hall
CITY OF LONGMONT — CITYCOUNCILMEMBER AT-LARGE
Sean P. McCoy
While both Gary Hodges and Sean McCoy are capable candidates (Hodges works for NOAA and McCoy is a teacher in Louisville), Boulder Weekly is endorsing Mitzi Nicoletti in the Longmont councilmember at-large race. Nicoletti says she is running in order to support local business, help push for affordable and attainable housing for low-income and homeless members of the community, and to fight for environmental sustainability on every front. And she has excellent experience to help her accomplish all of those goals.
STATE BALLOT MEASURES
AMENDMENT D — DESIGNATE JUDGES TO 23RD JUDICIAL DISTRICT MEASURE
The text of Amendment D is convoluted — we’ll spare you from it here and just break it down:
The 18th Judicial District used to comprise Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. The population grew a lot in these counties, so the state Legislature decided to split things up in 2020. Arapahoe remained in the 18th Judicial District, while Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties moved to the newly created 23rd Judicial District.
Amendment D adjusts the language of the state constitution so the governor can designate judges to be moved from the 18th district to the 23rd district, and require the judges to relocate their residence into the new district. More housekeeping. Vote “yes.”
AMENDMENT E — HOMESTEAD
EXEMPTION TO SURVIVING SPOUSES OF U.S. ARMED FORCES MEMBERS AND VETERANS MEASURE
Currently, Colorado veterans who are permanently disabled qualify for a break on property taxes. They currently receive an exemption on 50% of the first $200,000 of a property’s actual value. Passage of Amendment E would extend that tax exemption to the surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who died in the line of duty or who died from a service-related injury or disease. The exemption would be extended to any surviving spouse who currently receives dependency indemnity compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Local governments will not lose out on revenue if this amendment passes, as the state is required to reimburse local governments for any reductions in revenue that occur due to property tax exemptions given to seniors and veterans with a disability. The price tag for Amendment E — approximately $525,000 per year starting in fiscal year 2023-24 — is very reasonable for doing the right thing for veterans. It is estimated that there are approximately 883 surviving spouses who can benefit from this amendment if it passes. Vote “yes” on Amendment E.
AMENDMENT F — CHARITABLE GAMING MEASURE
This amendment would allow charitable organizations, like churches or veterans groups, to get a bingo-raffle license after existing for only three years rather than the current five years required by the state. Passage of this amendment would also allow — not require — bingo managers to be compensated, rather than having to simply volunteer their time.
According to the Legislative Council Staff, approval of this measure is expected to increase state revenue by $18,000 in FY 2022-23 and $22,200 in FY 2023-24, assuming an additional 188 and 222 licensees ,respectively, pay the current $100 license fee. On the other hand, approving Amendment F is expected to increase state expenditures by $293,995 in FY 2022-23 and $420,109 in FY 2023-24 due to increased costs associated with implementing the new law. That’s a negative impact for state taxpayers.
While we don’t have a strong inclination toward a “yes” on Amendment F, we have no problem with a charitable organization getting a gaming license after three years instead of five, or with paying the gaming manager minimum wage for giving up their Friday night to call out numbers. As such, we endorse a “yes” on Amendment F.
PROPOSITION FF — REDUCE INCOME TAX DEDUCTION AMOUNTS TO FUND SCHOOL MEALS PROGRAM MEASURE
It’s hard to argue with the end result should Proposition FF pass, but the process it creates for funding school meals leaves a bit to be desired.
Passing FF would reduce the maximum income tax deduction for those earning $300,000 or more from $30,000 for single filers and $60,000 for joint filers to $12,000 for single filers and $16,000 for joint filers; and the money generated from this deduction change would be allocated to the creation and funding of the Healthy School Meals for All Program, which would reimburse participating schools to provide free meals to all students, and provide schools with local food purchasing grants and food-related funding. It would also increase the pay for those preparing school meals.
Under the current system for free or subsidized school meals, which is based on the parents’ income, too many kids are still left out, or the subsidized price they pay is still a burden on struggling families. This proposition would change all that. It is estimated that this change to the Colorado Revised Statutes would generate $100,727,820 annually, making it possible for every child, regardless of their parents’ economic status, to receive free meals at school. By making meals free to all, the damaging stigma associated with forcing children to reveal their economic status in front of their peers is alleviated.
