Election 2017

Our countywide endorsements and analysis, covering all ballot questions and candidates

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Welcome to our 2017 Vote Guide

Hopefully we’ve learned a couple of things from last year’s election. First, that a highly motivated minority with the help of a few special-interest backers can turn the world upside-down if too many of the rest of us are too lazy or have grown too weary of politics to vote. And we also should have learned that when it comes to our democracy, there is nothing more important than participating in local elections.

When Trump and his administration started gutting the EPA, pulled us out of the Paris climate agreement, declared war on immigrants including the termination of DACA, threatened to recriminalize marijuana, started supporting white supremacists while condemning U.S. citizens for exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and protest, it was our local governments in many places that had our backs.

City councils across this nation have declared their communities sanctuary cities and are working to prevent the persecution of immigrants to the best of their abilities. Local governments are putting regulations in place to protect the health and quality of life of their citizens from polluting industries now freed from federal oversight. Cities have committed to working under the Paris climate agreement even if our nation won’t. 

All of these new responsibilities have been heaped upon our local elected leaders who were already charged with doing a lot of important tasks. Things like finding solutions to challenges like education, homelessness, affordable housing, transportation, water resources, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, flood preparedness and recovery, crime, fires, oil and gas extraction, open space and other land use issues to name only a few.

We tend to under-appreciate the importance of our local elections in off years and we also tend to not turn out to vote in as large of numbers as we should. That would be a mistake this year because the issues are really important, and even at the local level, we are seeing the intervention of special interest groups, whether it’s to kill the municipalization process, increase development, shut down virtually all future development or divert more water from the Colorado River. The bottom line is if you have an opinion on such things, you better research which candidates believe what before you vote. Relying on name recognition alone tends to make for lousy government.

That’s where this vote guide comes in. We have done our best to provide all Boulder County voters with as much research as we could. We interviewed the candidates in every community and examined all the ballot issues. We then locked ourselves in our conference room where we talked, debated, yelled and tried our best to come to a consensus as to who to endorse and what positions we should take on the issues. Then we brought some candidates back in to drill down further and did it all over again, sometimes in seven-hour stretches at a time.

In the end, as has been the case in every election in the last quarter-century, we finally arrived at our choices. Not all of us agree on every candidate or all of that candidate’s positions. While many voters make their decisions on what a candidate thinks about only one or two issues, we try to weigh many more, recognizing at different times, some are more relevant than others. There are candidates who are great on transportation and terrible on homelessness, good on municipalization and less so on growth, or great on oil and gas but bad at managing a large budget. There are no perfect candidates.

So once again we have tried to envision city councils in Boulder, Longmont and Lafayette (all races in Louisville were uncontested) that will be made up of people with different strengths and backgrounds who represent different generations whom we believe will be able to work together for the good of their communities. We’ve done our best to choose school board candidates with the experience to serve our children well. And we have researched the issues and told you what we think.

For us, this is the most difficult and important issue we put out every year. Thank you for letting us participate in your local democracies. It is an honor. We hope the following information is useful to you. And please vote.

—Joel Dyer, Editor

CITY OF BOULDER
Council Candidates
Vote for no more than five (5)

Bill Rigler
Mark McIntyre
Eric Budd
Cindy Carlisle
Jan Burton
Mary Dolores Young
Jill Adler Grano
Mirabai Kuk Nagle
Matt Benjamin
Sam Weaver
Adam Swetlik
John Gerstle
Ed Byrne
Camilo Casas
Write-In

At no time in recent history has the race for Boulder City Council seemed so politically divided. On one side exist (mostly) pro-development and anti-muni voices, on the other are those looking to restrict growth and support Boulder’s quest to own its energy future through municipalization.

Out of that dichotomy, apparent blocs have formed. And those blocs are being promoted by opposing political advocacy groups: Engage Boulder, Better Boulder and Open Boulder on one side with Together4Boulder and PLAN-Boulder on the other. Money and endorsements from these groups have created two opposing slates of candidates from the standpoint of who backs whom. But we should note all of the candidates receiving these endorsements have denied that they are working with other candidates in their endorsement bloc to accomplish a particular agenda. And, to be sure, there are several qualified individuals who were omitted from these high-profile endorsements altogether.

Two years ago, our concern in endorsing five city council candidates was to find balance for a governing body we thought had grown stale. As a result, we endorsed qualified candidates with diverse backgrounds, experiences and ideas. But this year is a bit different.

When meeting with all of the candidates in our South Boulder office, and given the concerns surrounding the influence of special interests in this year’s election, we looked for candidate independence on issues with money behind them such as municipalization, development and the future of broadband.

While following the money in elections is something we have always done for our readers, it has become more difficult in recent years. Mail-in ballots mean that most votes are already in long before the final campaign finance reports are filed. And dark money is just that. It is often spent in support of certain issues that in turn help certain candidates, but it rarely can be tracked by media in the heat of the campaign. We’ll keep watching and let you know what we find as quickly as possible.

Another metric we used in our endorsement process was to look for candidates with fresh ideas on topics that affect day-to-day life in Boulder, but which have either eluded long-term solutions or now have reached a crossroads, such as transportation, truly affordable housing, homelessness and arts advocacy. As a result of this quest for fresh ideas, we’ve endorsed three candidates under the age of 40.

Though we didn’t agree with any candidate on every issue, we believe each of the candidates we’ve endorsed are people of high character and competence, who will do their best to serve the people of Boulder. We hope their election will help to create a City Council ready to address the many challenges facing the City at this time.

Here are our choices.

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Sam Weaver is a thoughtful incumbent whose well-studied views have benefitted the City during his years of service. We think the best is yet to come. He’s ardently pro-municipalization, pointing out that the financial cost to Boulder pales in comparison to the profit Xcel makes off the city. He supports better governance via sub-community planning, a method by which the city can engage groups of neighborhoods for better development outcomes. He also has a plan to add to the city’s crop of middle-income housing via a down payment loan program. Weaver continues to support a community-wide EcoPass, and we appreciate his thoughtful work on Boulder’s new, integrated homeless services. Weaver says he’ll continue to bring his non-polarized, steady approach to local government, which he believes is more important now than ever due to government dysfunction at the state and federal level. We agree.

There’s no better advocate for practical solutions to important social justice issues in this race than incumbent Mary Young. That starts with housing, where Young advocates to stop the displacement and eviction of many of the city’s most vulnerable, even if it means tripling commercial construction fees to pay for affordable housing. Her advocacy extends to transportation, where she vows to continue to work with RTD to secure community-wide EcoPass, as well as keep an eye toward supporting future transportation models such as autonomous vehicles. And if the muni tax fails to pass, Young says she’ll support taking the battle to the state, without using general fund money.

