2018 Boulder Voting Guide
Comprehensive Boulder Ballot Guide
This is based on the recommendations of Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones and Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones. The endorsements and ballot positions are very much in line with the voting guides provided by progressive and environmental organizations. If you do not have a ton of time to do your own research for every single candidate and issue, this guide can help you get started.
If you only have time to make one single mark on your ballot, mark NO on Amendment 74. The amendment was bankrolled by gas and oil companies as an insurance policy against Proposition 112. Unfortunately it will wreak damage in Colorado far beyond gas and oil drilling. See below for more details.
- U.S. Representative (CD-2): Joe Neguse. Joe is a former CU-Regent, helped start New Era Colorado (one of the most successful youth voter engagement groups in the country), and, as the son of Eritrean immigrants, would be the first African American elected to Congress from CO. Joe is for minimum wage increase, renewable energy development, environmental protection, healthcare coverage expansion and prescription drug cost reduction. He will be a great replacement for Jared Polis who is the current representative for the district and is running for governor.
- U.S. Representative (CD-4): Karen McCormick (D). If you live in Longmont, vote for veterinarian and down-to-earth political newcomer Karen to replace super conservative, pro-gun, anti-choice, and anti-environment incumbent Ken Buck.
- Governor: Jared Polis. Jared is a progressive, who is running on a platform of 100% renewable energy, full-day kindergarten and pre-school, and universal health care. As our current Congressman, he has championed wilderness protection and regulating oil and gas impacts. Plus, he would be the first openly gay male Governor in the country, which is a great message for CO to send on diversity. He’s running against State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a staunch conservative who was recently endorsed by Trump.
- State Secretary of State: Jena Griswold. An up-and-coming, go-getter lawyer from Louisville who used to work for the Obama administration, Jena is focused on protection of voting rights, campaign finance reform and cyber-security. She’s also the only woman running statewide in CO.
- State Treasurer: Dave Young. Dave has accumulated great treasurer experience from serving on the Joint Budget Committee during four years as a representative in the state legislature, where he was a reliable progressive vote. He was also a middle school math teacher for many years.
- Attorney General: Phil Weiser. Phil has the legal and management experience needed for AG, having clerked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, worked for President Obama in the White House and litigated for the Justice Department, before serving as the dean of the CU Law School here in Boulder. His priorities are standing up to the Trump administration on immigrant rights, environmental protection, net neutrality and dark money in elections.
- CU Regent - At Large: Lesley Smith. Lesley was a scientist and educator at CU for 30 years, served for 8 years on Boulder Valley School Board, and (fun fact) was the first woman aquanaut in the underwater Aquarius research facility, where she studied coral reefs.
- State Board of Education (CD-2): Angelika Schroeder. The current chair of the Board of Education, Angelika is well experienced, having served onthe State Board since 2009, and prior to that, on the Boulder Valley School Board for 8 years. She deserves re-election.
Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority in the State Senate. It would be great for the Democrats to win back the State Senate, so that we could pass more progressive legislation at the state level for the environment, women’s rights, education, health care, etc. — so vote Democrat! This was already a no-brainer in the greater Boulder area, where we have particularly great Democratic candidates who are worthy of your enthusiastic support:
- State Senator -- District 16: Tammy Story (Superior). This race is key to the Dems taking back the State Senate. A public education advocate who led the successful recall effort against the ultra-conservative Jeffco School Board, Tammy would be a welcome replacement for incumbent Tim Neville, who is known for his extreme stances against abortion, teenage pregnancy prevention and immigrants.
- State Rep -- District 11: Jonathan Singer (Longmont area). Jonathan is a former social worker turned legislator who prioritizes working on issues to improve the lives of underserved populations.
- State Rep -- District 12: Sonya Jaquez Lewis (Louisville area). As a pharmacist, organic farmer and Latina lesbian, Sonya will be a great advocate for the protecting the environment, expanding healthcare coverage, and protecting civil rights.
- State Rep -- District 13: KC Becker (1/2 of Boulder & nearby mountain counties). KC is a good progressive and a former environmental attorney and Boulder City Council member. She is also currently the House Majority Leader and slated to become Speaker of the House (i.e., top dog) next year, where she can help shape and lead the legislature’s agenda.
