Welcome to the CU Independent’s 2019 City of Boulder election guide. Below you can find a list of candidates running for city council as well as information on state-wide propositions and city ballot measures.
How to vote and when:
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. Ballots must be cast before 7 p.m. to be counted. Registered voters can either send in their mail ballot, drop off their ballot at a 24-hour dropbox or cast a ballot in person at a Voting Service and Polling Center.
Below is a list of all four 24-hour Ballot Drop Boxes:
- Broadway and Iris Avenue in Boulder
- 2025 14th Street in Boulder
- 1669 Euclid Avenue (located outside on the sidewalk south of the building, closest to Euclid Street entrance of the building)
- 1360 Gillaspie Drive in Boulder
Voters can also cast their ballot at the University Memorial Center’s Voting Service and Polling Center located in rooms 382–386. Operating hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays. Hours will be expanded to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Know the candidates:
There are 15 candidates running for six available seats on Boulder City Council. The CUI reached out to all candidates, whose responses are included below. Candidates Aaron Brocket, Andy Celani, Gala Wilhemina Orba, Susan Peterson and Bob Yates did not respond to requests.
Aaron Brockett is running for reelection and has served on city council since 2015. He has lived in Boulder for 13 years and served on the Boulder Planning Board from 2011 to 2015.
Brockett has proposed a transportation mobility fee for residential and commercial properties that would be based on the amount of traffic each property generated. This money, Brockett said, can be used to improve roadway maintenance, safety and increase transit service.
He wants to focus on building housing along transit corridors to provide as many people as possible with access to public transportation.
Andy Celani has lived in Boulder for 44 years and has owned and operated two businesses, Smooth Motors and Andy’s Towing.
Celani has been critical of Boulder’s Transportation Master Plan, an investment of about $200 million annually. The plan looks to enhance safety for pedestrians on the road and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while distancing the city from its reliance on the Regional Transportation District. Celani would rather see an accelerated timeline of RTD’s proposed rail line from Denver to Boulder and Longmont.
He supports proprietary taxes on Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks. Celani is also open to charging vehicles that use open space as a source for money toward open space repairs.
Paul Cure is a businessman who has lived in Boulder for 26 years. He is the co-founder of Cure Organic Farm and owner of Mea Culpa Productions. He is the vice president of Historic Boulder and a Conference on World Affairs committee member.
Cure’s top priority is to implement Boulder Bucks, a currency initiative wherein shoppers donate 1% of the value of purchases to their choice of the arts, Boulder open space or transportation. Cure says this would provide funding for local needs without a tax increase.
He also wants to see the construction of Alpine-Balsam community hub move to a private/public partnership, with the land being leased on a 99-year term allowing for the city to excuse itself from being in the development business and concentrate on funding sources over the long term.
“I want to see things move forward, but I want them to move forward and evolve in a considerate way from where we have been,” Cure said.
When asked why students should vote for him, Cure said he is “dedicated to including students in the process of city council.”
Brian Dolan has lived in Boulder for 41 years and owns his own business, High Altitude Motors. He is a volunteer organizer for TEDxBOULDER and co-president of Share-A-Gift, a non-profit providing children of low-income families with holiday gifts.
A priority for Dolan is managing Boulder’s ever-increasing growth and development in “smart, strategic ways.”
“No city can remain static, but development needs to result in real benefits to the community such as the creation of parks, higher percentage of affordable housing and better social services,” Dolan said.
He wants to protect open space in Boulder, which he said is experiencing “wear and tear” as the city’s population increases. Dolan also wants more affordable housing for our low- and middle-income residents, especially for civil servants such as educators and first responders.
“I want to make sure all voices in the community are heard when it comes to citywide decisions,” Dolan said. “This includes the CU student community.”
Benita Duran has lived in Boulder for 26 years and has worked for the city for nine years and served for several years as the assistant Boulder City Manager. She is currently a Boulder Community Health board member.