We also appreciate the work candidate Jill Grano has done on projects that benefit the community. She helped launch the plastic bag fee effort, bought tax liens to provide relief for mobile homeowners to make sure they weren’t evicted, and is the only candidate who said she is committed to seeking solutions to food insecurity and mental health care in Boulder. We disagree with her on some issues regarding development, but at the same time appreciate her ideas on creative housing solutions. She is personally passionate about creating a muni but we are a bit concerned that she accepted the endorsements of three organizations that endorsed a slate of anti-municipalization candidates with Grano being the only exception. We assume those endorsements came because of Grano’s positions on development. Regardless, her ability to think outside the box on a variety of issues should provide a fresh voice to serve the Boulder community.

In many ways, Mirabai Nagle represents many of the perspectives missing from the current Council. She’s a Boulder native, a Gunbarrel resident, a small business owner, a first responder with the Sugar Loaf Fire Protection District and has personally been through the affordable housing program. Given this background, her values and ideas are unique. She wants to carve out 20 percent of commercial spaces for local business, modeled after the affordable residential program. She also proposes finding ways to support long-time businesses to make sure they don’t vanish as rents rise. She supports the muni, while also recognizing transportation’s important role in reaching the City’s 2013 renewable energy goals. She says a community-wide EcoPass, further rebates for electric cars, and smart infrastructure would be a good start. She’d like to see less development and density because she believes that it “doesn’t make it cheaper” to live here.

Matt Benjamin’s pragmatic and forward-thinking approach to transportation is critical. He supports aggressively planning for a transportation revolution, which includes autonomous and electric vehicles, while also recognizing that “human nature is hard to change,” thus punishing drivers is not productive. His common sense solutions extend to affordable housing (via, for example, increasing in-lieu fees for developers, which he says would force more affordable housing to be built on-site.) He believes Boulder should be a “right to shelter” city and our homeless services should be “versatile and nimble” to changing needs. Benjamin is the former education programs manager at Fiske Planetarium, and says his background in science will buffer him from polarization. He is the only anti-muni candidate we endorse, but if the muni tax passes, he vows, “I will use my evidence-based approach to improve the management and effectiveness of our municipalization process. We have been stumbling over our feet, and we need a clearer set of expectations and processes in order to achieve our goals.”

We understand some of you may not be interested in voting for any candidate opposed to municipalization. If so, we recommend Cindy Carlisle. Carlisle says her previous experience both on the Boulder City Council and the CU Board of Regents will help mitigate the mistrust in government, division and loss of progressive ideals she sees in Boulder and beyond. She wants to revisit commercial construction fees as a mechanism to offset development’s impact on the city and seeks a legal approach to protecting small businesses. She’s ardently pro-muni and has been a long supporter of Open Space.

Ballot Issue 2L City of Boulder Utility Occupation Tax Increase and Extension

For the Measure            

In 2010, the citizens of Boulder first voted for the Utility Occupation Tax as part of the effort to move toward a municipal public utility and separate the City’s energy future from Xcel. The tax levied against Xcel replaced the previous franchise fee the City charged the company for use of public infrastructure such as roads and rights-of-way. But the franchise tied the City’s energy portfolio to Xcel’s, reducing the City’s ability to move more swiftly toward renewables and other solutions. When the tax passed, the City then charged Xcel approximately $4 million annually for the next several years, passed down to voters through minimal fees on monthly residential and commercial energy bills. In 2015, voters passed an extension of the utility tax (another $4 million), continuing to support municipalization even as the City was tied up in litigation with Xcel and waiting for the Public Utilities Commission to give us a path forward. The 2017 measure would generate a total of $17 million by the end of 2022. The City estimates residential and commercial energy bills will see charges of approximately $2-$4 per month over the next few years.

It’s been seven years since Boulder started the path to municipalization and now is not the time to quit. In the 75-year war for the planet in the face of climate change, taking control of our climate future through municipalization is the path forward. If citizens do not pass this Utility Occupation Tax, the possibility for the muni could be dead and we would most likely be unable to revisit the option for decades. With a federal government that insists on tearing down environmental regulations to prohibit further global warming we can’t be impatient or grow weary. This isn’t about money or politics. This is about climate change and the future of the planet. Boulder Weekly endorses measure 2L and the continuation of Boulder’s fight for a municipal utility.

Ballot Issue 2M City of Boulder 0.3 Cents Capital Improvement Tax Extension

For the Measure          

This measure extends the current 0.3 cents capital improvement tax for community, culture and safety projects that citizens voted for three years ago until the end of 2021. Advocates say this is building off the successful model from the previous tax, which gave us such projects as the theater improvement at the Dairy Arts Center, the Civic Center redesign, the planned and/or installed pedestrian lighting at Chautauqua, on the Hill and elsewhere, and other community improvements. The tax is set to expire at the end of 2017, but will fund all of the proposed projects from 2014 to the expected tune of $27 million. The next four years of revenue generated by the tax (estimated at $41 million) is slated to fund infrastructure projects such as relocating a fire station, building a full-service library in North Boulder, replacing the Scott Carpenter Pool and citywide radio infrastructure for safety, and improvements on the Fourmile Canyon greenway. It will also fund a matching grant program for area nonprofits that in many cases need City funds to continue community work. Organizations already designated to receive funding include Meals on Wheels, Community Cycles, KGNU and BMoCA, among others. Although some critics argue the capital improvement projects should be funded through developer fees, everyone realizes these are both necessary and pertinent projects to the City of Boulder. Looking ahead, there’s talk of creating a capital reserve fund in the City’s budget to fund such projects so as to avoid asking citizens for another tax extension in the future. Boulder Weekly supports 2M to fund these important projects for our community.

Ballot Issue 2N City of Boulder Debt Authority for Capital Improvement Tax

For the Measure              

This measure allows the City of Boulder to begin funding the infrastructure projects designated in 2M immediately by increasing the debt limit. When voters passed the first capital improvement tax in 2014, it was based on a “pay as you go” model, meaning that projects weren’t allowed to move forward until enough tax revenue had accrued to fund them. Some of the previous projects are still in the development stage awaiting the remaining tax funds that are expected by the end of the year. Moving forward with the new projects at the Fire Station, North Boulder library, Scott Carpenter Pool, citywide radio infrastructure and improvements to the Fourmile Greenway, the City wants to capture momentum and start working right away. This measure would allow the City to take on debt to do so and Boulder Weekly supports it.

Ballot Question 2O City of Boulder Charter Requirement for Vote Before Electric Construction Debt

For the Measure            

If passed, this measure would require a citizen vote before the City of Boulder could spend resources through issuing debt to acquire infrastructure and fund the startup of a municipal electric utility. City leaders have said they should have more clarity on how much this will cost in the next few years and expect to put the issue back to the citizens in 2019 or 2020 for final voter approval.

We’re not sure this vote is necessary, seeing as Boulder voters already approved the process for municipalization years ago. Holding another vote is just another opportunity for anti-muni forces both local and statewide to exert their influence and money in an effort to once again buy a “no” vote and kill the process. However, we understand this is part of the package to continue on the path toward municipalization and is a way to absolve any fear surrounding the issue currently. All votes on the muni are welcome and Boulder Weekly supports Ballot Question 20.

