Elections this year in Boulder, Colorado and across the nation are incredibly important. We say that every year. But this year we have candidates and issues who we need to protect democracy and strengthen our communities. I hope you enjoy reading my guide and voting this November.
For more than five years, I’ve written a voter guide for every election in Boulder. I want to start with a thank you to local journalists Shay Castle (Boulder Beat), news and opinion writers at the Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder Reporting Lab, and the Boulder Weekly. Without their dedication and terrific reporting, guides like this wouldn’t be possible. I’ve also linked to great reporting from The Denver Post, Colorado Sun, Colorado Newsline, Colorado Chalkbeat and other outlets. Consider subscribing!
You can subscribe to Shay Castle’s Patreon to get weekly local news, or you can subscribe to the Boulder Daily Camera and Boulder Weekly which support a number of local journalists and editorials.
November 8th, 2022 General Election in Boulder, Colorado
- Federal Offices
- United States Senator – Michael Bennet (D)
- Representative to the 118th United States Congress – District 2 – Joe Neguse (D)
- State Offices
- Governor/Lieutenant Governor – Jared Polis (D)
- Secretary of State – Jena Griswold (D)
- State Treasurer – Dave Young (D)
- Attorney General – Phil Weiser (D)
- State Board of Education Member — At Large – Kathy Plomer (D)
- State Representative – District 10 – Junie Joseph (D)
- State Representative – District 49 – Judy Amabile (D)
- Regional Transportation District Director – District O – Lynn Guissinger (D)
- County Offices
- County Commissioner – District 3 – Ashley Stolzmann (D)
- County Clerk and Recorder – Molly Fitzpatrick (D)
- County Treasurer – Paul Weissmann (D)
- County Assessor – Cynthia Braddock (D)
- County Surveyor – Lee Stadele (D)
- County Coroner – Emma R. Hall (D)
- Judicial Retention Questions
- State Ballot Measures
- Amendment D – YES / FOR
- Amendment E – YES / FOR
- Amendment F – YES / FOR
- Proposition FF – YES / FOR
- Proposition GG – YES / FOR
- Proposition 121 – NO/AGAINST
- Proposition 122 – YES / FOR
- Proposition 123 – YES / FOR
- Proposition 124 – NO/AGAINST
- Proposition 125 – YES / FOR
- Proposition 126 – YES / FOR
- County Ballot Measures
- Boulder County Ballot Issue 1A – YES / FOR
- Boulder County Ballot Issue 1B – YES / FOR
- Boulder County Ballot Issue 1C – YES / FOR
- Local Ballot Measures
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2A / 2B – YES / FOR
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2C – YES / FOR
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2D – YES / FOR
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2E – YES / FOR
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2F – NO/AGAINST
- Boulder Valley School District RE-2 Ballot Issue 5A – YES / FOR
- Boulder Public Library District Ballot Issue 6C – YES / FOR
United States Senator – Michael Bennet (Democratic)
I am voting for Michael Bennet. Senator Bennet has been a strong supporter of key parts of the Democratic platform like environmental protections, the child tax credit, and immigration reform. Without him and a Democratic advantage in the Senate, many of President Biden’s major accomplishments wouldn’t be possible.
While I often want to see Senator Bennet take more progressive positions, he is and will continue to be an important part to keep and expand Democratic majority in the Senate.
Michael Bennet hopes to become Colorado’s longest-serving senator in decades. Who is he? – CPR News
Representative to the 118th United States Congress – District 2 – Joe Neguse (Democratic)
I am voting for Joe Neguse. Congressman Neguse has been an outstanding champion for Boulder County and Congressional District 2. I’ve appreciated both his leadership and accessibility in the community. I have included some links below to highlight some of the important work and community engagement he’s been doing in the district.
Colorado 2nd Congressional District: Rep. Joe Neguse, Marshall Dawson – CPR News
Joe Neguse Didn’t Come to Congress to Fight Wildfires. Climate Change Had Other Plans – Time
Rep. Joe Neguse talks firefighter pay, federal funding during Summit County visit – Summit Daily
From brush clearing to thorny issues, Rep. Joe Neguse tries a new twist on the town hall – CPR News
Governor/Lieutenant Governor – Jared Polis / Dianne Primavera (Democratic)
I am voting for Jared Polis / Dianne Primavera. In general, I think the Polis administration and legislature has some great accomplishments — funding transportation in the state, reforming policing, passing the reproductive health equity act, universal preschool, and helping Colorado families and businesses through the pandemic. There are likely many more accomplishments I could list.
Polis’ Republican opponent simply has policy priorities that I don’t agree with, and in my opinion an incoherent campaign not worthy of consideration.
I’ll take the opportunity to say that in a second term, and hopefully with support of the legislature, I’d like to see even more progress on key issues for the state. The top on my list are more funding for housing and statewide zoning reforms, improving decarbonizing and improve public transportation, strengthen and codify abortion protections, further protections for LGBTQ rights and overturning Colorado’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.
Gov. Jared Polis wants a second term as Colorado’s governor: What you need to know – CPR News
School Officials to GOP Candidate: Stop Spreading Bogus Claim Students ‘Identify as Cats’ – The Daily Beast
How the conservative parents’ rights movement — fueled by LGBTQ backlash — is shaping Heidi Ganahl’s campaign – CPR News
Heidi Ganahl pressed on election denial, tax cut plan during governor’s forum – Denver Post
Guest Opinion: Jared Polis: The secret is out, Colorado is an amazing place to live – Daily Camera
Guest opinion: Heidi Ganahl: Let’s make Colorado affordable and safe again – Daily Camera
Secretary of State – Jena Griswold (Democratic)
I am voting for Jena Griswold. Secretary Griswold has been a progressive leader in the Secretary of State at a time when our democratic system has been under the most attack. Some criticism of Jena has been that she is too political — yet upholding our democracy itself has in fact become political.
Republicans have attacked voting itself and access to the ballot across the country. Here in Colorado, we’re trying to make it easier and simpler for everyone to vote. While it seems that Secretary Griswold’s opponent is well-qualified and potentially worthy of the job, the Republican Party is not. I’m very proud to support Jena Griswold for re-election.
Colorado Secretary of State: Democrat Jena Griswold – CPR News
Erroneous mailers and political tone sticking points in secretary of state debate – CPR News
One Colorado Race Will Be About Voters’ Faith in Elections. It’s Not Looking Good. -Politico
Guest opinion: Jena Griswold: Let’s make Colorado number one for voter turnout – Daily Camera
Guest opinion: Pam Anderson: Non-partisan professionalism can restore trust in our elections – Daily Camera
State Treasurer – Dave Young (Democratic)
I am voting for Dave Young. Treasurer Young has done a solid job during the pandemic and greatly aligns with my values. A few helpful examples from this Durango Herald article:
“Young… said he’d like to see Colorado’s tax policy changed because he feels TABOR has hampered the state’s ability to fund schools, health care and infrastructure.”
“This year, Democrats in the legislature, with the backing of Young and Gov. Jared Polis, temporarily changed the state’s TABOR refund mechanism to make it a flat rate instead of tying it to income and giving the biggest refunds to the highest earners. Individual filers got a $750 refund while joint filers received a $1,500 refund.”
“I think the move to a flat system was actually more beneficial to a larger number of people here in the state of Colorado,” Young said.
About Treasurer Dave Young – CO Department of Treasury
Colorado State Treasurer: Dave Young, Lang Sias – CPR News
Here’s where Colorado treasurer candidates Dave Young and Lang Sias stand on the issues – Colorado Sun
Attorney General – Phil Weiser (Democratic)
I am voting for Phil Weiser. Attorney General Weiser has fought to protect consumer privacy, police reform, and is committed to protecting abortion access and defending gun safety laws. I strongly support his re-election.
Crime a top issue in the 2022 attorney general’s race – Denver Post
Endorsement: We need Phil Weiser to protect pregnant women and Colorado doctors
ENDORSEMENT: Weiser makes a winning case for his 2nd term; Kellner raises objections for the wrong job – Aurora Sentinel
Colorado’s new Attorney General, Phil Weiser ’94, seeks to innovate – NYU Law
State Board of Education Member — At Large – Kathy Plomer (Democratic)
I am voting for Kathy Plomer. Colorado’s statewide school board is largely responsible for setting education policy, which has recently included some disturbing developments. From Colorado Chalkbeat, “A Republican State Board of Education member who believes socialism poses grave dangers at home and abroad has put his stamp on how Colorado students will learn about the Holocaust.”