The key issues Duran is hoping to tackle are housing attainability, good governance and accountability, environmental sustainability, economic and fiscal health, and transportation and mobility funding. She said she wants to rebalance the city’s budget.
“I believe we can prove and save money and time by taking a closer look at how the city does business and what we can do more efficiently to cut red tape,” Duran said.
As a graduate of CU and the mother of a college student, Duran said she has a “sensitivity to the issue of students.”
“We need to have a more diverse mix of people all ages, walks of life … that’s my ultimate goal.”
Rachel Friend has lived in Boulder for five years and has worked in county, state and federal government legal offices. She has served in leadership positions with Moms Demand Action and South Boulder Creek Action Group.
Friend wants to work closely with CU on moving the stalled flood mitigation project of CU Boulder South, which she said is moving “at a snails’ pace.” She said she views most issues through a “social justice lens” and wants to improve the city’s prioritization of projects.
“We have world-class staff who should be empowered to think creatively and lead Boulder boldly forward,” Friend said. “Data and facts should underpin our decisions, and transparency needs to shine through at all levels. Especially where transportation, housing, and climate change are concerned.”
She said she has two children currently attending CU and is aware that her generation has not “met our obligation to set the current college generation up for success.”
Junie Joseph is a second-year CU law student. She worked as an intern for the Obama Administration under the Domestic Policy Council. She has served as a global law and development fellow on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project in Côte D’Ivoire in West Africa as well as a Human Rights Officer within the United Nations Mission to the Central African Republic.
Joseph has a focus on socioeconomic diversity and political inclusion matters. She wants to tackle a lack of affordable housing which she said plays “a major role in all the forms of inequality we see and experience in Boulder.” As a council-member, Joseph said she will “advocate for increasing the housing stock in Boulder through environmentally friendly, responsible and equitable policies.”
She wants to lessen the city’s dependency on cars by adding more bus stops to facilitate the travels of students, young children, people with disabilities and the elderly. Joseph also wants to bring more sustainable energy to Boulder with better-equipped charging stations for electric vehicles.
“It took me several months to find housing that was within my price range,” Joseph said. “So, I understand the issue facing thousands of young people and students. If elected to city council I will be the voice for the youth, students, minorities, working-class people and renters.”
Corina Julca has lived in Boulder for five years and is a high school teacher. She volunteered for Mamacitas, a group that organized outdoor activities for Latina mothers and their children.
Julca said she is running for city council to “represent a broad section of Boulder residents whose influence is weak in comparison to the corporate interests in this town.” She said that as a Latina and an immigrant she will support the local Latino community and “serve as a voice” for them on City Council.
She wants the city to purchase apartment buildings to prevent demolition and replacement with luxury apartments which she says will drive out many residents.
Julca said launching two to three free bus routes will encourage usage of public transportation as well as working with Longmont to see through a proposed RTD rail line to Longmont, Boulder and Denver. She said she cares about the issues that are important to students such as public transportation, climate action, diversity and inclusivity.
“I became involved in politics to try to prevent displacement, through gentrification, of thousands of people living in this part of Boulder,” Julca said.
Nikki McCord has lived in Boulder for nine years and is a former lobbyist in the states of Michigan and Colorado. She is currently a city commissioner.
A key issue for McCord is infrastructure which she said includes everything from affordable housing, roads, bike/pedestrian paths and sewers. She wants to create 256 units of affordable housing per year by 2035 which McCord said will meet the council’s 2019 goal of 15% affordable housing.
“I will pursue policy changes that will create more opportunities for aging individuals and remove barriers to establish affordable housing,” McCord said. “I believe it is council’s job to advocate for innovative solutions to reach the affordable housing goal they have set.”
She said her focus on creating affordable housing opportunities in the city will bring affordability to the city in which students can take advantage.
“Alleviating housing costs frees up precious time as well as money to spend on other things during your college experience.”
Mark McIntyre has lived in Boulder for 42 years and is currently on the city’s Transportation Advisory Board.
