Incoming! Four fresh faces will join Boulder City Council and help decide who becomes mayor

Four fresh faces will join Boulder City Council and help decide who becomes mayor

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After all the door-knocking, text messages, yard signs, flyers and mailers, forums, op-eds, sign-waving, and glad-handing, you thought the election was over, didn’t ya?

For you and I and every registered voter except the nine Boulder City Council members, five of whom will be sworn in on Tuesday, November 16. More on those five in a moment, but first a glance at the political intrigue—another election!—happening internally with the imminent council of nine.

One of those nine will be chosen as mayor—Boulder has a weak mayoral system, where council members choose from among themselves who will hold the honorific and the few responsibilities it entails: representing Boulder in regional and state gatherings of mayors, and running the council meetings. 

Although in 2023 Boulder voters will elect the mayor themselves using ranked voting, as decided by the electorate in the 2020 election, that mayor will still simply function as another council member, albeit with a few more administrative responsibilities (but no more power than their peers).

Council members Aaron Brockett and Bob Yates, both of whom are midway through their terms, each announced their desire for their associates to vote them into the role at an imminent council meeting. (We believe the smart money is on Brockett, given the makeup of the new council.)

Sitting council members Junie Joseph and Rachel Friend will be rejoined by incumbent Mark Wallach, who slid onto the council in sixth place in 2019, but in this year’s election was number one with a bullet. “I’m not quite sure how to interpret it,” Wallach told Boulder Weekly, “but it’s gratifying.”

Lauren Folkerts wasn’t confident she’d end up as one of the council members being sworn in on November 16. On Tuesday night and into Wednesday’s vote count returns, it didn’t look like Folkerts, one of the candidates supported by Boulder Progressives and the Coalition, would make the cut to join the council and have a vote on Boulder’s next mayor. As Boulder Weekly went to press last week, Folkerts wasn’t in the top five.

But late vote counts put Folkerts in the winners circle, along with two other candidates backed by Boulder Progressives and the Coalition: Nicole Speer and Matt Benjamin. “I think that we have an incredibly strong group of people that will be on council and that we can do really great things for our community,” Folkerts told Boulder Weekly. “Beyond the slate idea, I think it’s a group of really smart, caring individuals.”

This was the second council run for Matt Benjamin—he lost in 2017—but Benjamin intends to come out strong in the new council. “The snail’s pace of action that has defined Boulder for a long time—I think that time has come to an end, and Boulder wants to move forward with things quickly, because we have issues that require urgency.”

Nicole Speer, another member of the Boulder Progressives slate, is similarly motivated to get down to business, she told BW. “I am eager to move on from [campaigning] and into actually getting some changes made and work done for our city—particularly as we’re heading into winter and things are getting colder and we don’t have severe weather sheltering in place [for the unhoused].”

Tara Winer was the one non-incumbent on the opposing slate put forward by Forward Boulder and PLAN-Boulder (who also backed Wallach, the incumbent). She sees the perceived split—which is honestly imaginary outside of financial backing, as none of the slates are political parties that hew to platforms—as somewhat divisive, as council members largely have the same goals, even if they disagree on how to accomplish them.

“If young and old work together, which is what our council is going to be, then we can take the excitement of the young people and the thoughtful looking-at-the-big-picture and unintended consequences of the older people, and if you put that together, a lot gets done.”