Ballot Question 2P City of Boulder Charter Provision Allowing Executive Sessions for Municipalization

Against the Measure

Ballot Question 2P asks the voters to extend permission granted to the City Council in 2014 to meet in executive session in order to discuss legal strategy related to advancing the City’s municipal electric utility. While the City Council is prohibited from meeting in executive session on any other issue, the 2014 measure was a temporary approval and is set to expire at the end of 2017. If passed, 2P would allow City Council to meet in executive session regarding municipalization through 2023, explicitly prohibiting the discussion of franchise agreements with Xcel. They would not be able to make decisions or take votes either.

Boulder Weekly has always argued against the use of executive session. We believe the public should have access to all discussions related to municipalization in order to engage in the conversation. The use of executive session doesn’t allow for the public or news media to analyze, offer advice or question the arguments being made on the City’s behalf.

Transparency in city government should be prioritized over the pretense of thinking we can catch Xcel by surprise. We’ve seen time and time again Xcel’s ability to anticipate and plan for every idea the City has thrown its way, regardless of the secrecy in which the legal strategy is devised. Plus, without executive session, Council members can meet in pairs with City staff to discuss anything, including legal strategy, and there’s no need for another level of secrecy. We don’t like that process either but we can’t stop that one.

We didn’t support the use of executive session in 2014 and we don’t support it still. Vote no on this one.

Ballot Question 2Q City of Boulder Charter Clean Up

Against the Measure

The City of Boulder Charter is the most important document in our home-rule town. It lays out the process by which we govern ourselves and embodies the values we hold dear. That being said, it’s been around for a while and Ballot Question 2Q claims that its aim is to simply clean up some of the language to help clarify certain charter sections. While most of the reasons for the cleanup seem routine (like removing obsolete provisions and eliminating irrelevant and conflicting timelines), some of the proposed changes to the timeline for the review process both surrounding citizen-initiated petitions and the signature verification on such petitions could cause significant changes in the way the process works. The proposed language would take away a set-response time for petitions from the City and instead allow “the time determined by the city manager, and if none is determined, the time provided by state law.” The City Attorney’s office says this is meant to prevent confusion between different timelines for different petition processes, as well as changes to state law for the benefit of the petitioners. However, critics argue it could allow the city manager to put unnecessarily long timelines on certain petitions or signature reviews, effectively killing a petition’s chance of making it to the ballot. We are in no way saying this is the intent behind the clean-up measure or that current city management would act in bad faith in this way. What we are saying is that changing the language in this manner could allow for future city managers the power to kill any proposed initiative by unreasonably drawing out the review timeline. Having a concrete timeline ensures a functioning petition process in Boulder. Boulder Weekly does not support 2Q.

CITY OF LONGMONT

Like most of the towns in Boulder County at this point, the citizens of Longmont are once again in the crosshairs of the oil and gas industry and must begin planning for the coming invasion. With hundreds of horizontal oil and gas wells now announced to be drilled and fracked in East Boulder County — including a few hundred on the southern edge of Longmont — it will be up to the City Council members elected this November to be proactive in their efforts to quickly protect the quality of life of Longmont residents.

There are multiple threats posed by oil and gas extraction in and around Longmont including air and water contamination, which numerous studies have found to be a danger to human health and the environment. While Longmont has placed some additional restrictions on drilling in our neighborhoods and the previous two Councils should be commended for that effort, there are further steps that should have already been taken to protect against future dangers such as deadly explosions like those that recently occurred in Firestone and Mead. Communities such as Erie and Lafayette are already taking steps to establish setbacks on oil and gas flow-lines and to require mapping of those lines in order to prevent future development from getting too close to them.

The COGCC, the state’s regulatory body for the oil and gas industry, has already stated that such additional regulations are within the control of local governments. So acting to establish such additional regulations will not conflict with the Colorado Supreme Court’s previous ruling which struck down Longmont’s fracking ban.

It is also possible under the law for city councils to establish setbacks that prohibit developers from building next to existing wells, production facilities and flow-lines. Current state regulations govern how close oil and gas operations can be to existing homes, schools and hospitals. But state regulations do not prevent developers from building structures dangerously close to existing oil and gas operations.

State regulators, following the Firestone tragedy that resulted from a home having been built almost on top of an old flow-line from a well located only a couple hundred feet away, made it clear that it is up to local governments to establish setbacks on developers to protect their citizens.

All of these new opportunities to establish legal and additional safety regulations on oil and gas extraction within Longmont city limits have been known since shortly after the Firestone tragedy. But so far, the majority on Council have failed to act on these sensible regulations choosing instead to operate as if the Supreme Court’s decision on the fracking ban was the end of the oil and gas discussion. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

The real push by the industry is only now upon Longmont, and the next four years may well determine the extent of the damage the industry will ultimately inflict on the community. The new Council will need to be ready to act fast and continue to think outside the box on this critical issue.

Another important issue facing voters in Longmont this year is water in the form of the Windy Gap Firming Project. We believe communities must have a vision beyond their own city limits. The Colorado River, which is the source of Windy Gap water, is already in crisis as too many people are already using too much of its water. Recent studies predict that the Colorado River will lose an additional 30 percent of its flow in coming years due to the impacts of climate change. Critics of the Windy Gap project — as well as Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir expansion project, which would also get its water from the Colorado’s northern drainage — believe it will hasten the ultimate destruction of this great western river. Current members of council and this year’s crop of candidates have very differing positions on this project. On one end of the spectrum there are those who would prefer to use conservation and technology to provide for Longmont’s future water needs. At the other end are elected officials and candidates who would prefer to take the maximum amount of water from the Colorado River even if the community doesn’t currently need it and the extra water might end up just being leased to other municipalities or entities. We will be doing additional reporting on this issue in coming weeks with more details.

And finally, growth, affordable housing, downtown development, the ongoing flood recovery efforts and homelessness will continue to be of major importance to Longmont’s future, as is making sure that the County’s largest Latino population is equitably represented in all of the City government’s decisions.

All these issues and concerns were weighed in BW’s endorsement process. We know, because a good number of our employees choose to call Longmont home, it is a much different community today than it was even a decade ago. And as such, we believe that the City Council of what will soon be Boulder County’s largest community should reflect today’s Longmont, not a vision of the town from days gone by. We have endorsed the candidates whom we believe best represent the views of the vast majority of current Longmont residents and whom we think are most capable of dealing with the critical issues we have mentioned above. If you don’t want to see a City Council that’s 20 years out of step with today’s Longmont, then we encourage you to vote this year for the candidates we’ve endorsed, and it doesn’t hurt to make sure your family and friends do the same.     

Mayor

Sarah Levison
Brian J. Bagley
Roger Lange

While each candidate for mayor has their own strengths, we believe that Sarah Levison is the right choice at this time.

Sarah Levison is a former two-term member of Council. She is generally highly regarded for her well-researched positions. She is an exhaustive researcher and reader, and will bring many well-thought-out ideas to the Council. She is pragmatic and patient when it comes to problem-solving, and she understands that Tuesday night on TV is not the time or place for Council members to air their dirty laundry. That is a quality that will serve the new Council well when she is mayor.