McIntyre wants to re-evaluate all current single-family zoning rules and easing or eliminating restrictions for duplex/triplex homes and design housing for “maximum livability for people rather than maximum comfort for parked cars.”
He also believes social justice should play a bigger role in all policy decisions.
McIntyre wants greater police accountability following a controversy after Boulder police confronted a black man for picking up trash on his own property.
“I view these events as an opportunity for Boulder to lead,” McIntyre said. “Our search for a new chief of police needs to extend beyond the usual. We need someone to lead the department that reflects our community values and will bring innovation to training our police to de-escalate.”
He said students should vote for him because of his support for graduate student and faculty housing to be built on CU South, a part of the university’s plan to annex land to the city.
Gala Wilhemina Orba has lived in Boulder for 10 years and has been a public and private school teacher. She had also been a contributing member of Second Kitchen Co-op, a market that served housing co-ops in Boulder which closed in 2014.
Orba wants a portion of Boulder property taxes to go towards transportation improvements. She supports changing the occupancy law to four unrelated persons city-wide and creating new laws around noise levels and street parking. She does not believe the city should charge people for accessing open space and instead supports a 15 cent tax as outlined in Ballot Measure 2H.
According to her campaign website, Orba also supports arts and culture in Boulder, banning single-use plastic and creating better opportunities for women and people of color in business.
Susan Peterson has lived in Boulder for 25 years and has been a board member of PLAN-Boulder County, a local organization promoting protected land use and environmental sustainability.
Peterson wants to see a public and private partnership with large Boulder employers to fund an EcoPass for everyone in the city. She supports inclusionary housing requirements from 20% to 25% for low-income residents and 5% to 10% for middle-income residents. Peterson would also like to see a survey of Boulder workers to better define the types of housing needed in each income category before putting programs in place.
She is committed to the city reaching 100% clean and renewable electricity by 2030 and supports limiting access to certain areas of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks during certain times.
Adam Swetlik has lived in Boulder for 13 years and previously ran for city council in 2016. During 2016, Swetlik was a county delegate for Bernie Sanders’ campaign and currently serves as chairperson of Boulder’s Housing Advisory Board.
Along with expanding affordable housing, Swetlik is proposing a head tax on the largest corporations in Boulder to generate more money for housing and transportation. He supports having a city-owned electrical utility and said that “controlling our electrical grid is the only way we can reach our city’s climate goals by 2030.”
Swetlik is a graduate of CU’s business school and said he has seen how “income and wealth inequality have forced students out of town or made them live in over-occupied houses because rent is so high.” He supports allocating ex-officio seats specifically for students and graduate students on some of our city’s boards.
“I think we need to help students in Boulder so they have a chance at making it through college with as little debt as possible and ensure their basic needs are met while they’re in school,” Swetlik said.
Mark Wallach has lived in Boulder for five years, has worked for civil rights campaigns in Mississipi and was a speechwriter for U.S. Democratic Senator from New Jersey Bill Bradley. He was also a member of the advisory committee to the city council on commercial development/affordable housing linkage fees.
Wallach wants to better maintain Boulder open space and ensure it is adequately funded by renewing a sales tax as outlined in Ballot Measure 2H.
He also supports revising building codes to reduce carbon footprint in the fight against climate change while promoting the use of passive solar designs in large construction projects. Wallach said he has also prioritized affordable housing, saying he wants more local government intervention in the market.
A major proposal by Wallach is to decommission Boulder’s airport and convert it to affordable housing.
“Instead of 75-80% market-rate units, we can insist upon the reverse, 75-80% affordable and middle-income units,” Wallach said.
Wallach said students should vote for him because of his focus on housing, open space and climate action.
“But whether or not students vote for me, and there are many qualified candidates this year, I cannot emphasize too strongly the need to vote,” Wallach said. “The statistics on voting by eligible voters in Boulder under 30 are appalling.”