From another Colorado Chalkbeat article earlier in the year: “On the State Board of Education, Democrats say they have a track record of positive change and will focus on student needs rather than ideology. Republicans say they’ll center parents’ rights and school choice, focus on core academic skills, and block efforts to promote a more inclusive approach to teaching race, gender, and sexuality.”
Locally, the Boulder Valley School District Board of Education worked closely with advocates from Out Boulder and the Boulder LGBTQ community on a recent resolution codifying their commitment to LGBTQ and BIPOC representation in curriculum: “The BVSD Board of Education reaffirms its commitment to policies that support and represent the diverse people and families in our communities and opposes any action by the Colorado State Board of Education to remove or limit the representation of LGBTQ and BIPOC people from the social studies curriculum and standards.”
State school board is incredibly important for our school curricula and we need more socially liberal representation. Please vote for Kathy Plomer.
Colorado State Board of Education At-large candidate Q&A – Denver Post
Colorado State Board of Education: Who’s running and why it has two new seats – CPR News
ENDORSEMENT: Voters must pay heed to state school board races sneaking extremism into the classroom — elect McClellan, Plomer – Aurora Sentinel
State Representative – District 10 – Junie Joseph (Democratic)
I am voting for Junie Joseph. I first met Junie Joseph when she moved to town in 2018. I was amazed and impressed when she wanted to run for city council the next year. We had just launched Boulder Progressives and were proud to support her candidacy. On the city council, Joseph has aligned members who are pro-housing and making Boulder welcoming to all people.
I look forward to having Rep Joseph represent the same values in the state legislature.
Full disclosure: I was a member of the HD10 Democratic vacancy committee who participated in the process to select our next state rep.
Colorado House of Representatives District 10 – Ballotpedia
Colorado State House District 10 candidate Q&A – Denver Post
Junie Joseph For House District 10
Junie Joseph’s 2022 priorities on Boulder City Council – Boulder Beat
[Bill DeOreo] – House District 10 candidate sues Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s Office – Daily Camera
Eric Budd: Election: MAGA Republicans attack democracy in Boulder – Daily Camera
State Representative – District 49 – Judy Amabile (Democratic)
I am voting for Judy Amabile. Representative Amabile previously House District 13 before the 2021 redistricting. If you thought there couldn’t be a clearer race than HD 10 Junie vs. Bill, here is an easier one. Rep Amabile has been a fantastic leader in Boulder.
A few of Rep Amabile’s accomplishments and work: strengthening our mental health infrastructure and access to mental health services, new laws to address gun violence, and protecting people who are affected by wildfires, among other accomplishments. I strongly support Judy Amabile to continue representing Boulder in the state legislature.
Colorado House of Representatives District 49 – Ballotpedia
Judy Amabile For House District 49
Colorado State House District 49 candidate Q&A – Denver Post
Regional Transportation District Director – District O – Lynn Guissinger
I am voting for Lynn Guissinger. Director Guissinger has done a great job representing Boulder in the Regional Transportation District during a really difficult period in the pandemic. Amid service cuts, difficulty hiring drivers, and shifting commute patterns with remote work, RTD is certainly experiencing a lot of change. She has my strong support.
RTD Board of Directors elections 2022, District O: Lynn Guissinger, Richard O’Keefe – CPR News
RTD Director District O candidate Q&A – Denver Post
County Commissioner – District 3 – Ashley Stolzmann (Democratic)
I am voting for Ashley Stolzmann. The current mayor of Louisville Colorado will help bring a progressive voice to the Boulder County Commissioners. I appreciated this interview that Ashley gave during the Democratic Primary in June to Boulder Beat:
“Housing, homelessness, transportation, gun violence prevention — these issues are not city-by-city issues.” The recent gun control push, “working together made it much easier.” Anything housing and human services, “the county has the funding, they have the resources” as the state arm of that locally. “The commissioners could do a better job communicating what we’re doing and what we’re spending money on.”
Boulder County Commissioner District 3: Ashley Stolzmann
County Clerk and Recorder – Molly Fitzpatrick (Democratic)
I am voting for Molly Fitzpatrick, who is running unopposed.
County Treasurer – Paul Weissmann (Democratic)
I am voting for Paul Weissmann, who is running unopposed.
County Assessor – Cynthia Braddock (Democratic)
I am voting for Cynthia Braddock, who is running unopposed.
County Surveyor – Lee Stadele (Democratic)
I am voting for Lee Stadele, who is running unopposed.
County Coroner – Emma R. Hall (Democratic)
I am voting for Emma R. Hall, who is running unopposed.
Judicial Retention Questions
Here’s a link to the Colorado Judicial Performance Evaluations. Overall I find the process of researching judges frustrating because the available resources lack the needed information to make decisions on retention. Please send me any additional resources or thoughts you have to @ericmbudd on Twitter.
State Ballot Measures
Amendment D (CONSTITUTIONAL) – YES / FOR
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning judges of the newly created twenty-third judicial district, and, in connection therewith, directing the governor to designate judges from the eighteenth judicial district to serve the remainder of their terms in the twenty-third judicial district and requiring a judge so designated to establish residency within the twenty-third judicial district?
YES / FOR. Amendment D is a housekeeping measure to allow for the transition of judges from the eighteenth judicial district to the twenty-third judicial district. The measure is not related to redistricting completed in 2021, but rather to a one-time creation of a new district.
Colorado Amendment D, Designate Judges to Twenty-Third Judicial District Measure (2022) – Ballotpedia
Colorado Blue Book – Amendment D – State of Colorado
Amendment D: Colorado’s governor would be empowered to reassign judges to newly created judicial district – Colorado Sun
Amendment E (CONSTITUTIONAL) – YES / FOR
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the extension of the property tax exemption for qualifying seniors and disabled veterans to the surviving spouse of a United States armed forces service member who died in the line of duty or veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease?
YES / FOR. Colorado has an existing property tax exemption program implemented by the state legislature and administered by the counties. Per the Boulder County Clerk’s page, “For those who qualify, 50 percent of the first $200,000 in actual value of their primary residence is exempted, for a maximum exemption amount of $100,000 in actual value. The State of Colorado pays the property taxes on the exempted value.”
While the details and amounts of the program are determined by state law and can be altered by the legislature, the determination of who may qualify for such exemptions is in the Colorado constitution, which is why this measure requires a constitutional change. Colorado requires a 55 percent supermajority to approve a constitutional amendment.
While property tax exemptions do have the possibility to create bad incentives, concentrate wealth, and underfund state governments (witness Prop 13 in California), the policy here would serve to protect families whose death was related to service to our country. I think this exemption makes sense and I am voting yes.
Colorado Amendment E, Homestead Exemption to Surviving Spouses of U.S. Armed Forces Members and Veterans Measure (2022)
Colorado Blue Book – Amendment E – State of Colorado
Amendment E: Extend homestead exemption to Gold Star spouses, explained – CPR News
Amendment E: Colorado’s homestead property tax exemption would be extended to Gold Star spouses – Colorado Sun
Amendment F (CONSTITUTIONAL) – YES / FOR
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the conduct of charitable gaming activities, and, in connection therewith, allowing managers and operators to be paid and repealing the required period of a charitable organization’s continuous existence before obtaining a charitable gaming license?
YES / FOR. Amendment F is very similar to a measure on Colorado’s 2020 ballot, Amendment C. Here is my take on that measure, which still holds:
The amendment will loosen some regulations on charitable fundraisers. Most of the specific changes would reduce the time requirement from five years to three years, and set up requirements for paid staff. Overall this is a small change at the state level but would have a more significant economic impact for local communities using the updated regulations.
Colorado Amendment F, Charitable Gaming Measure (2022) – Ballotpedia
Colorado Blue Book – Amendment F – State of Colorado
Amendment F: Should Colorado update a law written in 1958 governing charitable bingo and raffles? – Colorado Sun
Amendment F: Changes to charitable gaming operations, explained – CPR News
Proposition FF (STATUTORY) – YES / FOR
SHALL STATE TAXES BE INCREASED $100,727,820 ANNUALLY BY A CHANGE TO THE COLORADO REVISED STATUTES THAT, TO SUPPORT HEALTHY MEALS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS, INCREASES STATE TAXABLE INCOME ONLY FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE FEDERAL TAXABLE INCOME OF $300,000 OR MORE BY LIMITING ITEMIZED OR STANDARD STATE INCOME TAX DEDUCTIONS TO $12,000 FOR SINGLE TAX RETURN FILERS AND $16,000 FOR JOINT TAX RETURN FILERS, AND, IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, CREATING THE HEALTHY SCHOOL MEALS FOR ALL PROGRAM TO PROVIDE FREE SCHOOL MEALS TO STUDENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS; PROVIDING GRANTS FOR PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS TO PURCHASE COLORADO GROWN, RAISED, OR PROCESSED PRODUCTS, TO INCREASE WAGES OR PROVIDE STIPENDS FOR EMPLOYEES WHO PREPARE AND SERVE SCHOOL MEALS, AND TO CREATE PARENT AND STUDENT ADVISORY COMMITTEES TO PROVIDE ADVICE TO ENSURE SCHOOL MEALS ARE HEALTHY AND APPEALING TO ALL STUDENTS; AND CREATING A PROGRAM TO ASSIST IN PROMOTING COLORADO FOOD PRODUCTS AND PREPARING SCHOOL MEALS USING BASIC NUTRITIOUS INGREDIENTS WITH MINIMAL RELIANCE ON PROCESSED PRODUCTS?