Levison helped pass Longmont’s first oil and gas regulations and defended the fracking ban. She initiated the City’s summer lunch program and has been an outspoken advocate for early childhood education. She also created RISE, Longmont’s anti-poverty program. In short, she accomplishes things that matter.

We believe that Levison is the best person to lead the Longmont Council as it confronts the important and complicated issues of an invading oil and gas industry; the environmental impacts of future growth and water needs; protecting Longmont’s cultural and economic diversity by addressing affordable housing and childcare, all while maintaining and expanding Longmont’s current economic growth and positive small business environment.

We’d be remiss not to point out that it was Brian Bagley who led the initial charge to challenge the state’s assumption that communities have no right to regulate oil and gas extraction within their city limits. As a result of his efforts, Bagley, a Republican at the time (he has since left the party following Trump’s election and is now unaffiliated) was persecuted by his own party as well as the oil and gas industry and its many supporting business organizations.

He deserves a good deal of credit for those efforts and for his tenacity in standing up to such powerful adversaries. But it should also be noted that he did not think the citizen-led fracking ban was a good idea although he did support the City’s defense of the ban all the way to the State Supreme Court. We don’t agree with his current stance on the Windy Gap Firming project (he wants to take the maximum amount of water), and we have not seen him pushing for the types of additional protections against oil and gas extraction that should’ve been pushed following the Firestone explosion. Bagley has two years left on his current term on Council so if he loses the mayoral race, he will still remain on Council for that period. Should he win, Longmont would need to hold a special election to fill the remainder of his current term.

Roger Lange is a former City Councilman and mayor. He’s well-liked by many folks regardless of their political persuasion. He believes one of his major strengths is his ability to bring people who disagree together in a civil fashion in order to get things done. He believes that the current Council, which has seen its share of contentious situations of late, needs that type of leadership and has been lacking the same the past few years.

Council Member At Large
(Vote for Two)

Aren Rodriguez
Cathy Jarrett
Ron Gallegos
Alex Sammoury 
Polly Christensen

Polly Christensen is the incumbent in this group of five candidates of which the top two vote getters will be elected to Council. Christensen came to Council during a wave of public concern over fracking. She has gained valuable experience over her first term and has done a good job in many important areas including her efforts to protect Longmont citizens from the threats posed by oil and gas extraction. We believe she has earned an additional term.

Aren Rodriguez really impressed us. His knowledge of land use issues, commitment to the environment and concern for maintaining Longmont’s economic and racial diversity make him a great fit for City Council. As a lifelong resident, he understands the many challenges currently facing Longmont. His time on Longmont’s Planning and Zoning Commission have not only informed his expertise, it has exposed Rodriguez as a true civil servant willing to stand up to the powers that be and industries that would run roughshod over the community if they had the opportunity. Electing Rodriguez would also give representation to a new generation on City Council, something badly needed and long overdo. We strongly endorse Aren Rodriguez and Polly Christensen for the two at-large seats on Council and believe that they are by far the best equipped candidates to tackle the important issues set out above.

As always, we appreciate the candidacy of Ron Gallegos who served on Council from 1995-1999 and has run for Council or mayor in nearly every election since. Ron’s ideas on rerouting U.S. 287 to create a downtown plaza and putting a high-end hotel along the river are creative and worthy of consideration. His commitment and service to the arts and Latino communities is to be commended as well. For that we give Gallegos an honorable mention.

Alex Sammoury served on Council from 2009-2013. While he is indeed an asset to the community on many fronts, we disagree with his position on Windy Gap, and do not believe that he is the best candidate to protect the health and quality of life of Longmont residents against the renewed threats posed by the oil and gas industry going forward.

Catherine Jarrett informed us that she does not believe that human activity is a contributing factor to climate change, which she believes is occurring as a natural cycle. She also believes that many of the scientists claiming that global warming is a threat do so because that is how they get their grant money.    

Council Member Ward 2

Marcia Martin
Jeff Moore

We found Marcia Martin to be an impressive candidate and well-informed on all of the critical issues currently confronting Longmont. She understands that Longmont is going to continue to grow but she strongly believes that growth should be planned and made to benefit the entire community. To put it in her words, if you work in Longmont you should be able to afford to live in Longmont. Martin is an environmentalist who understands the importance of getting the Windy Gap project right. We feel confident she would be a formidable leader when it comes to guarding Longmont’s quality of life and citizens’ health against the encroaching oil and gas industry. She believes that Longmont can, and should, be a place where green-minded companies come to grow. We think that Martin is the right leader for today’s Longmont and will make important contributions to the community’s future if elected.

Jeff Moore has done a commendable job during his term on Council and has worked hard to help the community recover from the flood of 2013. While we endorsed Moore in the last election and are pleased that we did, we believe that Marcia Martin is the best choice this time around to move Longmont forward at this critical juncture.

Ballot Issue 2H

Yes   

The city is asking voters to “approve a 0.255 percent increase to the existing public safety tax, increasing the current 0.325 percent public safety sales tax to 0.58 percent. This dedicated public safety sales tax will be used to hire more police officers, dispatchers, firefighters, and support staff and to purchase the equipment and facilities to provide public safety services.”

Longmont needs this additional support for its first responders because the community has grown by over 10,000 people in the past 10 years, while police and fire resources have not increased to support this growth.

There is no doubt Longmont has grown significantly in recent years and as a result we believe that citizens should pass this tax in order to fund more police and fire services for the community. While we believe that future growth should be made to pay its own way, this increase is needed for the growth that has already occurred. So vote yes.

Ballot Issue 2I

Yes  

This is a sin tax and as a rule, we are not big on sin taxes. Why should purchasers of legal marijuana be expected to pay a tax to support affordable housing when beer drinkers aren’t being forced to be equally civic-minded? Remember that this whole legalized pot thing was passed on the premise of pot being treated like alcohol.

That said, the City of Longmont says, “Half of the proceeds of the 3 percent marijuana tax will be used for licensing, inspection an public safety services related to retail sales of marijuana.” The other half will be used for funding  affordable housing.

Longmont has approved four stores to sell marijuana. Because we think that affordable housing is still possible in Longmont due to its lack of growth limits, and we have no information at hand at this point that would cause us not to trust the City with regard to its claimed need for revenue to keep an eye on these four new stores, we are willing to go along with the city’s request this time around. Vote yes.

Ballot Question 2J

No

CLARIFICATION 10/18/17: The above graph was provided by EPA staff during a February 2016 meeting. For clarification, the flows shown in the graph are accurate and the graph also shows which water diversion projects were initiated during which years. The overall declines in flow, however, can not be attributed solely to the diversion projects shown. These projects were contributors to the declines but were not responsible for the overall declines.

We laid out some of the basic arguments for our opposition to this ballot question in our overview of Longmont. And as noted, we will be offering a more complete explanation for our opposition in the coming weeks. But for now, we offer this brief further explanation.