There is no question that our children should have access to free meals at school. What is less clear is why only those making $300,000 or more per year should have to pay for it. We would have preferred if an exception to increasing taxes had been placed on those making less than $50,000 per year, with everyone else paying a sliding-scale share of this tax increase. Feeding kids is worth it and we should all share the cost. We also understand that such a shared approach would likely have failed at the ballot box as too many shortsighted people without children in school are loath to help pay for the educational needs of others.
Still, we support FF because the outcome is simply too important not to. So please vote “yes” on this one.
PROPOSITION GG — TABLE OF CHANGES TO INCOME TAX OWED REQUIRED FOR CITIZEN INITIATIVES
This proposition has found its way to the ballot by way of a party line vote of the state Legislature, with Democrats supporting GG and Republicans opposing it. If it passes, GG would require a table showing changes in income tax owed for average taxpayers in certain brackets to be included in the ballot title and fiscal summary for any citizen initiative that would increase or decrease the individual income tax rate.
Transparency is always a good thing in a democracy. Unfortunately, the people deciding what facts and figures represent transparency are not always so good. As we have seen many times in Colorado over the past few decades, the figures being presented to the public as nonpartisan facts are often anything but. Whoever controls the input process into the economic modeling software being used by the nonpartisan researchers, in this case the Legislative Council, ultimately controls what information passes for transparency. You may recall an earlier investigation by Boulder Weekly that found the economic modeling being provided by CU’s Leads School of Business — widely touted by elected officials of both parties as nonpartisan — was actually being controlled by a front group, largely for the benefit of the oil and gas industry.
Each of us as a voter has a responsibility to carefully examine the issues on which we vote. If we take the time, we can determine for ourselves how an issue will impact the various tax brackets without having to rely on the added chart of a “non-partisan” entity that one party has required to be added to the actual ballot. Remember, next time it may be the other party adding “transparency” to our ballot. Vote “no” on this one. The last thing we need is to turn our ballots into the next front in the propaganda wars.
PROPOSITION 121 — STATE INCOME TAX RATE REDUCTION INITIATIVE
If this proposition — born in the shadows of our state’s most conservative corridors of power (the Independence Institute and everybody’s favorite Republican state Senator Jerry Sonnenberg back it) — were to pass, it would decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40% for individuals, as well as for domestic and foreign C corporations for tax year 2022 and future years. Rich people would save a lot. Most of us would suffer mightily. About 75% of taxpayers will receive a tax cut of less than $63 a year.
Colorado is already suffering from a lack of adequate funding for important services like schools, roads and environmental concerns because of equally moronic legislation like TABOR and previous tax cuts a few years ago. If you vote for this proposition, at least avoid the hypocrisy by having the courtesy to stop using any and all state funded services. Vote “no” on Proposition 121.
PROPOSITION 122 — DECRIMINALIZATION, REGULATED DISTRIBUTION, AND THERAPY PROGRAM FOR CERTAIN HALLUCINOGENIC PLANTS AND FUNGI INITIATIVE
If Proposition 122 passes it will decriminalize, for those 21 and older, the personal use and possession of the following plants and fungi: dimethyltryptamine (DMT); ibogaine; mescaline (excluding peyote); and psilocybin.
All of the above substances are currently classified as Schedule I controlled substances under state law. In addition to decriminalization, passage of Proposition 122 would allow anyone who has completed a sentence following a conviction related to the personal use or possession of the above substances to petition the court to seal their record so the conviction no longer impacts their ability to get a job, housing, etc.
This proposition would create a natural medicine services program for the supervised administration of such substances, which have been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of depression, PTSD and other ailments. It would also create a process for regulating the growth, distribution, and sale of these hallucinogens to permitted entities that provide supervised administration of the substances, as well as creating a Natural Medicine Advisory Board to come up with rules in order to implement a regulated access program.