YES / FOR. Providing healthy school meals by taxing high-income earners is easily the most progressive measure on Colorado’s 2022 ballot. Let’s make this happen!
The Colorado Blue Book has a great illustration on how the program would directly benefit students and families:
Here’s an article from the Boulder Daily Camera in March talking about the importance of free lunch programs:
Boulder Valley Food Services Director Stephen Menyhart called the federal support that allowed all students to eat school lunch for free, no paperwork required, during the pandemic a “great equalizer.”
… he noted the free lunch income requirements don’t take into account local housing costs. To qualify, a family of four can’t make more than $50,000 a year.”
In a place like Boulder, we often have significant divides between wealthier and poorer families amplified by high housing costs. Establishing a universal program would make a big difference.
Here’s an example from the Colorado Blue Book on how the progressive taxation portion of the measure will work:
The Boulder Valley School District Board of Education has endorsed the measure, saying Proposition FF is “an important benefit to Colorado’s families and kids who face food shortages and hunger.” Tell everyone you know to vote Yes.
Colorado Proposition FF, Reduce Income Tax Deduction Amounts to Fund School Meals Program Measure (2022) – Ballotpedia
Colorado Blue Book – Proposition FF – State of Colorado
Colorado voters asked to fund school lunches with tax hike on high incomes – Colorado Newsline
Proposition FF: Healthy meals for all public school students, explained – CPR News
Proposition FF: Slashing tax breaks for the wealthy would fund program giving all Colorado public school students free meals – Colorado Sun
Proposition GG (STATUTORY) – YES / FOR
Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes requiring that the ballot title and fiscal summary for any ballot initiative that increases or decreases state income tax rates include a table showing the average tax change for tax filers in different income categories?
YES / FOR. Per Ballotpedia for Proposition GG, “This measure would require ballot titles and fiscal impact summaries for initiatives that increase or decrease the individual income tax rate to include a table showing the potential tax changes for those in different income categories under the proposed initiative. Changes would be expressed by a dollar amount and a plus sign (+) if taxes owed would be increased or a negative sign (-) if the taxes owed would be decreased.”
Proposition GG is largely a response to a strategy from conservative / Republican groups to issues like Proposition 121 in 2022 and Proposition 116 in 2020 which systematically ask voters to approve state income tax cuts.
Prop 121 this year reads: “Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes reducing the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%?”
The current ballot structure provides little information about how income taxes would affect the state budget and who would be likely to receive significant cuts in taxes. Prop 116 passed in 2020 with 57.9% voting in favor.
Continued chipping away at the state’s income tax rate, and that the income tax savings will largely go to people with larger incomes, make additional information on the effects of these measures critically important. Please vote Yes.
Proposition GG: Information on Colorado income tax changes would be more prominently displayed – Colorado Sun
Colorado Blue Book – Proposition GG – State of Colorado
Proposition GG: Giving voters more information about proposed tax changes – CPR News
Proposition 121 (STATUTORY) – NO / AGAINST
Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes reducing the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%?
NO / AGAINST. Prop 121 is another continuation of conservative / Republican-aligned groups continuing to chip away at the state income tax, with the savings largely going to wealthier residents.
Per Chase Woodruff in Colorado Newsline on Prop 121: “If the initiative passes, a tax filer who earns $60,000 a year would owe about $63 less in taxes in 2023, according to a state fiscal analysis. Nearly half of the benefits of the rate reduction — an estimated $188 million — would go to Coloradans earning more than $1 million a year, who would see an average tax cut of $6,647.”
Another income tax cut would also directly impact 2022’s Prop 123 which would dedicate a small amount of income tax surplus to fund affordable housing in Colorado.
Here’s a quote from Scott Wasserman in CPR on Prop 121: “When we hit the first recession, we’ll be taking in less money,” said Scott Wasserman, president of the progressive Bell Policy Center, in an earlier interview. “This will impact K-12 education, health and human services, corrections, higher education, public safety, you name it.”
I urge you to vote no.
Colorado Proposition 121, State Income Tax Rate Reduction Initiative (2022) – Ballotpedia
Colorado Blue Book – Proposition 121 – State of Colorado
Proposition 121: Coloradans will decide whether to cut the state income tax rate — again – Colorado Sun
Proposition 121: Should Colorado cut its income tax rate again? – Denver Business Journal
Colorado Proposition 121: State Income Tax Rate Reduction Initiative – Daily Camera
Proposition 122 (STATUTORY) – YES / FOR
Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning legal regulated access to natural medicine for persons 21 years of age or older, and, in connection therewith, defining natural medicine as certain plants or fungi that affect a person’s mental health and are controlled substances under state law; establishing a natural medicine regulated access program for supervised care, and requiring the department of regulatory agencies to implement the program and comprehensively regulate natural medicine to protect public health and safety; creating an advisory board to advise the department as to the implementation of the program; granting a local government limited authority to regulate the time, place, and manner of providing natural medicine services; allowing limited personal possession, use, and uncompensated sharing of natural medicine; providing specified protections under state law, including criminal and civil immunity, for authorized providers and users of natural medicine; and, in limited circumstances, allowing the retroactive removal and reduction of criminal penalties related to the possession, use, and sale of natural medicine?
YES / FOR. I think Proposition 122 will be the most difficult item for me on this year’s ballot. In some ways, a simple decriminalization measure would be easier to support and write about. While I’m personally voting Yes, it’s a fairly soft yes that does leave me with some unanswered questions.
What I think this measure gets right: the aspects of decriminalization and details on what are permissible and impermissible use of the substances in general.
What I’m not sure about with this measure: what are the details of the substances themselves, how they might be used medically, or how they might be made available to the general public.
From the Colorado Blue Book:
Arguments Against Proposition 122
“There are currently no approved therapies that use psychedelic mushrooms or other plant-based psychedelic substances, and the effects of them can vary widely from person to person, depending on the dose, frequency of use, and type of substance. Breakthrough Therapy designation does not mean that the use of psychedelic mushrooms is safe or recommended.
Further, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline have not received a similar designation, and, specifically, ibogaine may cause life-threatening heart conditions. Proposing a regulatory framework for the use of these substances suggests that they offer legitimate treatment before they have received federal approval, potentially putting people’s health and public safety at risk.”
Is it possible that the passage of Prop 122 might further research and development of these areas? Perhaps. Is it also possible that we may find limited benefits and some negative externalities of passing Prop 122? Also possible.
In general, I feel that the measure goes in the right direction, but may need additional action from the legislature to tighten up the policy. Here are a few more sources to read that I think may be useful:
Colorado was the first state to legalize cannabis.
A decade after voters made Colorado the first government in the world to regulate, tax and sell cannabis, a look back at how it happened and what’s next.
More from Vicente Sederberg:
Colorado Prop 122: A Transformative Measure Grounded in Equity and Healing
Colorado Prop 122’s Historic Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Requirements
The Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022: A Measure to Access Psychedelic Medicine in Colorado
Colorado Proposition 122, Decriminalization and Regulated Access Program for Certain Psychedelic Plants and Fungi Initiative (2022) – Ballotpedia
Colorado Blue Book – Proposition 122 – State of Colorado
Native Coalition Against Prop 122
Untangling Viewpoints: Getting to Yes on the Natural Medicine Health Act – chacruna – Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines
What is Colorado Proposition 122: Legalizing psilocybin and psilocin? – Denver Post
Proposition 123 (STATUTORY) – YES / FOR
Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning statewide funding for additional affordable housing, and, in connection therewith, dedicating state revenues collected from an existing tax of one-tenth of one percent on federal taxable income of every individual, estate, trust, and corporation, as defined in law, for affordable housing and exempting the dedicated revenues from the constitutional limitation on state fiscal year spending; allocating 60% of the dedicated revenues to affordable housing financing programs that will reduce rents, purchase land for affordable housing development, and build assets for renters; allocating 40% of the dedicated revenues to programs that support affordable home ownership, serve persons experiencing homelessness, and support local planning capacity; requiring local governments that seek additional affordable housing funding to expedite development approvals for affordable housing projects and commit to increasing the number of affordable housing units by 3% annually; and specifying that the dedicated revenues shall not supplant existing appropriations for affordable housing programs?