As you can see from the graphic above — the information of which comes from the Environmental Protection Agency — the Colorado River is in trouble. The Front Range’s irresponsible use of Colorado River water (much of it goes for watering lawns) now threatens the very existence of the river. Over the years, one water diversion project after another has radically decreased the river’s flow at its source tributaries and lakes. The Windy Gap Firming Project will drop the river to approximately 17 percent of its historic flows in Northern Colorado, and researchers claim that global warming will lower the river’s flow an additional one-third in coming years. That means that the Colorado River will have lost 90 percent of its historical flows coming out of the Colorado’s northern mountains if this project goes forward at a time of climate change.

Front Range communities, including Longmont, have to be more responsible than this. And it’s not just the river that’s being damaged. Grand Lake, Colorado’s largest natural lake that sits on the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, used to have 100 feet of clarity, on par with other great mountain bodies of water like Lake Tahoe. But today, thanks to the backwards diversion of water to the Front Range, Grand Lake has only 10 feet of clarity and its boat docks are often sitting in the mud hundreds of feet from the water’s edge. The further draining of the Colorado River also risks the likelihood of a “compact call” by down-river water users that would endanger all water-rights holders in the state of Colorado. In other words, if Longmont and other Front Range communities get too greedy in their quest for a larger share of the Colorado River, they could end up with less, not more, water.

Another fact too often lost in the Windy Gap Firming Project debate is the real cost in dollars and cents. Sure you are being asked to float bonds and money up another $36 million but that’s not even half of it, literally. The second largest participant in the Windy Gap Firming Project is the Platte River Power Authority (PRPA). They want the additional water to use at the company’s Rawhide coal-fired power plant. Not only would the Firming Project harm the Colorado River, it would be doing so to further the use of dirty coal as a source for power generation. And get this, PRPA has already raised your electric rates and floated revenue bonds to cover its approximate $40 million investment in the Project. That’s right, you are taxing yourself to pay back Longmont’s share and are paying off bonds and higher electric bills to pay for PRPA’s share. Nobody told you that part.

But more importantly, the Windy Gap Firming Project is not necessary. Technology and better water policies can provide all the water Longmont needs for its future growth and that doesn’t cost a dime. Consider this factoid: Despite the area being served by Denver Water having experienced massive growth — more than 10 percent since just 2002 — it now consumes 22 percent less water than it did 15 years ago. That’s right, Front Range communities can grow rapidly while actually reducing the amount of water they need thanks to smart water policies and technological advancements.

For those reasons and more, Boulder Weekly strongly encourages a “no” vote on 2J. Why pay more for the privilege of further destroying the Colorado River when it’s not necessary to do so? 

Ballot Question 2K

Shall Municipal Judge Robert J. Frick be retained in office for two (2) years?

Yes 

Judge Frick was appointed in 2016 to serve out the remaining term of retiring Judge Diana VanDeHey. By all accounts he has done a good job over the last year, so we are urging a yes vote on his retention.

CITY OF LAFAYETTE

Lafayette has been a leader on a number of critical issues that affect Boulder County at large: in the fight against oil and gas extraction, for sensible growth, for increased access to public transportation and for expanded use of solar energy. Not every pursuit has worked according to plan (a voter-approved fracking ban in 2012 was tossed out by a Boulder District Court judge in 2014; last year, citizens voted down a ballot initiative that would have provided all city residents with a regional RTD pass), but City Council has always returned to the drawing board to refine their game plan (earlier this year, Council approved a Climate Bill of Rights that demands a legal right to a “healthy climate” devoid of fracking; this summer, the City, along with Louisville, used a grant from RTD to provide a number of residents with pre-loaded regional RTD passes).

The aforementioned issues made up the brunt of our talks with Lafayette City Council candidates. Their adamant support for, prioritization of and detailed opinions on these matters — and related issues that affect the quality of life in Lafayette — drove our endorsements.

It should be mentioned that, for the first time, every candidate for Lafayette City Council claims to oppose oil and gas extraction in city limits, an issue that is, in the face of climate change and human health concerns, paramount to not only Boulder County but communities around the nation.

In fact, many candidates supported all of the issues we found most pressing, though each had nuanced answers and some presented more detailed plans for implementing them in the future.

We also factored in candidates’ previous civic engagement, whether in Lafayette or elsewhere, their commitment to developing a diverse community, and their stances on this year’s five ballot measures. We also wanted candidates whom we believe can work well with each other to better serve the community, an important quality considering the many complicated challenges facing the City.

Lafayette, like all of Boulder County, has a growing population. To preserve the character of Lafayette, voters approved the town’s first growth-limiting legislation in 1995, limiting growth within City limits to a maximum of 3 percent per year for six years. A total of 1,200 building permits are allowed in the six-year-period. The amendment has been extended by voters ever since. Voters will have the chance to approve this measure again this November, with an amendment that would allow City Council to exceed the number of permits allocated for developments that make at least 40 percent of their residential units permanently affordable (allowing citizens with household incomes less than or equal to 80 percent of the then-current Boulder County area median income to purchase or rent the property).

As communities in Boulder County search for ways to preserve natural beauty and maintain small-town character while still providing affordable housing options that help retain diversity, Lafayette is attacking the issue with a growth management plan we believe warrants support from the City Council and the community at large.

This growth has also led to traffic congestion in Lafayette as many people move through the town on their way in and out of Boulder for work. We favor candidates who seek to address this problem in a number of ways, not least of which includes increased access to public and alternative transportation.

The City of Lafayette has been a strong supporter of the shift from greenhouse-gas-producing fuels to renewable energy sources, particularly solar. According to the City website, Lafayette “averages ten new solar permits a month and its solar permitting fees are 76 percent lower than the national average.” Residents are eligible for a $500 discount from participating solar installers as a result of Lafayette’s certification as a Solar Friendly Community. We support candidates who prioritize this push toward renewable fuel sources, and those who have extensive experience in developing and implementing sustainability programs and technologies.

And it goes without saying, but we strongly support candidates who prioritize taking all steps to prevent oil and gas extraction in their community.

The Lafayette Council consists of seven members who are elected on a non-partisan basis in odd-numbered years. Terms are staggered as four seats must be filled each election year. The three Council candidates with the most votes serve four-year terms and the fourth receives a two-year term.

It was very hard to choose between the many excellent candidates running in Lafayette, but here are our choices.

Council Candidates
(Vote for not more than Four (4))

Jamie Harkins
Gustavo Reyna
Andrew J. O’Connor
Cliff Smedley
Michael Daniels
Dana Kusjanovic
Jarrett Tishmack
Brian Wong
Chelsea Behanna
Allen Bishop
Richard Welty
JD Mangat
Merrily Mazza
John William Watson

As stated above, the City of Lafayette has been a leader on important issues, and as such, we feel it makes sense to retain those Council members who have helped implement those measures and who hope to build on those successes.