Bob Yates is running for reelection and has served on city council since 2015. He has lived in Boulder for 18 years and has held leadership positions at the Boulder Museum and the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board. He is also a board member of Boulder Housing Partners.
Yates voted in September to adopt the city’s Transportation Master Plan and has said that revenue towards safer transportation could be generated through a sales tax, property tax, employee head tax or vehicle-based fee.
Instead of focusing on more housing construction, Yates supports converting deed-restricted permanently-affordable housing for low-income families, which is currently being done by Boulder Housing Partners.
State Proposals and Ballot Measures:
There are three City of Boulder ballot measures and two state-wide propositions to vote on.
This ballot measure will see the implementation of a sales and use tax of up to 40% on all “electronic smoking devices, including any refill, cartridge or component of such a product” in the City of Boulder. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, the city said it will receive an estimated $2,500,000 in taxes during the first fiscal year since the tax going into effect.
After covering the cost of implementing the tax itself, this money will be used for creating a licensing program for nicotine product retailers, promoting health and funding education programs about nicotine product use.
The city has proposed the ordinance largely in response to concerns surrounding minor use of electronic cigarettes.
The Middle-Income Housing Program ordinance proposes the creation of a housing assistance program to provide loans to middle-income Boulder households to purchase Boulder homes as well as permanently affordable deed restrictions. Middle-income households are defined as households that earn up to 120% of the Area Median Income. Median household income in Boulder is $80,834, according to census data analyzed by Data USA.
The goal of this measure, as stated in its memo, is to “preserve economic diversity in the city and potentially reduce commuting into Boulder.” Housing prices have been outpacing income growth, “leaving many middle-income households priced out of homeownership in Boulder.”
Taxes would not be raised to aid in the development of this program; instead, the city debt would be increased by a maximum of $10,000,000. This debt would be repaid when a home bought with a loan is refinanced or sold.
Ballot Measure 2H asks voters whether an existing 15 cent sales tax should be extended to fund the acquisition, preservation and restoration of Long’s Gardens, a 25-acre open space land in Boulder.
The current expiration date of the tax is Dec. 31, 2019. City Council is proposing that this expiration date be extended to Dec. 31, 2039. The first year’s revenue from the tax is dedicated to the purchase of the space itself, while revenue from the following 19 years is dedicated to its preservation. This revenue is estimated to be approximately $5.3 million per year.
According to Open Space YES, 2H is endorsed by organizations such as PLAN-Boulder County, Together4Boulder and Sierra Club. All city council candidates except for Nikki McCord have endorsed this measure.
Some reasons Open Space YES cite for supporting 2H include the high visitor count of open space in Boulder, risks of climate change on open space maintenance and cuts that Boulder’s open space budget has faced.
A vote YES for Prop CC would mean that money that is usually returned to taxpayers by the state would instead be split evenly between K-12 schools and colleges. The surplus of money comes when revenue caps are exceeded because of the caps set by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR).
TABOR is an amendment in the Colorado Constitution that limits state revenue growth through taxes to inflation and population increase. All other tax increases need to be directly approved by voters.
The bill would not increase taxes but allow for more public school funding. The Yes on Prop CC campaign said that TABOR refunds only happen in good economic times which limits its availability.
Those in opposition to the proposition have said that TABOR is required to keep a check on government spending.
Proposition DD would legalize sports betting. Once legal, there will be a 10% tax on facilities who administer betting. A financial estimate done by the state projected around $10 million would be generated from the tax in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Most of the revenue would go to a water fund that would support Colorado’s plans for sustainable water usage, while other money raised would go toward gambling addiction resources and covering the cost of regulating the new industry.
Currently, eight states have legalized sports betting, including Indiana and Nevada. Multiple other states have introduced bills that have not been decided on. If the law goes into effect, betting can occur during most amateur and professional sports. Businesses in Blackhawk, Cripple Creek and Central City will be able to apply for permits through a licensed sports operator.
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