Other states have gone down this path with no ill effects. Having taxpayers spend $50,000 a year to imprison someone as a punishment for the personal use of drugs is a ridiculous and destructive idea that has long outlived its misguided usage. We now know that therapies using these natural substances are proving effective, even though more research is in order. All things considered, we think a “yes” vote is in order.
PROPOSITION 123 — DEDICATE STATE INCOME TAX REVENUE TO FUND HOUSING PROJECTS INITIATIVE
As always, the devil is in the details when it comes to potential affordable housing solutions. If properly executed, the passage of Proposition 123 could be a gamechanger for our state.
If passed, this initiative will create the State Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) and dedicate 0.1% of state income tax revenue to fund affordable housing programs and projects. Under the initiative, rentals would be available to households with an annual income at or below 60% of the area median income, and for-sale housing could be purchased by a household with an annual income at or below 100% of the area median income.
Funds in SAHF would be allocated to two funds: 60% to the Affordable Housing Financing Fund and 40% to the Affordable Housing Support Fund.
Funds would be used to: provide grants to local governments and loans to nonprofit organizations to acquire and maintain land for the development of affordable housing; create an affordable housing equity program to make equity investments in multi-family rental units to ensure that rent is no more than 30% of a household’s income; create a concessionary debt program to provide debt financing for low- and middle-income multi-family rental developments and existing affordable housing projects; create an affordable home ownership program providing down-payment assistance for homebuyers meeting certain income requirements; create a grant program for local governments to increase capacity to process land use, permitting and zoning applications for housing projects; and create a program to provide rental assistance, housing vouchers and other case management for persons experiencing homelessness.
TABOR supporters oppose this proposition (shocker), noting that TABOR refund checks will be smaller if it passes. Of course, this is true. But what TABOR enthusiasts don’t seem to notice is that TABOR refund checks don’t make even a tiny dent in the cost of housing for working families in Colorado.
While it won’t be a cure-all by any means, and it has the potential to be too little to significantly impact this massive problem, it’s better than not trying. Vote “yes” on Proposition 123. It’s a start.
PROPOSITION 124: INCREASE ALLOWABLE LIQUOR STORE LOCATIONS
Prop 124 would allow retail liquor stores to apply to open for the same number of locations as liquor-licensed drugstores (grocery stores with a pharmacy that sell beer, wine and spirits), which is to say an unlimited number by 2037. But small liquor stores — those without the capacity, or desire, to expand — would be at a disadvantage. We support a “no” vote on Prop 124.
PROPOSITION 125: ALLOW GROCERY AND CONVENIENCE STORES TO SELL WINE
As with Prop 124, Proposition 125 would hurt small liquor stores. According to the state ballot info book, the automatic license conversion would more than double the number of stores where wine can be sold. We love convenience as much as the next person, but with independent businesses already struggling under the weight of inflation and continued supply chain obstacles, we endorse a “no” vote on Prop 125.
COLORADO PROPOSITION 126: THIRD-PARTY DELIVERY OF ALCOHOL BEVERAGES
This proposition would allow two things: 1) third-party companies (think UberEats and DoorDash) could deliver alcohol from grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, bars, restaurants and other liquor-licensed businesses; 2) permanently allow takeout and delivery of alcohol from bars and restaurants (currently set to repeal in 2025). It sounds convenient, but giving national companies like UberEats and DoorDash more stake in the local food landscape doesn’t sound great (those third-party companies charge so much, and it can be hard to get justice when your order turns up wrong). It’s a bummer this is bundled with permanent delivery and takeout of alcohol from bars and restaurants. Because we believe this will help restaurants in a time when they are still recovering from the pandemic, we give a half-hearted “yes” endorsement for Prop 126.
COUNTY BALLOT MEASURES
BOULDER COUNTY ISSUE 1A: WILDFIRE MITIGATION SALES AND USE TAX AND REVENUE CHANGE
This measure proposes a new county-wide sales tax of 0.1% (1 cent per $10 purchase) to fund proactive efforts to mitigate wildfires in the mountains and plains.