Gustavo Reyna was elected in November 2013. He serves on the Cultural Arts Commission, Youth Advisory Committee and One Lafayette Board. He is currently the mayor pro tem. In our discussion with Reyna, he said growth management was the biggest issue facing Lafayette as it creates obstacles in creating affordable housing, which in turn creates obstacles in retaining a diverse population in the community. Retaining working class, single-parent families, as well as creating a community in which the elderly can age in place were motivating factors in Reyna’s desire to build affordable housing in the city. As a Council member, he has facilitated the City’s purchase of land near the eastern edge of town (formerly owned by Flatirons Church) to create approximately 400 permanently affordable residencies.

He also prioritized community rights in managing oil and gas extraction. Reyna, along with fellow Council member Merrily Mazza, presented the Climate Bill of Rights at a Jan. 3 meeting. “This is a historic moment where people are being pinned against their will to accept the denigration of their environment in order to serve someone else’s profits,” he said at the meeting. “We are finding a way to create a hopeful place.”

Reyna is also focused on “supporting and sustaining … an economic base of mostly locally owned small businesses that reflect the core values of our community as opposed to large business development.” This, to Reyna, preserves “the character” of Lafayette as a small community. To this end, he has also worked to include modifications to the City building codes for Olde Town Lafayette, “to ensure that our housing remains true to the character of the city,” such as allowing “no large homes that are out of scale. When you look at those elements together, [this addresses] how do we keep the character of Lafayette as a livable, high-quality, small place not totally engulfed by rapid development?”

Reyna has also been involved in leadership opportunities for youth. “Although Boulder County is a wealthy county, East Boulder County and Lafayette specifically are home to underserved youth,” he said in our interview.

Inarguably, no one on Council has been more vocal about the need to prioritize the eradication of oil and gas development within Lafayette city limits than Merrily Mazza. She, with Reyna, brought the Climate Bill of Rights to Council in January, but she watched the bill lose a clause that would have provided unprecedented protection for those who engage in civil disobedience. “Still,” she said during an interview, “It’s a ban and it passed. Now we’re going to have to do something with it.”

Mazza believes the City’s current growth management plan is “sensible,” and the exemption for affordable housing is critical. She supported and worked with Council to facility the purchase of land from Flatirons Church to develop affordable housing. She has a desire to create a more inclusive Lafayette, which she says is partially achieved through affordable housing. She is interested in preserving mobile home parks and incorporating more accessory dwellings.

Mazza sits on the RTD FasTracks committee because she believes in the expansion of public transportation to make it more accessible. She hopes to put before Council a refined measure to provide Lafayette citizens a free regional RTD pass (citizens shot the measure down last year).

She’s a “big proponent” of Lafayette’s Downtown Vision Plan that has ultimately kept big-box stores out of downtown and made the area more walkable. She believes that Lafayette is going to have to see more density in order to not only create more affordable housing, but to bring in “new blood, new people, new activity” that makes the city vibrant and contributes to new small businesses.

Chelsea Behanna was appointed to Council last summer after Tim Dowling resigned. She was chosen by City Council from a pool of seven final candidates based on her responses on how to handle affordable housing, encourage diversity in public service and integrate into the current Council.

Behanna is the principal at Rocky Top Middle School in Thornton.

Behanna is passionate about renewable energy. As a member of the Sustainability Advisory Committee, she’s helped bring more electric-vehicle charging stations to Lafayette, and helped the City partner with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. She wants to create a workable plan to get Lafayette to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. She’s a steering committee member for Colorado Communities for Climate Action, an environmental lobbying group.

She is committed to keeping oil and gas extraction out of the community; she has been advocating for larger setbacks as a principal concerned about increased fracking near schools. She supports civil disobedience.

Affordable housing is an issue near to Behanna’s heart. When she, her mother and brother moved to Colorado in 1980, Behanna says they lived in a KOA campground until their mother could find an affordable rental on a teacher’s salary. She has been a part of efforts to bring more affordable housing into Lafayette, including the purchase of the land from Flatirons Church that will create some 400 affordable dwelling units.

She advocates strongly for increased access to public transportation and wants to continue to push RTD to “revamp” the intersection at 120th and Highway 7.

Jamie Harkins describes herself as a “community servant through and through.” She has worked as a sustainability coordinator for the City of Boulder for eight years developing policy and programs, planning projects and pilot projects around energy efficiency, renewable energy, innovative climate solutions and zero waste.

She describes herself as a “big believer in things that were initiated by voters,” so she supports the growth management extension plan. However, she wants Council to focus on not only maintaining those restrictions but asking how development contributes to the community. She says there are places where denser housing makes sense, and places it doesn’t. She wants growth to create diverse and eclectic neighborhoods that strengthen Lafayette, avoiding gentrification in the face of develoment.

She supports what the City is currently doing with the affordable housing program but believes there is “so much more we can do outside of that specific program. We need to engage in creative thinking around accessory units, tiny homes. We need more solutions for the middle class.”

Harkins is “a huge advocate for alternative transportation,” and ran the campaign for the citywide EcoPass (that failed to garner majority support last year). She believes in more bus stops, shorter bus routes and better bike infrastructure that connects the west side of the city to the east.

Harkins was an accredited profession for the EcoDistrict out of Portland. EcoDistrict is a movement to create scalable solutions to challenges facing city officials: income, education and health disparities; blight and ecological degradation; the growing threat of climate change; and rapid urban growth. She hopes to bring that experience to City Council.

Ballot Issue 2A Open Space Tax Extension

Yes 

The City’s ability to purchase open space made possible the recent acquisition of the Mayhoffer Farm (an effort to stave off large-scale residential growth and possible fracking operations). This measure simply extends the City’s current sales and use tax earmarked for acquisition of open space. Vote yes on 2A.

Ballot Issue 2B Storage Tax

No

This measure would impose a 3.5 percent tax on those who rent indoor or outdoor storage units and on those who sell storage services. While the money would be used to “promote and advance” cultural arts, historic preservation and local history museums, we see this tax as a form of “sin” tax: one section of the community is being taxed to support amenities and programs the entire community enjoys. In other words, any tax to support the arts should be applied to the whole community. Vote no on 2B.

Ballot Issue 2C Street Improvement Revenue Bonds

Yes  

A measure to improve and repair City roads and public parking lots and install safety and traffic devices with no increase in taxes. Vote yes on 2C.

Ballot Question 2D Compensation of Mayor and Councilors

Yes  

This measure allows City Council compensation to increase or decrease proportionally to the salaries of other City employees. We have written in the past that city councils should receive substantive salaries to ensure more civic engagement and a broader diversity of representatives. While this isn’t such a measure, it does prevent Council from arbitrarily increasing their salaries, and most likely ensures that Council salaries will increase over time.

Ballot Question 2E Residential Growth Management

Yes  

As discussed in the introduction to Lafayette, this growth plan not only prevents runaway development that can destroy the character of a town, run out small businesses and accelerate the inflation of housing costs, it also provides a way for the city to prioritize developments that reserve at least 40 percent of their residential units for affordable housing. Vote yes on 2E.