- State Rep -- District 14: Edie Hooton (other ½ of Boulder). Edie has been a solid progressive legislator, especially on immigrant and women’s rights, the environment and education.
- State Rep – District 33: Matt Gray (Broomfield area). A former deputy district attorney, Matt represents Broomfield, Superior and Erie at the State House, where he has sponsored bills to address oil & gas impacts, assistance for seniors and those with disabilities, and domestic violence.
Boulder County Offices
- District Attorney: Michael Dougherty. Michael was appointed to be DA when Stan Garnett left the position in February and since then has already made improvements by establishing a task force to investigate cold cases and a conviction integrity unit to review wrongful convictions. He’s running unopposed.
- Regional Transportation District Director – District O: Lynn Guissinger. Lynn is unopposed but a great pick anyway; she’s a major transit, bike and pedestrian advocate, who has taught land use law at CU law school, served on a gazillion local boards, and started Bike Life Magazine.
- County Commissioner -- District 3: Matt Jones. Matt has a wealth of public service experience, including 18 years working for Boulder’s open space department, and 14 years in the state legislature, where he has prioritized protecting the environment and fighting fracking.
- County Clerk & Recorder – Molly Fitzpatrick. She’s unopposed but an excellent pick regardless. A millennial, Molly will provide a fresh, youthful voice to County government and has accumulated great electoral and management experience as the organizer for New Era Colorado for the past nine years.
- County Treasurer, Assessor, Sheriff, Surveyor and Coroner. They are all incumbents who are doing a great job and running unopposed – so we’ll save space and just say vote for them all.
Retain all the judges since they have all met the performance expectations per Colorado Commissions on Judicial Performance.
- Amendment V – Lowering the age requirement for serving in the state legislature from 25 to 21 years. Vote Yes. A 21-year old is considered an adult under the law, and younger candidates could help attract and engage younger voters, and represent the specific issues that this demographic faces (e.g., student debt, housing and health care costs, etc.). Voters would still ultimately decide whether they think a particular candidate has enough experience and maturity to represent them.
- Amendment W – Changing the ballot format for judge retention votes: Vote Yes. W is a minor cosmetic change that will make the ballot shorter and more concise (and hence cheaper to produce). Under W, rather than repeating the full wording of the retention question for each judge, it would be written once, followed by the list of judges and a yes/no box for each one.
- Amendment X – Changing the definition of industrial hemp: Vote Yes. Growing industrial hemp (a form of cannabis that doesn’t make you high) is legal in the State of CO and defined as having no more than 0.3 THC in it (the stuff that makes you high). Industrial hemp is not yet legal in the eyes of the federal government, although it’s anticipated that legislation to change this will pass soon. Industry hemp will continue to be protected in the CO Constitution. X would simply remove the definition of hemp from the CO Constitution and define it to be the same as in federal or state statute, thereby providing flexibility and retaining competitiveness for CO hemp growers as the national regulatory landscape evolves for hemp. This measure has a wide bipartisan support in the Colorado legislature - 95 of 100 State Legislators support it. It's also endorsed by Colorado Hemp Industries Association.
- Amendment Y – Changing how we redraw congressional districts: Vote Yes. Every 10 years after the census count, the boundaries are redrawn for congressional and state legislative districts to reflect the new population numbers. In many states, this can be a very partisan process, with the political party in power during the census year redrawing the lines to favor keeping their party in power. A bipartisan group of stakeholders decided to try and end this partisan pendulum in CO by coming up with a fair and impartial system to redraw the lines, and convinced the state legislature, by a 2/3 vote, to refer this measure to the voters for their approval. While it might be tempting to rig the system in your party’s favor, it’s more ethical and sustainable to create a level playing field and let the voters fairly elect the lawmakers who will represent them—and in so doing, CO would become a model of democracy for other states. Y establishes an Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, consisting of an equal number of members of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, to amend and approve congressional district maps drawn by nonpartisan legislative staff.
- Amendment Z -- Changing how we redraw state legislative districts: Vote Yes. This measure does the same thing as Y, only for the state legislature.