The December 2021 Marshall Fire destroyed close to 1,000 homes in a matter of hours, and it now ranks as the most destructive and costliest wildfire in Colorado history. Proceeds from this sales tax will be used to reduce catastrophic impacts of fires by better managing forests and grasslands to improve resiliency, and to help county residents make their homes and neighborhoods more fire resistant. Additionally, the funds will help the county secure matching funds from state and federal sources, amplifying its impact.
Tax-funded projects that reduce risks of catastrophic wildfire in the mountains and plains, build resilience in forest and grassland ecosystems, and protect drinking water supplies would be identified and managed by Boulder County Fireshed Partnership — a coalition of federal, state and local governments, and nonprofits that support collaboration, coordination and large-scale wildfire prevention planning.
Some funding will be used to extend Boulder County’s existing program, Wildfire Partners, to more east county residents. Wildfire Partners can provide technical and financial assistance to homeowners looking to harden their homes and create defensible spaces around them.
While we understand the county’s ongoing fire recovery efforts also merit more financial support, we agree with the 75% of community members polled in the Boulder County 2022 Public Opinion Survey that support this measure and recognize the need for and value of preventative action; the poll determined “need more wildfire mitigation” as the second-most important issue among county residents (the first-most: “lack of affordable housing”). Vote “yes” to listening and attending to our community’s needs.
BOULDER COUNTY ISSUE 1B: EMERGENCY SERVICES SALES AND USE TAX AND REVENUE CHANGE
This measure proposes a new county-wide sales tax of 0.1% (1 cent per $10 purchase) to help fund various critical emergency services in unincorporated Boulder County, giving volunteer responders the opportunity to secure new training facilities and equipment in addition to more consistent financial support for rural fire districts throughout the year; in 2027 the tax increase would decline to 0.05% (0.5 cents per $10 purchase).
From volunteer-run rural fire districts and search and rescue operations, to contracted ambulance and wildland firefighting staffs that service unincorporated Boulder County, emergency response teams make adventuring and housing in Boulder County’s wildland-urban interface possible. Proceeds from this tax would support emergency services to the rural areas that many county-dwellers and tourists use for recreation, which are not covered by municipal emergency response providers.
Sheriff Joe Pelle reported to County Commissioners that the agencies providing these critical emergency responses are in serious need of support — particularly the volunteer Rocky Mountain Rescue Group (RMRG). Each year, RMRG responds to more than 200 search and rescue calls in the mountains of Boulder County, and demand for its services is growing as costs of equipment rise. Pelle said the agency’s 1960s-built facility can no longer house all its vehicles and equipment. He also reports costs for American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance service, which is contracted to serve unincorporated parts of the county, are rising: He reported it could cost the county $600,000 for AMR service next year.
The inclusion of ambulance services in this measure raises concerns over its high price tag and potential for consuming a large portion of the collected funds, but ambulance services in general are expensive, and the money has to come from somewhere. As it stands, Pelle explained the AMR services come from the general fund and using this funding source could relieve pressures on the general fund to help with other necessities. Another concern is that this sales tax would introduce an additional financial commitment for residents who live in mountain community fire protection districts and already pay separate taxes for many of these emergency services, but as the tax increase reduces by half after five years, we encourage residents in these gateway communities to join other county residents in responding to rising costs and demands upon emergency responders. Vote “yes.”
BOULDER COUNTY ISSUE 1C: TRANSPORTATION SALES AND USE TAX EXTENSION AND REVENUE CHANGE
If passed, this ballot issue would extend, without increase, the current .01% sales tax (1 cent per $10 purchase) that funds countywide multimodal transportation needs, which include safety, accessibility and connectivity improvements to roads, transit systems, regional trails and commuter bikeways. This transportation sales tax was first passed in 2001, then extended in 2007, and is currently set to expire in 2024.
Boulder County commissioners unanimously agreed to ask voters to extend this existing sales tax, and no organized opposition to the ballot issue exists. Approximated expected annual revenue from the tax is $11 million, according to the League of Women Voters of Boulder County, and funds are used in accordance with the county’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP). If approved, the tax would become permanent and would have to be repealed for it to end, a change that concerns some residents but not many; this tax has received widespread support throughout its two-decades of implementation.