YES / FOR. “Good luck trying to find an affordable home in Colorado,” the report’s executive summary says, “be it for rent or for sale, they simply do not exist,” as reported on Prop 123 in Colorado Politics.
Housing costs in Colorado and the Front Range have continued to get more unaffordable nearly every year over the past decade, with very little assistance from the state. Prop 123 would provide a good start on affordable housing funding. We should absolutely pass the measure and continue to find ways to do more. I believe that Colorado’s unaffordability is a serious risk to our economy and way of life.
There are a few caveats however:
- Funding will exist if we have a budget surplus, which is not guaranteed. In the case that we do not have a budget surplus, it appears that the state legislature would need to take action to prevent cuts from other parts of the budget.
- The funding itself will be for “housing programs administered by the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).” This means that we still rely on local governments to use the money effectively. Many of these local governments, including Boulder, highly restrict what housing can be built, and often have local policies that drastically raise the cost of housing or reduce the amount of total housing that can be built. Prop 123 will increase some incentives to change those policies, but local governments are still a huge barrier to housing affordability. Currently the state has no mechanism to force changes in local policy.
Here is a useful table from the Colorado Blue Book outlining how these funds will be used. Please vote Yes to support Prop 123.
Colorado Proposition 123, Dedicate State Income Tax Revenue to Fund Housing Projects Initiative (2022) – Ballotpedia
Colorado Blue Book – Proposition 123 – State of Colorado
Coloradans will vote on whether to increase affordable housing funding this fall. The initiative is ‘urgently needed,’ but its odds are hard to predict – CPR News
State budget writers fear consequences of Colorado voters approving affordable housing ballot measure – Colorado Sun
Editorial: Affordable housing solution must begin somewhere, ‘yes’ on Prop 123 – Daily Camera
Proposition 124 (STATUTORY) – NO / AGAINST
Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning increasing the number of retail liquor store licenses in which a person may hold an interest, and, in connection therewith, phasing in the increase by allowing up to 8 licenses by December 31, 2026, up to 13 licenses by December 31, 2031, up to 20 licenses by December 31, 2036, and an unlimited number of licenses on or after January 1, 2037?
NO / AGAINST. Proposition 124 is related to alcohol regulation and is one of three related measures on the November ballot, and is probably the most consequential for the industry.
The issue of alcohol licensing limitations is not a new one. From Colorado Politics in 2017, on recent the previous year’s action: “The passage of last year’s bill, Senate Bill 197, headed off as many as five proposed ballot measures to allow some combination of beer, wine and liquor sales in grocery and other stores, which the owners of smaller liquor stores worried would have led to the demise of mom-and-pop stores, particularly in rural Colorado.”
The Colorado Blue Book has a helpful graphic comparing current with the Prop 124 proposal:
I think voters need to weigh any potential benefits of passing Prop 124 with the costs. The current law was drafted as a compromise of sorts — allowing some protection of local and smaller businesses. While the new proposal would eventually remove such limits, and likely drive more intense competition from larger-scale liquor retailers.
I do not find the pro arguments compelling enough. Particularly since promoting competition to drive down the price of alcohol is likely not in the best interest of our communities and health more generally. I am voting no.
Colorado Proposition 124, Retail Liquor Store Licenses Initiative (2022) – Ballotpedia
Colorado Blue Book – Proposition 124 – State of Colorado
Proposition 124: Colorado voters will decide whether retail liquor stores should be able to open more locations – Colorado Sun
Why Locally Owned Liquor Stores Are Worried About 3 Upcoming Ballot Measures – 5280 Magazine
Zornio: Split the ticket on alcohol sale and delivery in Propositions 124, 125 and 126 – Colorado Sun
2017 – New Grocery Store Liquor Licensing Laws in Colorado – JBP Legal
2017 – Rival groups of liquor retailers kick up dust in legislative fight over spirit licenses – Colorado Politics
Proposition 125 (STATUTORY) – YES / FOR
Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning the expansion of retail sale of alcohol beverages, and, in connection therewith, establishing a new fermented malt beverage and wine retailer license for off-site consumption to allow grocery stores, convenience stores, and other business establishments licensed to sell fermented malt beverages, such as beer, for off-site consumption to also sell wine; automatically converting such a fermented malt beverage retailer license to the new license; and allowing fermented malt beverage and wine retailer licensees to conduct tastings if approved by the local licensing authority?
YES / FOR. Prop 125 concerns alcohol regulation in Colorado, similarly to Prop 124. Both issues concern the balance of convenience with protection of small business. I made the case against Prop 124 as changing that balance while not providing significant benefit to the consumer. I think Prop 125 makes more sense.
I can’t think of decent reasons not to allow both sales of beer and wine, or regulating tastings at the same location other than to protect existing markets from competition. I don’t think these particular regulations are worth keeping.
Colorado Proposition 125, Wine Sales in Grocery and Convenience Stores Initiative (2022) – Ballotpedia
Colorado Blue Book – Proposition 125 – State of Colorado
Proposition 125: Coloradans will decide whether grocery stores should be allowed to sell wine starting next year – Colorado Sun
Proposition 126 (STATUTORY) – YES / FOR
Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning authorization for the third-party delivery of alcohol beverages, and, in connection therewith, allowing retail establishments licensed to sell alcohol beverages for on-site or off-site consumption to deliver all types of alcohol beverages to a person twenty-one years of age or older through a third-party delivery service that obtains a delivery service permit; prohibiting the delivery of alcohol beverages to a person who is under 21 years of age, is intoxicated, or fails to provide proof of identification; removing the limit on the percentage of gross sales revenues a licensee may receive from alcohol beverage deliveries; and allowing a technology services company, without obtaining a third-party delivery service permit, to provide software or a digital network application that connects consumers and licensed retailers for the delivery of alcohol beverages?
YES / FOR. Prop 126 is another area of regulation that will affect the sale of alcohol and related businesses. According to the Colorado Blue Book, “alcohol takeout and delivery by bars and restaurants is scheduled to repeal in July 2025.” Prop 126 would continue current policy and remove other related regulations.
Again, we have a question of what is the proper balance of alcohol regulation and protectionism. I’ve personally found alcohol takeout and delivery service to be fairly transformative, where I find the often car-centric tradition of driving to get alcohol to contribute negatively to our communities.
While we might expect some long-term change in the industry after Prop 126 is made permanent, I think this is an area of regulation that needs to change. I’m voting yes.
Colorado Proposition 126, Alcohol Delivery Service Initiative (2022) – Ballotpedia
Colorado Blue Book – Proposition 126 – State of Colorado
Proposition 126: Should Colorado restaurants be allowed to sell to-go cocktails forever? – Colorado Sun
County Ballot Measures
Boulder County Ballot Issue 1A – YES / FOR
COUNTYWIDE WILDFIRE MITIGATION SALES AND USE TAX AND REVENUE CHANGE
SHALL BOULDER COUNTY TAXES BE INCREASED $11 MILLION ANNUALLY (FIRST FULL FISCAL YEAR DOLLAR INCREASE IN 2023) BY IMPOSING AN ADDITIONAL SALES AND USE TAX OF 0.10% FOR THE PURPOSE OF FUNDING WILDFIRE MITIGATION EFFORTS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING: STRATEGIC FOREST AND GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT PROJECTS TO REDUCE THE RISK OF CATASTROPHIC WILDFIRE, PROTECT WATER SUPPLIES, AND FOSTER RESILIENT ECOSYSTEMS; COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS AND PROGRAMS TO HELP RESIDENTS PREPARE FOR WILDFIRES, CREATE DEFENSIBLE SPACE AROUND HOMES, MAKE HOMES MORE FIRE RESISTANT, AND PROVIDE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO HOMEOWNERS; FIRE MITIGATION STAFFING; AND OTHER PROJECTS TO PROACTIVELY ADDRESS THE INCREASING RISK OF CLIMATE-DRIVEN WILDFIRES; AND SHALL THE REVENUES AND THE EARNINGS ON THE INVESTMENT OF THE PROCEEDS OF SUCH TAX, REGARDLESS OF AMOUNT, CONSTITUTE A VOTER APPROVED REVENUE CHANGE; ALL IN ACCORDANCE WITH BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS’ RESOLUTION NO. 2022-050?