- Amendment A -- Removing language allowing slavery & involuntary servitude to be used as punishment for a crime: Vote Yes. It’s good to get rid of inappropriate and outdated provisions in our state constitution.
- Amendment 73 – School Funding Measure: Lean Yes. This measure would provide much-needed funding for public schools by raising the income tax rate for people who earn over $150,000 to between 5% and 8.25% (from the current flat rate of 4.63%), increasing the corporate income tax rate from 4.63% to 6%, and setting new assessment rates for the property taxes levied by school districts. While CO absolutely needs to increase spending on education (we’re 39th in the nation in per pupil spending), many are concerned that 73 will have unintended consequences and since it’s a constitutional amendment, it will be difficult to amend. In particular, it’s not clear how its changes to property tax assessments for schools will affect revenues for cities, towns and special districts. It also almost doubles the state income rate for those in high income bracket. While there is a good reason to vote for it given the critical need for CO to invest more in education, we understand why some people may balk (read the Denver Post’s editorial for more on this).
- Amendment 74 – Require Compensation: Vote No!!!!. While it might initially sound nice to require government to compensate you for any law or regulation that reduces your property’s market value, this deceptive, dangerous Constitutional measure would trigger a litigation free-for-all, costing billions in taxpayer dollars. The constitution already requires just compensation for “takings” of private property; this measure, bankrolled by the oil & gas industry, would greatly expand this established principle, exposing local governments and the state to costly litigation over almost any land use decision they make -- or don’t make. For example, a city or county couldn’t reject a proposal for a bar, oil & gas well, marijuana shop or adult bookstore next to a school without the risk of having to compensate the property owner. Similarly, a local government couldn’t approve a community center, health clinic or tavern without risk of a lawsuit from aggrieved neighbors. This would have a paralyzing effect on basic decisions local governments routinely make on everything from zoning to public health protections to oil & gas drill permits. A similar but less extreme measure that passed in Oregon resulted in $20 billion worth of claims before voters repealed the measure. That’s why a very broad bipartisan coalition of cities and counties, businesses, environmental groups, labor, teachers, editorial boards and more opposes 74.
- Amendment 75 – Campaign Spending: Vote No. Several Republicans filed this as a way to stop Jared Polis from spending so much of his own money to get elected. While there is some appeal to leveling the playing field so that millionaires can’t outspend poorer opponents, this amendment would lift limits for both candidates, resulting in more money (not less!) being spent on elections and it wouldn’t do anything about the unlimited dark money being spent by outside groups in our major races (regardless of the wealth of the candidate). Further more, this amendment also raises the spending limit when one of the candidates "facilitates or coordinates third party contributions amounting to more than one million dollars". This will open a flood gate for many races including those without multi-millionaires! What we need is a real campaign finance reform to limit campaign spendings, and this amendment will do exactly the opposite.
- Proposition 109 – Transportation Bonding/Fix Our Damn Roads: Vote No. Wouldn’t it be great if you really could get something for nothing? Unfortunately, we can’t, no matter what 109 proponents might say. This measure would authorize $3.5 billion in bonding for highway transportation projects, without identifying revenues to pay them back, which means other programs like education, health care and mental health services, etc. would have to be cut instead. To make it even worse, 109 would provide no monies for transit or local priorities, and almost no funds for projects in Boulder County.
- Proposition 110 – Transportation Funding: Vote Yes. In contrast to 109, 110 would generate much-needed funding for transportation, via a sales tax increase of about 6 cents on a $10 purchase. Primary funding for transportation, the gas tax, hasn’t been increased in 27 years, which is why there are so many potholes and traffic jams. 110 funds would be divvied up: 40% to cities and counties for local priorities; 15% for multimodal (i.e., transit, bike and pedestrian) projects; and 45% for state projects, like improvements on I-25 and I-70 that would benefit all of us. Nearly $1 billion of 110’s monies would come to Boulder County for projects to improve mobility on the Diagonal, State Highways 7 and 287, and other corridors. Local communities are encouraged to invest in multimodal projects through matching incentives. 110 is supported by a broad coalition of cities, counties, transit advocates, businesses, environmental and labor advocates and more.