This funding is also critical to securing matching funding. In the past 15 years, the county has leveraged the $121 million it raised from this tax to secure an additional $269 million in regional, state and federal funding, for a total of $390 million. With forthcoming projects that focus on transit services and commuter bikeways, this measure also supports the county’s climate action goals.
Improved regional mobility is critical to retaining and attracting a strong workforce for Boulder businesses, and the Boulder Chamber of Commerce asserts the county’s transportation needs far exceed the revenue generated from extending the 0.1% tax, and urges the Commissioners to identify additional mobility investment resources. Boulder Weekly endorses a “yes” vote on County Issue 1C.
LOCAL BALLOT MEASURES
CITY OF BOULDER BALLOT ISSUE 2A: CLIMATE TAX (TABOR)
The passage of this ordinance would create a new Climate Action Plan (CAP) Tax, raising millions each year to support climate resiliency projects and help Boulder adapt to extreme weather events like the Marshall Fire. The measure would replace two existing climate taxes set to expire (the Climate Action Plan Excise Tax in 2023 and the Utility Occupation Tax in 2025) with an expanded tax on electricity consumption across residential, commercial and industrial sectors.
Boulder residents can expect a 16% increase on their Xcel Energy electric and natural gas bill ($49.66 a year) with a larger tax burden falling on local businesses and industries, who would see an average 67% uptick. But with drier and hotter conditions leading to an essentially year-round fire season, there’s no price too great to protect lives and property from future disasters.
Lasting through 2040, the expanded climate tax would provide cash assistance to homeowners, businesses and landlords to support energy efficiency projects. It would also mean more electric vehicle charging stations, residential wildfire risk assessment, microgrid investment and more.
Passing 2A is not the solution to the climate crisis, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle. Boulder Weekly supports the passage of this essential measure on Nov. 8.
CITY OF BOULDER BALLOT ISSUE 2B: APPROVING ISSUANCE OF BONDS TO BE PAID FROM CLIMATE TAX (TABOR)
This measure would approve the issuance of bonds to be paid from the above climate tax, if approved, by increasing debt for the City of Boulder up to $52.9 million, with a maximum repayment cost capped at $75 million. Boulder Weekly supports its passage.
CITY OF BOULDER BALLOT QUESTION 2C: REPEAL OF LIBRARY COMMISSION AND TAX IF LIBRARY DISTRICT CREATED
In the event that voters approve the formation of a library district, the passage of this measure would amend and repeal sections of the Boulder Home Rule Charter establishing a library commission and tax. In supporting the formation of the special tax district for public libraries, Boulder Weekly also supports these necessary changes to execute the transition away from municipal control.
CITY OF BOULDER BALLOT QUESTION 2D: CHARTER CLARIFICATION OF CANDIDATE ISSUES
This ordinance would amend Sections 5 and 9 of the Boulder Home Rule Charter, making it so candidates may only seek one office during a given election. The measure would also allow council members whose terms do not end at the election to run for mayor without resigning their seat (unless they win) and empower them to fill the seat for the remainder of their vacated term. It would also change the swearing-in date of newly elected officials to the council’s first December meeting.
Asking a candidate to choose from the outset which office they will seek makes it clear to the public where a vacancy is. This measure will help when Boulder begins to directly elect the mayor next year.
Boulder Weekly supports a “yes” vote on 2D.
CITY OF BOULDER BALLOT QUESTION 2E: CHANGE REGULAR MUNICIPAL ELECTION TO EVEN YEARS
Passing this Charter Amendment would change regular municipal elections to even-numbered years starting in 2026. Doing so would put these consequential local contests on the same ballot as state and federal elections, which traditionally see much higher voter turnout — especially among young and low-income voters.
Less than half of active registered voters participated in the municipal 2021 election. In some University Hill precincts, those numbers dipped into the single digits, according to analysis from the Boulder Reporting Lab. However, voters in those same precincts turned out at rates above 70% during the 2020 presidential contest. The stark discrepancy begs the question of how measures like last year’s initiative to increase occupancy limits, which lost by fewer than five percentage points, would have fared with similarly robust turnout from the student-heavy district.