CITY OF LOUISVILLE

City Council Person Ward 1
Chris Leh (uncontested)

City Council Person Ward II
Jeff Lipton (uncontested)

City Council Person Ward III
Ashley Stolzmann (uncontested)

Ballot Issue 2F Historic Preservation Tax Extension

Yes 

History and culture add richness to a city center, and a vote for extending the Historic Preservation Tax for another 10 years will help ensure the protection and longevity not only of Louisville’s Historic Old Town, but other sites deemed historic around the city and Louisville’s Historical Museum.

This 0.125 percent tax was originally voted into effect in 2008, and the funds accrued have since been supporting the Historic Preservation Fund Grants, used exclusively on historic preservation projects and purposes within Historic Old Town Louisville, the city’s cultural epicenter, and projects at the museum.

Given the success of past residential and commercial historic preservation projects like the Louisville Grain Elevator, extending the parameters of the tax to include projects outside Historic Old Town Louisville (each of which would be contingent on a City Council super majority vote) and increased aid to the Louisville Historical Museum, would share the richness of cultural heritage throughout town.

Ballot Question 2G Broadband Question Factual Statement

Yes  

In 2005, the Colorado legislature passed Senate Bill 152. This requires local governments to secure voter approval before entering into “the broadband business,” limiting high-speed internet service to private companies. Thus, at this time, the City of Louisville is not allowed to create or provide its own broadband network service to its residents.

Seeing as access to high-speed, reliable and affordable internet is nothing short of a requirement for growth in today’s marketplace, some describe broadband services as “essential services” that should be treated in the same vein as water, sewer or electricity services, which most local governments do own and operate.

Due to the limited choice of broadband providers, these existing providers have few incentives to provide the more affordable and higher-speed services that might otherwise exist in a more competitive environment. At this time, the City has no plans to create a public broadband utility, but passing this measure would at least allow the City to maximize its best options for meeting the broadband needs of residents, like free Wi-Fi in libraries and public spaces, and more affordable, efficient and environmentally responsible broadband services.

BOULDER COUNTY BALLOT ISSUES

County Issue 1A: Worthy Cause 0.05% Countywide Sales and Use Tax Extension

Yes 

This sales and use tax was first passed in 2000. Since, it’s been extended several times, and voting yes this year would extend the tax for 15 years. Revenue from the tax is used for Boulder County nonprofit agencies’ capital needs; the recipients are determined by the County Commissioners. Within the first three years of the fund, $2 million will be allocated to permanently affordable housing; $600,000 will go to senior and aging services; and $900,000 will go to new and expanded mental health programs. Vote yes.

County Question 1B: Sheriff Term Limit Extension to Five Terms

Yes  

This ballot question is and isn’t about current Sheriff Joe Pelle. Voting yes on 1B would allow any Boulder County sheriff to serve five terms, but the argument made for changing the rules are tied to Pelle himself.

In 1994, Colorado voters amended the state constitution, putting term limits on most state and local offices. But according to that statute, voters in a given municipality can vote to modify or eliminate term limits. In 2005, Boulder County voters extended the sheriff’s limits to three terms. In 2011, they extended the limits to four terms.

What we wish this ballot question were asking is “Do you want to eliminate term limits for the sheriff’s position?” because by extending it every few years, we’re defeating the purpose of term limits.

That said, the principle of the matter is not greater than the value Pelle brings to the office. It’s an office responsible for 400 employees and a $29 million budget, and Pelle oversees everything from the County jail to the drug task force to emergency management. It’s a career position, and if the right person is filling it, he or she should be able to be elected so long as voters agree.

Pelle is working to reduce overcrowding at the County jail, advocating for better mental health services and righteously came out against a law requiring law enforcement to report certain people to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

So, vote yes, but also let’s scrap the whole idea of term limits for this office next time.

County Question 1C: Authorization to Provide Broadband Service

Yes 

Senate Bill 152 was passed by the Colorado legislature in 2005, prohibiting local governments from providing their citizens broadband services without a public vote. You can imagine the effort private broadband internet service providers put in to see that passed, and when Longmont made their push to go public, the industry funneled in hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat it. Longmont won.

Since, several communities, including Boulder, Lafayette, Superior and the Boulder Valley School District have passed measures that would allow their communities to explore public broadband. This ballot question simply gets Boulder County over that first public approval hurdle so that it can one day consider providing public broadband in areas throughout the County. The County has no public fiber network and no current plans to create a broadband utility, but again, this vote merely provides for the exploration of such services.

County Issue 5A: Burgundy Park Improvement District of Boulder County Mill Levy Increase, Multiple-Fiscal Year Obligation Authorization and Formation

Yes  

The Burgundy Park neighborhood in Niwot is in need of repairs. County roads within the neighborhood need resurfacing, sidewalks need improvement, and other pieces of vital infrastructure need maintenance. The initial work is estimated to cost about $548,000, with total costs of close to $1 million over 20 years.

The neighborhood knows this, and so after looking at all their options, they’ve worked with the County to put on the ballot a measure that would create an improvement district.

If approved, the County will pay 30 percent of the improvements, and will loan the remaining 70 percent to the newly formed Burgundy Park Improvement District, which will be repaid via this mill levy. Homes will be charged $119.50 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Residents can opt out with approval from the County, but to be fair, such a request is unlikely to be granted.

Given that Burgundy Park residents have already considered most other options, and that it’ll only be Burgundy Park residents voting to create this, we say vote yes.

BOULDER VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT

The Boulder Valley School District Board of Education has had quite the year. There has been community outcry about the lack of transparency over the termination of the former superintendent last spring and a large settlement with a former administrator related to his termination. There’s a pending lawsuit over air quality concerns in district buildings and questions have been raised over administrator salaries, stolen bond funds and most recently the achievement gap, as new data shows the district has the widest disparity in the state based on race, a title the district shares with Denver. All of this makes for an important and interesting school board race.

District B incumbent Christina (Tina) Marquis is running unopposed for her seat but the current Boulder Valley Directors in District E and F are term-limited and a new batch of candidates will inherit these issues if elected.

The next board has some serious considerations and decisions to make within the next year, including hiring the next superintendent in spring 2018. The new board will also be tasked with negotiating the next teachers contract with the Boulder Valley Education Association (BVEA) and with making several policy changes to align the district with state law. Another priority will be making sure that the district’s $400 million budget is managed in a sustainable fashion. And we believe the new board must be far more transparent and honest with the community than it has been over the past few years. This is crucial to moving the district forward.  In order to do all of this effectively, Boulder Weekly values a board with diverse viewpoints and priorities. While some have criticized the former board as “dysfunctional,” we believe healthy debate and disagreement is essential to responsible management of the district. It’s when the board is in lockstep that the larger problems occur. That said, here are our endorsements.