YES / FOR. Wildfire mitigation is becoming increasingly important in Boulder and Colorado as the climate heats up and dries. We can be assured of more catastrophic fires as a result.
That being said, I’m incredibly disappointed with the regressive sales tax that the Boulder County Commissioners have presented for this critical measure. Reading the ballot language, it is apparent that the measure is of huge benefit to home and property owners in Boulder County. Among other things, the measure will “create defensible space around homes, make homes more fire resistant, and provide technical assistance and financial assistance to homeowners.”
It’s clear to me that this measure should have been a property tax, as its primary function is to protect property — a great source of inequality in the Boulder area. The poorest of us should not have to pay an unequal share to protect the private property of our wealthier residents.
1A: Countywide Wildfire Mitigation Sales and Use Tax and Revenue Change – Boulder Beat
RESOLUTION NO. 2022-050 Wildfire mitigation tax proposal – Boulder County
Opinion: Yes on 1A: Fire risk is increasing — funding and prevention should, too – Boulder Beat
Editorial: Wildfire mitigation among necessary taxes; ‘yes’ on 1A, 1B and 1C – Daily Camera
Guest opinion: Claire Levy, Matt Jones and Marta Loachamin: County measures provide wildfire protections, other services – Daily Camera
Boulder County Ballot Issue 1B – YES / FOR
EMERGENCY SERVICES SALES AND USE TAX AND REVENUE CHANGE
SHALL BOULDER COUNTY TAXES BE INCREASED $11 MILLION ANNUALLY (FIRST FULL FISCAL YEAR DOLLAR INCREASE IN 2023) BY IMPOSING AN ADDITIONAL 0.10% COUNTY-WIDE SALES AND USE TAX, DECLINING TO 0.05% AFTER DECEMBER 31, 2027, FOR THE PURPOSE OF FUNDING EMERGENCY SERVICES IN BOULDER COUNTY, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING: CAPITAL, INCLUDING FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT, AND OPERATIONAL COSTS OF SEARCH AND RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS; SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING FOR THE NEEDS OF FIRE DEPARTMENTS IN MOUNTAINOUS AND RURAL AREAS; AMBULANCE SERVICES IN AREAS NOT COVERED BY MUNICIPAL OR FIRE DISTRICT AMBULANCE SERVICES; WILDLAND FIREFIGHTING STAFFING; AND TRAIL AND TRAILHEAD SAFETY SERVICES; AND SHALL THE REVENUES AND THE EARNINGS ON THE INVESTMENT OF THE PROCEEDS OF SUCH TAX, REGARDLESS OF AMOUNT, CONSTITUTE A VOTER APPROVED REVENUE CHANGE; ALL IN ACCORDANCE WITH BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS’ RESOLUTION NO. 2022-052?
YES / FOR. Emergency services are one area of living in the Boulder area where it makes sense to have dedicated funding. Organizations like Rocky Mountain Rescue are great assets to our community — keeping people safe and allowing people to recreate with assurance that help will be there if needed.
Unlike Boulder County Ballot Issue 1A, the Emergency Services tax proposed as a sales tax makes sense. Recreation in Boulder County is not just for people who live here, but people who visit, too.
When I was on the City of Boulder’s Landmarks Board several years ago, we were looking at some data on who visits Chautauqua in Boulder. The study said that roughly a third of people visiting lived in the city, another third in the county, and another third outside of Boulder County. I think a similar ratio may apply to people recreating in Boulder County more generally. A sales tax would help capture revenue from these various demographics.
1B: Emergency Services Sales and Use Tax and Revenue Change – Boulder Beat
RESOLUTION NO. 2022-052 – Reso 22-052 Emergency Services tax proposal – Boulder County
Opinion: Yes on 1B: Tax will provide critical funding for life-saving services – Boulder Beat
Editorial: Wildfire mitigation among necessary taxes; ‘yes’ on 1A, 1B and 1C – Daily Camera
Guest opinion: Claire Levy, Matt Jones and Marta Loachamin: County measures provide wildfire protections, other services – Daily Camera
Boulder County Ballot Issue 1C – YES / FOR
TRANSPORTATION SALES AND USE TAX EXTENSION AND REVENUE CHANGE
WITH NO INCREASE IN ANY COUNTY TAX, SHALL THE COUNTY’S EXISTING 0.10% SALES AND USE TAX FOR TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS BE EXTENDED FOR THE PURPOSES OF ROAD AND BRIDGE IMPROVEMENTS, TRANSPORTATION SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS, COMMUTER AND RECREATIONAL BIKE PATHS AND TRAILS, TRANSIT CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS AND EQUIPMENT, TRANSIT OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE, TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENT, AND COMMUNITY MOBILITY PROGRAMS; AND SHALL THE REVENUES AND THE EARNINGS ON THE INVESTMENT OF THE PROCEEDS OF SUCH TAX CONSTITUTE A VOTER-APPROVED REVENUE CHANGE; ALL IN ACCORDANCE WITH BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS’ RESOLUTION NO. 2022-048?
YES / FOR. Boulder County Ballot Issue 1C extends an existing transportation tax in Boulder. While this is also a critical measure, I’m saddened that the Boulder County Commissioners chose the most timid, car-centric option rather than a higher tax that would fund more bike, pedestrian, and transit priorities.
Earlier this summer, Boulder County transportation staff presented the commissioners with various options for funding levels and spending priorities:
I acknowledge that there are a number of taxes on the ballot this year, and passage of an extension to the existing, expiring transportation tax is not guaranteed. But with our county’s significant transportation needs, it feels like our current funding level is simply inadequate for our needs and decarbonization priorities.
The commissioners played it safe, even when the highest taxing option had a polled approval of 58%, even with considerable numbers of people strongly opposed.
1C: Transportation Sales and Use Tax Extension and Revenue Change – Boulder Beat
RESOLUTION NO. 2022-048 Transportation tax extension proposal – Boulder County
Boulder County Transportation Sales Tax Open House, June 14, 2022 – YouTube, Boulder County
Opinion: Yes on 1C: Boulder County transportation tax is crucial for fighting climate change – Boulder Beat
Editorial: Wildfire mitigation among necessary taxes; ‘yes’ on 1A, 1B and 1C – Daily Camera
Guest opinion: Claire Levy, Matt Jones and Marta Loachamin: County measures provide wildfire protections, other services – Daily Camera
City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2A / 2B – YES / FOR
CLIMATE TAX (TABOR)
SHALL CITY OF BOULDER TAXES BE INCREASED $6.5 MILLION (FIRST, FULL FISCAL YEAR DOLLAR INCREASE) ANNUALLY AND INCREASING ANNUALLY BY THE CONSUMER PRICE INDEX BY IMPOSING A CLIMATE TAX ON THE DELIVERY OF ELECTRICITY AND NATURAL GAS AS PROVIDED IN ORDINANCE 8542; AND SHALL THE EXISTING CLIMATE ACTION PLAN EXCISE TAX SET TO EXPIRE MARCH 31, 2023 AND THE UTILITY OCCUPATION TAX SET TO EXPIRE DECEMBER 31, 2025 BE REPEALED; AND SHALL THE CLIMATE TAX BEGIN JANUARY 1, 2023, AND EXPIRE DECEMBER 31, 2040; WITH THE REVENUE FROM THE CLIMATE TAX AND ALL EARNINGS THEREON TO BE USED TO MAINTAIN AND EXPAND CLIMATE FOCUSED PROGRAMS AND SERVICES, FINANCE CERTAIN CAPITAL PROJECTS AND STABILIZE FUNDING FOR INITIATIVES TO MEET THE CITY’S CLIMATE GOALS INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ITEMS SUCH AS RESIDENTIAL AND BUSINESS INCENTIVES TO REDUCE ENERGY USE; ACCELERATE BUILDING WEATHERIZATION AND ELECTRIFICATION; LOCAL RENEWABLE ENERGY GENERATION AND STORAGE; MICROGRIDS AND DISTRICT SYSTEMS THAT LEAD TO INCREASED SYSTEM RELIABILITY AND RESILIENCE; EQUITABLE INVESTMENTS IN HIGH PERFORMING, HEALTHY BUILDINGS; SERVICES TO SUPPORT ZERO EMISSIONS; MOBILITY OPTIONS WITH AN EMPHASIS ON SOLUTIONS FOR CURRENTLY UNDERSERVED SEGMENTS OF THE COMMUNITY; ZERO-WASTE EFFORTS INCLUDING REUSE, REPAIR AND RECYCLING; NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS TO ENHANCE ECOSYSTEMS, IMPROVE AIR QUALITY AND BUFFER EXTREME HEAT EVENTS; INCENTIVES FOR COMMUNITY-BASED CLIMATE AND RESILIENCE ACTIONS; WILDFIRE RESILIENCE STRATEGIES SUCH AS WILDFIRE HOME RISK ASSESSMENTS, WILDFIRE MITIGATION PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION; OUTREACH AND EDUCATION; RESIDENTIAL AND BUSINESS INCENTIVES FOR THE ACCELERATION OF UNDERGROUNDING UTILITY LINES; FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR LOW-INCOME UTILITY CUSTOMERS; MATCHING FUNDS OR OTHER LEVERAGE TO ACCESS PUBLIC OR PRIVATE FUNDING SOURCES AND COST-SHARING AGREEMENTS TO ACCELERATE MEETING THE CITY’S CLIMATE GOALS?