Our calculus for supporting this measure is quite simple: More people voting in local elections is a good thing, and the city should do everything in its power to make our democracy as robust and inclusive as possible. It’s especially crucial that students and low-income residents, both of whom are disproportionately underrepresented in odd-year elections, be involved in the decision-making process on the municipal level. For these reasons, Boulder Weekly enthusiastically endorses this measure.
CITY OF BOULDER BALLOT QUESTION 2F: REPEAL OF ORDINANCE 8483, REGARDING THE ANNEXATION OF CU SOUTH
No other ballot measure strikes at the heart of Boulder’s most deeply rooted conflicts surrounding land use, housing and the environment like the annexation of CU South. Since the university first bought the 308-acre parcel of land in South Boulder more than 25 years ago, the project — which would bring more than 1,000 additional units of faculty and graduate student housing, along with 80 acres for critical flood mitigation infrastructure — has been mired in controversy.
If approved, Ballot Question 2F would repeal the agreement between the city and university. Supporters of the measure say CU South annexation is a bad deal that does little to solve the housing crisis, assuage environmental concerns or provide adequate flood safety, while reducing the amount of de facto open space currently enjoyed by local residents and wildlife.
Boulder Weekly opposes the repeal of the CU South annexation. The current agreement, which adds 119 acres of permanent open space, is our best chance to secure desperately needed flood mitigation for South Boulder Creek while honoring the existing deal between the city and university. Supporters of Ballot Question 2F say the area needs 500-year flood mitigation instead of the 100-year project outlined in the agreement — but without annexation, there is no flood mitigation at all, leaving more than 2,000 residents vulnerable to disasters like those that devastated our community in 1969 and 2013.
Whether the deal between CU and the City of Boulder represents the best possible agreement is beside the point. This area needs flood protection sooner rather than later, and the city’s housing crisis is growing more dire by the season. Kicking the ball further down the field by repealing the agreement, potentially stringing the ongoing debate into its third decade, would drag out a process that has already gone on for too long.
CITY OF LONGMONT BALLOT QUESTION 3A: CHARTER AMENDMENT FOR MODERNIZATION OF CONDUCT OF CITY BUSINESS
Consider Ballot Question 3A to be a matter of simple housekeeping. The proposed amendments to Longmont’s Home Rule Charter are designed to help to decrease confusion during elections; reduce the expenditure of staff time in routing documents for signature; streamline Longmont’s process for entering into intergovernmental agreements; and assist with recruitment of the City’s pension board members. In addition, the term “councilman” has been modernized to “councilmember.” The changes are minor and do not appear to open the door for any unforeseen problems going forward. A “yes” vote is in order here.
CITY OF LONGMONT BALLOT QUESTION 3B: CHARTER AMENDMENT TO PROSPECTIVELY VACATE OFFICE
Democracy can be a little messy and expensive sometimes, but trying to streamline the process can be fraught with its own problems, and that seems to be the case with Longmont’s Ballot Question 3B. The intent appears to be an effort to save taxpayers the expense of having to fund special elections to fill the vacated seats of City Council members who decide to run for mayor or other offices. The Charter Amendment states that “amending the City’s Charter would create an option for sitting members of City Council to prospectively vacate their office, which would allow that vacancy to be filled in the same election in which the sitting member of City Council is running for another elected office and avoid the need for a subsequent election.”
But here’s the problem: The sitting city council member who decides to run for another office doesn’t have to announce their intention to do so until a mere 90 days before the upcoming election. That means any potential candidates who may want to run for the council seat being vacated will only have three months in total to decide to run, create an organization, find funding and get the word out that they are going to be on the ballot.
Such a compressed timeframe will clearly favor candidates with plenty of their own money and already existing name recognition. And that is both unfair and detrimental to local democracy. If 3B passes, it will likely create a pathway for former council members to use their name recognition and to fast track their way back into office, and that doesn’t serve the public’s interest.
Special elections do cost money, but it’s a small price to pay to guarantee a robust democratic process at the local level. Vote “no” on 3B.