Boulder Valley School RE-2 Director District B (4 Years)
Christina Marquis (uncontested)

Boulder Valley School RE-2 Director District E (4 Years)

Donna Miers
Raj Rawat
Dean Vlachos

Given the above considerations we are endorsing Donna Miers for District E. Miers just retired from BVSD this past May after more than 30 years within the district working as a teacher and administrator. She has served a variety of students including those in Special Education and English Language Learners. She was a member of BVEA for decades, understands state law and funding shortfalls, and has concrete plans to close the achievement gap, including creating a common assessment program and focusing on reading proficiency. Her experience will bring a teacher’s voice to the board, one which it currently lacks. We acknowledge her husband, Tom Miers, currently holds the District E seat and is term-limited. However, we believe Donna Miers is an independent thinker and will ask the hard questions about the budget, raise concerns when she has them and bring a diversity of opinion to the board moving forward.

Boulder Valley School RE-2 Director District F (4 years)

Kitty Sargent
Alexandra Eddy

For the District F seat, Boulder Weekly endorses Kitty Sargent. Sargent also was a teacher, albeit 30 years ago. Since then, however, she has worked as a social worker in child abuse prevention and volunteered with BVSD to develop health curriculum and with the Safe Schools Coalition. She’s a strong proponent for early childhood development, including more preschools and full-day kindergartens throughout the district and wants to strengthen neighborhood schools. She has experience with conflict resolution and seeks to bring reconciliation after the events of the spring, not by ignoring what happened but through increased communication with the community. She takes the board’s role of not just selecting but supervising the next superintendent seriously and believes a diversity of opinions makes for a healthy board.

Sargent’s opponent, Alexandra Eddy would bring a student’s perspective to the board as a recent graduate of BVSD. While we admire her passion and drive, we question her limited experience with the complex issues facing the Board of education. Regardless, we are confident her dedication will lead her to serve our community in some way in the future.

THOMPSON SCHOOL DISTRICT

Thompson School R2-J Director District B 4 Year Term (Vote for One)

Paul Bankes (uncontested) 

This race is uncontested, but we like Paul Bankes anyway. After the bitter politics of 2015’s Thompson School Board race. (Several Koch brothers-affiliated candidates tried to sweep into the district and flip it to achieve conservative school reform measures. They failed.), Bankes wants to eliminate the politics that were brought into the district, while also focusing on attracting teachers to the district, if not through increased salaries, through comparable quality of life benefits such as professional development, better working environments and more.

Thompson School R2-J Director District E 4 Year Term (Vote for One)

Lori Hvizda Ward (uncontested)

This race is uncontested, but we want to take this opportunity to say we support Lori Hvizda Ward. An incumbent, Hvizda Ward has a track record of supporting teachers, and her steadiness has helped carry the board through several tumultuous years.

Thompson School R2-J Director District F 4 Year Term
(Vote for One)

Barbara Kruse
Lynn Greer (Certified Write-In Candidate)

There are two good choices in the only Thompson School Board district to have a contested election. Barbara Kruse worked for 30 years as a teacher in the district, and now teaches educators as an adjunct professor at the University of Northern Colorado. However, we endorse Lynn Greer.

Greer’s knowledge on a variety of issues, and a comprehensive set of proposed solutions, is what sets her apart. Greer believes the board has a duty to rebuild trust with the community after the political divide of the last election. Rebuilt trust will allow the district to pass the necessary bond or mill levy override to pay teachers, which she says are leaving for more lucrative pay in surrounding districts. Greer says she has the experience necessary to work with teachers to come up with solutions that will keep them in the district, and her experience working with faculty and the local teachers’ union in the past are both assets.

Critical needs of the district include a new high school east of the interstate and an effort to consolidate schools where population has shifted — a move that will not result in teachers losing their jobs, she ensures. Working closely with the Board in recent years provides Greer day-one skills to push initiatives and come up with effective solutions. So take that extra 10 seconds and write in her name.

ESTES PARK SCHOOL DISTRICT

Estes Park R-3 School Director At Large (4-Year Term)
(Vote for No More than Two)

Laura Case (uncontested)
Danielle Wolf (uncontested)

Ballot Issue 3A Estes Park School District R-3

Yes  

Funds were depleted in the Estes Park School District reserve during the Great Recession. A mill levy override intended to make up the loss was defeated in 2013. This measure would provide the funds lost in the recession and denied by voters in 2013, providing about $1 million annually to maintain good credit standing for the District. Vote yes.

FOUR MILE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

Ballot Issue 5B

Yes  

The fire district says it needs an additional $175,000 a year in taxpayer money in order to adequately do its job. Even as this is being written, wildfires burning in California have destroyed more than 1,500 homes and killed more than a dozen people. Global warming means more fires and flooding on the Front Range as well in coming years. Translation: We think it’s a good idea to give the fire district what it needs to keep residents in its area of operation safe. Vote yes.

  • Da Cashman

    Good recommendations, but questionable about Longmont’s water measure. The measure is to be more efficient with our water. Right now tons of water gets spilled out and never used. So it’s even more wasted than if it went to watering lawns, which at least has the benefit of creating greenhouse gas eating grass and looking nice. This measure makes it easier to store more water. That said, I appreciate the concern for global warming and drought, and I really love most of your endorsement, especially for Longmongt’s municipal races and Boulder County’s ballot measures.

  • TR

    I disagree with the recommendation to vote yes on 2E for residential growth management in Lafayette. This will actually override the current growth management rules and result in an increase in allowable development. The existing growth management plan should be kept in place and allowed to expire in 2019.

  • stilettogirl

    What I would like Lafayette voters to know about 2E is that the Growth Management Amendment renewal question is being brought back a year early so that they can tie it to a request for additional permit exemptions, so if you vote for renewal of the GMA this year, you must also vote to increase the number of exempted permits, not just by the 40% of a development allocated to affordable housing, but it would also exempt the remaining 60% of market value units. Affordable housing is very important to us, but there are a number of ways to get those units built without unnecessarily accelerating the rate of overall development in our city. One more very important note, if 2E is defeated, the GMA will return on next year’s ballot with a clean yes or no vote on it, without being inextricably tied to a request for more exemptions to the growth cap we keep struggling to enforce. In the mean time, the GMA would live on without interruption.

  • Mark

    Lafayette 2A – extend open space tax indefinitely, as in make it permanent!? Uh, how about no.

  • Mark

    County Question 1B: Sheriff Term Limit Extension to Five Terms – just because the current occupant is popular is not a good enough reason to permanently change the rules just to keep that occupant in office.

  • Aaron Hendrikson

    It’s worth mentioning that even though Donna Miers was a teacher in BVSD, the BVEA (the teacher’s association) is not endorsing her. The BVEA endorsement went to Dean Vlachos. If you are a teacher, know one, or value their professional judgment, you should support Dean Vlachos for school board!

  • Alexandra

    I have my doubts on how they picked the Boulder country candidates. These people have so many ads out, I wish Boulder Weekly had given us more insight on the other candidates so we know that the news company didn’t get lots of money for endorsing said candidates. I’ve seen these names on all the ads and feel like I know nothing of the others. I’ll continue my research for Boulder County candidates elsewhere. Thank you for your insight.