YES / FOR THE MEASURE. (2A and 2B). The City of Boulder has implemented several dedicated climate taxes over recent decades: the Climate Action Plan Excise Tax and the Utility Occupation Tax. Both taxes are on energy usage, functioning as demand-based carbon taxes. The Climate Action tax was traditionally the city’s fund for climate-related action, yielding about $1.7 million per year. The Utility Occupation Tax was recently repurposed from its original intent — to support the city’s municipal energy project — which officially ended in 2020.
2A will implement the combined taxes and will generate about $6.5 million for local climate-related services, financing, and projects to help meet the city’s climate goals.
The overall structure of the combined taxes will be similar to the previous taxes, with a small increase in the overall rate, and that “the city is restructuring the rates so that businesses pay more and homeowners pay less.”
2B will implement municipal bonds (an additional cost to allow capital projects to start implementing faster).
You can read more from Shay Castle at Boulder Beat News: Ballot issues 2A, 2B: Climate Tax + Bonds
Ordinance 8542 – CLIMATE TAX (TABOR) – City of Boulder
Opinion: Yes on 2A, 2B: Governments (and Boulder) should take the lead on climate change – Boulder Beat
Opinion: No on 2A, 2B: Climate tax funds employee paychecks — not carbon reduction – Boulder Beat
City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2C – YES / FOR
Repeal of Library Commission and Tax if Library District Created
If the voters approve the initiative to create a library district that is on the ballot of Boulder County at the November 8, 2022 election, shall Sections 65, 102 and 130 of the Boulder Home Rule Charter be amended and Sections 69, 132, 133, and 134 be repealed from the Boulder Home Rule Charter and any remaining funds in the Library Fund used all as set forth in Ordinance 8539?
Yes / For the Measure. The City of Boulder currently has a .333 mills property tax that offers a small part of the current funding for our library system, totaling $1.4 million of the total $11.1 million in the 2023 budget. If Boulder Public Library District Ballot Issue 6C passes, which will establish a library district for the Boulder area funded by dedicated property taxes, then the current dedicated funding for the library can be repealed, allowing the city to repurpose or refund the tax.
Regardless for your support of creating a library district, ballot question 2C makes sense if 6C passes. What will the city ultimately do with the existing revenues if the measure passes? City council has yet to determine a plan, but you can read some of the ideas proposed from staff in the September 22nd 2022 Boulder City Council meeting.
You can read more details from Shay Castle at Boulder Beat News: Ballot Question 2C – Repeal of Library Commission and Tax if Library District Created
Boulder Ballot Issue 2C: Repeal Library Commission and tax – Daily Camera
Ordinance 8539 – Repeal of Library Commission and Tax if Library District Created – City of Boulder
City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2D – YES / FOR
Charter Clarification of Candidate Issues
Shall Sections 5 and 9 of the Boulder Home Rule Charter be amended to allow candidates to run for only one office at an election, allow a council member whose term does not end at the election to run for mayor without resigning their seat unless they win the office of mayor, fill vacancies for the remainder of the vacated term, and change the swearing-in date of newly elected officials as provided in Ordinance 8540?
Yes / For the Measure. Boulder voters passed a measure in 2020 to directly elect our mayor, starting in 2023. The change has a few implications for city council elections as well. I think the changes listed below all make sense and should be passed by voters.
A few details to discuss:
- “allow candidates to run for only one office at an election.” The reason for this provision is to reduce complexity and confusion in having a candidate run for both mayor and city council at the same time. Also, given our campaign finance systems and 1-to-1 public matching dollars for campaigns would also get more complicated with a single candidate running for multiple offices.
- “allow a council member whose term does not end at the election to run for mayor without resigning their seat unless they win the office of mayor.” Boulder’s mayor will only have a term of two years. I think that these elections will favor candidates who are well-positioned, and will likely have higher barriers to entry compared to running for city council. Many of the likely candidates for mayor will already have a seat on city council and are already well-positioned. The proposed change would allow candidates to run for mayor, and if the candidate lost the mayor’s election, would retain their seat on city council.
- “fill vacancies for the remainder of the vacated term.” Under Boulder’s charter, vacancies on city council can only be filled during an election, and not by a vacancy committee, which is more common for state offices. Boulder’s charter states that during an election, the number of council members elected will need to match the total number of vacancies on the council at the election. For instance, if there are four terms up for election, and ten candidates run for council, then the top four of those candidates will receive a term in office. In the case that an existing council member runs for mayor and wins, that would create an additional vacancy on council (five total), which would be assigned to the candidate with the next-highest vote total.
- “change the swearing-in date of newly elected officials.” The swearing-in date of new officials is currently in November. However, in close elections which take longer to count votes and certify, it’s not uncommon for races to be too close to call. Moving the swearing-in date back a few weeks to December would solve this issue.
You can read more details from Shay Castle at Boulder Beat News: Ballot Question 2D – Charter Clarification of Candidate Issues
Ordinance 8540 – Charter Clarification of Candidate Issues – City of Boulder
Opinion: Yes on 2D: Changes allow flexibility, retain essential experience – Boulder Beat
Opinion: No on 2D: Proposed limits are bad for candidates and voters – Boulder Beat
City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2E – YES / FOR
Change Regular Municipal Election to Even Years
Shall Sections 5, 14, and 22 of the Boulder Home Rule Charter be amended to change the regular municipal election date to even numbered years on the same date as the state general election beginning with the November 2026 election date, and to implement the transition, reduce the term of the council members elected in 2023 and 2025 to three years and increase the term of the mayor elected in 2023 to three years, all as more specifically provided in Ordinance 8546?
Yes / For the Measure. Full disclosure: I’m a co-lead on the People for Voter Turnout campaign to pass Boulder Ballot Question 2E. As a former Boulder City Council candidate in 2017 and organizer on many local campaigns, increasing turnout and representation in our city elections is incredibly important to me.
Boulder’s local elections are currently held in off-years, when many fewer people vote than in even years. We have lots of evidence that off-year elections are not only correlated with low voter turnout, but the main cause of low turnout. From the People for Voter Turnout Research Page:
So what happens when voter turnout is low, and why is it a problem? City councils make lots of important decisions affecting our quality of life, including those around housing, services, and policies for our city. When our elections are not representative in terms of age, race, income, housing status, and other factors, our city leaders do not reflect the breadth of people in our community.
Measure 2E would move Boulder’s local elections to even years when nearly double the people are voting. A number of cities across the United States have moved to on-cycle elections and shown dramatic increases in people participating in their local democracy.
Measure 2E was put on the ballot by Boulder City Council after prioritizing the change in January of 2022. I would love your support in making this change here in Boulder.
But not everyone in Boulder thinks the move would be helpful. I want to highlight some comments from local elected officials who openly dismissed the intelligence of voters in Boulder:
Boulder City Councilman Bob Yates, in his July Newsletter: “Maybe the motive here really is to get more people to vote in city council elections, under the belief that quantity is better than quality. Maybe the proponents sincerely believe that voters who currently opt out of odd-year city council elections will, once presented with a council race in even years, become informed about local issues and make good choices.”
Boulder County Commissioner Claire Levy, on October 18th: “Most people I talk to can’t distinguish one candidate from another and dislike the rancorous tone of the outside groups that endorse candidates. It is very difficult to truly understand the differences among the candidates without attending debates and talking to them. Students are here temporarily and don’t see themselves as being affected by what city council does.”
I find these arguments truly gross, and dismissive of the diversity of people and needs in our community. More people need a voice in our local government, not fewer.
So are there any real arguments to oppose the move, other than keeping Boulder elections our little secret? I’ll address the best ones.
Will even-year elections drown out local issues and candidates?