CITY OF LONGMONT BALLOT QUESTION 3C: REVENUE BONDS TO FUND RESILIENT ST. VRAIN PROJECT IMPROVEMENTS
Ballot Question 3C would allow $20 million in revenue bonds to be issued for funding St. Vrain Project Improvements in Longmont. If issued, the bonds will finance storm drainage system improvements from Sunset Street to Hover Street in order to protect downstream areas from future flooding. With climate change altering our weather patterns here in Colorado, and after what we all experienced during the flood of 2013, it’s a good idea to improve any part of our flood prevention system now as opposed to waiting until after another event, which will, no doubt, come. Vote “yes” on 3C.
BOULDER VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT RE-2 BALLOT ISSUE 5A
It’s no secret that public schools in Colorado are underfunded. This measure would create a $350 million bond for upgrades and improvements to several BVSD schools.
The money would come from a property tax increase that would equal about $118 a year for a $600,000 home. The bond funding would include a new $27.7 million building for New Vista High School, a new $31.5 million school to relieve overcrowding at Erie’s Meadowlark School and about $36 million to support expanded career and technical programs at middle and high schools. About $123 million is earmarked to replace roofs and boilers. Another $5 million would go to accessibility playground improvements, while $6.5 million would cover removal of asbestos materials.
We know this isn’t the only tax increase you’re being asked to shoulder on this ballot, but public education is what our tax dollars should be spent on. We endorse a “yes” on BVSD RE-2 Ballot Issue 5A.
COUNTY ELECTORS PETITION ISSUE 6C: PROPOSED BOULDER PUBLIC LIBRARY DISTRICT (LIBRARY DISTRICT FORMATION AND MILL LEVY TAX AND REVENUE CHANGE)
This measure proposes the creation of a library district, which would change how Boulder Public Library (BPL) is funded. If this measure passes, the library district would collect taxes from property owners in the city of Boulder through the imposition of a 3.5 mill levy starting in 2023 and would use these funds for BPL facilities and services. This equates to an annual increase of 4% or $23 per $100,000 of a residential property’s value and $92 per $100,000 of a commercial property’s value. If passed, the library district will include Boulder city limits and some parts of unincorporated Boulder County.
Everyone in the county has free access to BPL facilities and services. Currently, BPL is funded by three sources: the City of Boulder’s general fund (84%); a 0.333 mill property tax already dedicated to the library (12%); and library department revenues, including grants (4%). According to BPL, this funding model can no longer sustain its service levels, especially after major pandemic-related cuts. Community use of the library has also increased steadily over the last decade, with many requests for expanded services, all of which necessitate more sustainable funding.
Library districts are the most common form of governance for public libraries in Colorado. (There are 56 district libraries in the state, including Colorado Springs, Greely and Fort Collins). Boulder’s library district would be governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Boulder City Council and the Board of County Commissioners. The fact that the board is appointed rather than elected challenges our democratic values at Boulder Weekly, but we also understand a single-purpose leadership focused on a singular goal can enhance taxpayer accountability, and projects could be developed more efficiently without the need to seek approval from a city council busy with many other projects. If passed, voters would have to approve any new or increased taxes relevant to library funding, and the sales tax from the general fund once used for BPL would be redistributed to other city needs.
We understand the 3.5 mills property tax increase couldn’t come at a worse time — with other critical tax proposals on the ballot and businesses facing reduced patronage, higher costs for labor and materials, and reduced customer traffic resulting from the pandemic. Such a large increase in property taxes will adversely impact small businesses, those on fixed incomes, and low- and moderate-income households. Renters in Boulder would also see costs passed down from landlords.
But the tax revenue would go to restoring and improving services that benefit these and other populations, which significantly elevate Boulder County as a whole. The funds would be used for much-needed literacy programs, additional free public spaces for community meetings, workshops and programs. It would also support updated and improved collections of books and materials, including bilingual materials and downloading of e-books, movies, and music. Additional benefits include extended hours at all existing libraries and a new branch library in Gunbarrel; final construction needs and staff for the new North Boulder Branch Library; expanded access to steam programs, makerspaces, and free internet for young people, underserved communities and seniors; and improved maintenance, cleanliness, safety and security at all library facilities.
The creation of the library district would keep a really good thing going with more strength and stamina, and less stress on the City. Vote “yes.”