No. In fact, they will elevate issues, as the elections will happen when nearly 90% of Boulder is voting. Candidates will need to make an effort to reach out to a broader set of people in the community and engage people with issues. Here’s a quote from my friend Adrian Fine:
“Palo Alto moved to even-year elections in 2012. When I ran for City Council in 2016, there was no question that an even year meant more people were listening and engaging on local issues.”
-Former Mayor of Palo Alto and current Boulder resident
Will school board elections be ‘orphaned’ if we move city elections?
No. I’ll reference the People for Voter Turnout FAQ:
Boulder’s school board elections occur in off-years like our city council elections currently do, causing them to have very low turnout of around 30%. Like cities, school boards need the autonomy to move their elections to even years to boost turnout and representation. We support and are working to change state law to allow for school board elections to be held in even years.
In the meantime, will turnout drop in school board elections if city council elections move to even years? We have lots of evidence that says no:
- Only about ⅔’s of people in Boulder who vote in off-years vote in school board elections. These are very consistent voters that vote every year and will continue to vote every year.
Here is some data from the 2021 school board elections in precincts in the City of Boulder to show just how consistent off-year voters are. The table below correlates votes for candidates and undervotes (i.e. vote for none) with voters’ history.
8×8 voters, those who have voted eight times in the past eight elections, are much more likely to vote for school board candidates rather than undervote. On the less-likely voter side, voters who hadn’t voted in an off-year election were much more likely to not vote in school board elections. Even if turnout dropped slightly in future off-years, it will be minor, because the consistent voters have and will continue voting in school board elections.
- Superior, Colorado — just outside of Boulder and in Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) — holds its municipal city council elections in even years. In 2021, Superior showed virtually identical turnout in school board elections (31%) compared to Boulder (32%).
Here is more in depth data in a comparison between Boulder and Superior using data from Boulder County Clerk. Superior has even higher voter turnout in even years, a somewhat larger drop in off-years, yet rates of voting in school board elections are roughly the same.
Passing measure 2E will be a great benefit to Boulder and help support school boards to work toward increasing turnout in their elections.
Why is turnout lower in off years? Why aren’t people voting in off-cycle elections?
When I first wanted to understand the reason to move local elections to even years, I found a really incredible book. The book is called “Timing and Turnout: How Off-Cycle Elections Favor Organized Groups” by Sarah F. Anzia, Associate Professor of Public Policy & Political Science at UC Berkeley.
Dr. Anzia writes, “moving local elections from off-cycle to the same day as presidential elections is three times more effective at increasing turnout than the most effective mode of mobilization—face-to-face canvassing.” As someone who has knocked thousands of doors in local elections over the years, I was really surprised to hear how important on-cycle elections are for turnout.
I’ll reference the People for Voter Turnout FAQ again:
There are lots of reasons as to why voters don’t turn out as much for odd-year elections.
The majority of people typically think of “Election Day” as the first Tuesday in November of even-numbered years. In off-years, when there are no statewide elections, many people don’t even realize an election is occurring.
Off-years do not have the same level of support or interest from groups and organizations that try to get out the vote, which reduces turnout.
Advocacy groups and organizations do not put in the same level of time, money, or resources into getting out the vote in off-years, which reduces turnout.
Additionally, off-cycle elections are more likely to reduce turnout for lower-income people and renters, who are more likely to move year to year. While Colorado is an all-mail ballot state, a person that moves in August and does not update their voter registration will not receive their ballot by mail. This adds a significant barrier to voting and that effect is multiplied with the reduced awareness of off-cycle elections.
I believe voting Yes on measure 2E will ensure that more people have a say in our local government and that we elect representatives who will and must govern for the broader community.
You can read more details from Shay Castle at Boulder Beat News: 2E: Change Regular Municipal Election to Even Years
Ordinance 8546 – Change Regular Municipal Election to Even Years – City of Boulder
Episode 27 Jill Adler Grano, People for Voter Turnout – Sharing Boulder Podcast
Editorial: Increasing turnout must be our priority, ‘yes’ on 2E – Daily Camera
Opinion: Yes on 2E: To broaden democracy, broaden the vote – Boulder Beat
Opinion: No on 2E: Keep the focus on local issues – Boulder Beat
Guest opinion: Jill Adler Grano and Matt Benjamin: Robust election turnout is fundamental to democracy – Daily Camera
Guest opinion: Brian Keegan: Odd election years are temporal gerrymandering – Daily Camera
City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2F – NO / AGAINST
Repeal of Ordinance 8483, Regarding the Annexation of CU South
Should Ordinance 8483 regarding the annexation of CU South, be repealed?
No / Against the measure. Perhaps the most incredible part of Ballot Question 2F is that Boulder voters had to consider the same issue last year with Question 302, which tried to stop the annexation of CU South. So what has changed in a year? Not much. Will the result be the same? I can’t wait to find out!
I’ll leverage the intro from last year’s guide:
A few things have been true for many years: South Boulder Creek is prone to significant flooding risk in East Boulder, and the University of Colorado owns a parcel in southeast Boulder dubbed “CU South,” bearing a sign that says “To serve the needs of future students.”
Question 302 is about providing critically needed flood protection to 2,300+ Boulder residents and building the housing that CU and our city critically needs. Read “CU South annexation: A primer” from Shay Castle to get the full backstory.
This year we have another great read from Boulder Reporting Lab that I highly encourage to read for fun and intrigue: Decades of ‘what-ifs’: The history of CU South leaves many wondering what could have been.
So where does this leave us as voters evaluating how to vote on the measure?
Voting ‘No / Against’ will mean:
The current annexation plan, including flood mitigation, university housing, some university facilities, and preserving a large portion of the site as open space, will continue as outlined in the annexation agreement. I highly endorse voting no.
Voting ‘Yes / For’ will mean:
The City of Boulder and University of Colorado annexation agreement will be repealed. That means that current plans for the above agreement will stop. At that point, it will be incumbent on the city to renegotiate an agreement with the university.
The risks of a Yes vote are severe. We must accept that it was the City of Boulder that initiated the agreement in order to protect our own residents from dangerous flooding. The university has no obligation to concede to further demands to meet the city’s goal.
While some think that the parcel of land should be purchased and converted entirely to open space, that is not a realistic nor ideal use for much of the land, as witnessed in 1981 when “Boulder’s then open space director, the late Jim Crain, recommended Boulder not buy the Deepe farm to add to the open space accumulating around town,” via the Boulder Reporting Lab article.
The agreement as it stands will benefit both the university and our city. Please vote No to allow no more delay.
You can read more details from Shay Castle at Boulder Beat News: 2F – Repeal of Ordinance 8483, regarding the annexation of CU South
Ordinance 8534 – Repeal of Ordinance 8483, Regarding the Annexation of CU South – City of Boulder
Ordinance 8483- Annexation of CU South – City of Boulder
CU South Annexation Agreement (2021) – City of Boulder
Elections 2022: Ballot Measure 2F to Repeal Annexation of CU South – KGNU
Editorial: Flood protection must prevail, “no” on question 2F – Daily Camera
Opinion: No on 2F: Boulder needs flood protection, not endless negotiations – Boulder Beat
Opinion: Yes on 2F: Facts, science and a win-win – Boulder Beat
Boulder Valley School District RE-2 Ballot Issue 5A – YES / FOR
SHALL BOULDER VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT RE-2 DEBT BE INCREASED BY $350 MILLION, WITH A REPAYMENT COST OF NOT TO EXCEED $714 MILLION, AND SHALL DISTRICT TAXES BE INCREASED NOT MORE THAN $32 MILLION ANNUALLY, BY THE ISSUANCE AND PAYMENT OF GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS ALL FOR THE PURPOSES DESCRIBED IN THE DISTRICT’S FACILITIES CRITICAL NEEDS PLAN APPROVED BY THE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND WILL BE MONITORED BY A COMMUNITY BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING:
– INVESTING IN DISTRICT SCHOOLS, SITES, AND FACILITIES BY REPAIRING, REPLACING, AND/OR UPGRADING INFRASTRUCTURE, BUILDING SYSTEMS AND FINISHES, AND REMOVING ASBESTOS FOR THE PURPOSES OF ADDRESSING URGENT FACILITY DEFICIENCIES, IMPROVING THE LEARNING AND WORK ENVIRONMENT FOR ALL STUDENTS AND STAFF, EXPANDING ADA ACCESSIBILITY, EXTENDING THE SERVICE LIFE OF BUILDINGS, IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY, AND CREATING SAFER LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS;
– ADDRESSING EDUCATIONAL DEFICIENCIES IN CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION (CTE) BY RENOVATING LEARNING SPACES TO CONSTRUCT INDUSTRY-INSPIRED ENVIRONMENTS, INCLUDING LAB-LIKE CLASSROOMS AT SECONDARY SCHOOLS AND MODERNIZING LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS AT THE TECHNICAL EDUCATION CENTER;
– REPLACING THE 70-YEAR-OLD NEW VISTA HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING WHICH HAS REACHED THE END OF ITS SERVICE LIFE, WITH A MODERN, ENERGY EFFICIENT BUILDING;
– CONSTRUCTING AND EQUIPPING AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CAMPUS IN ERIE, COLORADO TO ACCOMMODATE ENROLLMENT GROWTH AND RELIEVE OVERCROWDING AT OTHER DISTRICT SCHOOLS;
WITH SUCH GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS TO BE SOLD, BEAR INTEREST, MATURE, BE SUBJECT TO REDEMPTION, WITH OR WITHOUT PREMIUM OF NOT MORE THAN THREE PERCENT, AND BE ISSUED AT SUCH TIME, AT SUCH PRICE (AT, ABOVE OR BELOW PAR) IN SUCH MANNER AND CONTAINING SUCH TERMS NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THIS BALLOT ISSUE, AS THE BOARD OF EDUCATION MAY DETERMINE, AND SHALL THE MILL BE IMPOSED IN ANY YEAR AT A MILL LEVY SUFFICIENT TO PAY THE PRINCIPAL OF AND INTEREST ON SUCH DEBT OR ANY REFUNDING DEBT, OR TO CREATE A RESERVE FOR SUCH PAYMENT, PROVIDED THAT ANY REVENUE PRODUCED BY SUCH LEVY SHALL NOT EXCEED $32 MILLION ANNUALLY?
YES / FOR. The Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) is one of the state’s top school districts. From a facilities and enrollment perspective, the district has some particular challenges with the aging of schools in the Boulder portion of the district and the demand for new schools in eastern Boulder County. The proposed 2022 bond tries to address both while also expanding career and technical education offerings.
Here’s an article from 2021 referencing the findings from a BVSD working group:
“The school’s 68-year-old building isn’t designed for high school students, doesn’t have needed flexible education spaces or adequate performance space, and has multiple structural issues, district officials said. Formerly Baseline Middle School, the building was occupied by New Vista in 2004.”
Most of the population growth, and particularly the growth of young families in BVSD is outside of Boulder. The new bond would fund another elementary school in Erie:
“BVSD is experiencing enrollment growth in the northeastern area of the district. Meadowlark School is a PK-8 school that opened in 2017, and is the district’s only school in Erie. The school is already at capacity at the elementary level and is expected to be at 150% of the building’s capacity within 5 years.”
The other bulk of the funding in the bond will be used for programs that better help prepare kids for careers in data science, engineering, and software. “Today the highest sought jobs are in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, cybersecurity and digital transformation.” BVSD is a leader in Colorado and passing the bond will allow the district to continue its excellence in education.
You can read more details from Shay Castle at Boulder Beat News: Ballot Issue 5A: Boulder Valley School District RE-2 bonds
Boulder Valley School District Issue 5A: Capital improvement bond issue – Daily Camera
BVSD school board hears update on bond issue ballot measure – Daily Camera
Opinion: Yes on 5A: Investing in our schools is investing in our children and our communities – Boulder Beat
Opinion: Unanswered questions surround BVSD’s bond measure – Boulder Beat
Boulder Public Library District Ballot Issue 6C – YES / FOR
LIBRARY DISTRICT FORMATION AND MILL LEVY TAX AND REVENUE CHANGE
SHALL THE BOULDER PUBLIC LIBRARY DISTRICT TAXES BE INCREASED $18,780,000 ANNUALLY FOR COLLECTION BEGINNING IN 2023, AND BY SUCH ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS RAISED ANNUALLY THEREAFTER BY AN AD VALOREM PROPERTY TAX MILL LEVY IMPOSED AT A RATE OF 3.5 MILLS TO PROVIDE FACILITIES AND SERVICES WHICH MAY INCLUDE:
– RESTORED AND IMPROVED LITERACY PROGRAMS, INCLUDING PARTNERSHIPS WITH SCHOOLS TO REACH UNDERSERVED STUDENTS AND STUDENTS WHO FELL BEHIND DURING THE PANDEMIC;
– ADDITIONAL FREE AND SAFE PUBLIC SPACES FOR COMMUNITY MEETINGS, WORKSHOPS AND PROGRAMS;
– UPDATED AND IMPROVED COLLECTIONS OF BOOKS AND MATERIALS, INCLUDING BILINGUAL MATERIALS AND DOWNLOADING OF E-BOOKS, MOVIES, AND MUSIC;
– EXTENDED HOURS AT ALL EXISTING LIBRARIES AND A NEW BRANCH LIBRARY IN GUNBARREL;
– EXPANDED ACCESS TO STEAM PROGRAMS, MAKERSPACES, AND FREE INTERNET FOR YOUNG PEOPLE, UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES AND SENIORS;
– IMPROVED MAINTENANCE, CLEANLINESS, SAFETY, AND SECURITY AT ALL LIBRARY FACILITIES;
AND SHALL THE DISTRICT BE ENTITLED TO COLLECT, RETAIN AND SPEND THOSE REVENUES IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER TAXES, FEES OR OTHER REVENUES OF THE DISTRICT, NOTWITHSTANDING ANY LIMITATION OR RESTRICTION OF ARTICLE X, SECTION 20 OF THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION, OR WITHOUT REGARD TO THE 5.5% PROPERTY TAX REVENUE LIMITATION OF SECTION 29-1-301, C.R.S., OR ANY OTHER LAW, AND SHALL THE DISTRICT BE FORMED?
YES / FOR. Measure 6C would establish a library district and a permanent, stable funding mechanism for Boulder and the surrounding county. We should vote yes to preserve and expand this important community resource.
I’m encouraged to see broad support for libraries in Boulder from a 2022 poll. This support is in addition to multiple other polls in recent years establishing that voters will support a measure to permanently fund our library system. While some on the city council have questioned whether a library district is the right form of funding and governance, the reality is that library districts are stable and well-used in 57 communities across Colorado and are governed by state law.
I wanted to share a personal story about why Boulder’s libraries are important to me and worth supporting. In 2015 I spent days at Boulder’s Carnegie Library researching the history of Boulder’s discriminatory housing laws. I used my findings extensively for a talk at Ignite Boulder 26, “A solution to occupancy limits in Boulder.”
In 2020 on the Bedrooms Are For People campaign, I again needed to use library services to finally find the origin and full history of these laws. But due to library funding cuts that have not been restored, I could only sign up for a single two-hour session per month. These library services are still not accessible to this day, and I haven’t been able to document the history.
What struck me about the library conversation is simply how long Boulder has let our library system suffer. Joni Teter, a member of the Boulder Library Champions who are working to pass 6C, co-wrote in the Daily Camera: “The best way to support public libraries? Fund them.”
Joni kindly sent me some of her records on Boulder’s history in library funding. In a piece by the late Boulder Library Commissioner Alex Warner, he says: “Once again the Boulder Public Library faces a crisis. Should such an important center for learning be closed two days a week as expected in 1988?”
Boulder’s has chosen to inadequately fund our libraries for decades. On November 4th 1987, a ballot issue that would have provided dedicated money to the library failed by about 10% points.
Again in 2022, we have a small but well-funded opposition to sustainable library funding in Boulder. Their opposition campaign is based on misinformation and a refusal to pay taxes to adequately fund our libraries. If you have more questions about how the district will work, I suggest reading the Frequently Asked Questions from the Boulder Library Champions.
It’s been far too long, Boulder. Vote YES on 6C and let’s fund our libraries.
You can read more details from Shay Castle at Boulder Beat News: 6C: Library district formation and mill levy tax
Boulder Public Library District Ballot Issue 6C: Formation of district with mill levy – Daily Camera
Editorial: Libraries aren’t cheap, but they’re worth every penny, ‘yes’ on 6C – Daily Camera
Opinion: Yes on 6C: A vote for the library district is a vote for improving our community – Boulder Beat
Opinion: No on 6C: Library District is a tax increase without accountability – Boulder Beat
Please share with anyone to whom this guide might be helpful.
A reminder that ballots must be mailed no later than Novembr 1st and ballots may be dropped off by 7pm on Election Day, Tuesday November 8th, 2022.
If you’re not a registered voter or you need to update your registration, you can register online now at Go Vote Colorado! (all you need is an updated Colorado driver’s license). If you register now, you will receive a ballot in the mail. Otherwise, you can register and vote through election day.
Questions, comments, or otherwise can be emailed to me Eric Budd at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ericmbudd or on Mastodon at @email@example.com