- Proposition 111 – Limit Predatory Payday Lending: Vote Yes. This measure would limit interest rates (including fees) on payday loans to 36%; currently, rates can go as high as 214%, which can trap consumers into a cycle of debt.
- Proposition 112 – Setbacks for Oil & Gas: Vote Yes. This measure would require new oil & gas operations to be at least 2,500 feet from homes, schools, parks and open space, and waterways. Oil & gas development is a dangerous industrial activity that poses significant threats to humans and the environment, from toxic air emissions and spills that contaminate water supplies, to explosions that have killed homeowners and workers. Research has shown that people living closer to oil & gas sites are at higher risk for cancer and other public health concerns. The industry is spending $20 million to convince you otherwise, but the bottom line is that we shouldn’t be fracking in neighborhoods.
- County Issue 1A – Alternative Sentencing Facility/Jail Modernization Tax Extension: Vote Yes. This measure would address jail overcrowding and improve treatment of inmates by funding an alternative sentencing facility to house low-risk offenders in work release programs (which will decrease incarceration and recidivism rates), and modernize the current aging and overcrowded jail to improve safety and programs to serve inmates’ mental and physical health needs. Funding for 1A wouldn’t begin flowing until the current 0.185% flood recovery sales tax expires at the end of 2019, so there would be no increase in overall taxes.
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2C — Oil & Gas Pollution Tax: Vote Yes. This measure would charge a tax on oil and gas companies should they ever be allowed to drill within Boulder’s city limits, as a way to offset the impacts of drilling. While no drilling is currently proposed within city limits, this tax is a pre-emptive measure as oil & gas drilling creeps westward into Boulder County.
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2D — Retention of Already-Collected Sugary Beverage Tax: Vote Yes. Last year City voters approved a tax on distributors who sell sugary beverages like soda in Boulder, to discourage consumption and provide funding for programs that improve nutrition and exercise opportunities for low-income and Latino families, who are disproportionately targeted by beverage advertising. The tax ended up raising more revenue than predicted so, by law, the voters have to approve spending the additional monies or send it back to the beverage distributers (NOTE: the tax wouldn’t be returned to the consumers who paid it). The sugary beverage tax is being used to fund things like soccer scholarships and rec center passes for kids who can’t afford to play otherwise, enabling low-income families to buy more fruit and vegetables at farmers markets, nutrition & fitness education, bicycle giveaways, community gardens, and more – so we support using the money already collected on these worthwhile programs.
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2E — Charter Amendments for Initiatives, Referendums and Recalls: Vote Yes. This measure clarifies requirements for City petition and recall efforts, including establishing timelines, standards for gathering signatures, and lowering the number of required signatures to put measures on the ballot (based on a percentage of voters who participated in the last two elections rather than all registered voters). This will bring Boulder's petition signature requirements more in line with other cities like Austin, Seattle, Portland. For people who worry about recalls: we will still require twice as many signatures for a recall as opposed to a ballot measure so recall is still going to be hard and we don't expect that to be a concern.
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2F — Charter Amendments for Initiative Petition Signature Verification: Vote Yes. 2F improves the accuracy of the ballot measure process by requiring the city clerk to verify the authenticity of petition signatures by comparing them with electronic election records at the County or State. It will require more work for the city clerk but it's important to protect the integrity of the petition process.
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2G — Charter Amendments for Electronic & Online Petitions: Vote Yes. This measure would improve public civic engagement by allowing the City Council to adopt ordinances (after due diligence to assure cyber security) to permit the use of electronic petitions and on-line electronic signing of initiative, referendum and recall petitions. This measure will not authorize electronic & online petitions but will get the discussion started. This could be particularly helpful in getting young people engaged in the petition process.
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2H — Charter Amendment Related to Advisory Commissions: Vote Yes. 2H would amend details regarding volunteer advisory commissions by allowing the City Council to set the size of new commissions at five or seven members, expand the Housing Advisory Board to seven members, update the criteria for what constitutes a majority to accommodate different-sized boards, and replace references to “sex” with “gender identity”.
- City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2I — Charter Amendments for Planning Department Budget Recommendations: Vote Yes. This minor measure would amend the schedule for when the Planning Department provides input on the city’s annual budget. By allowing the Planning Board to provide input later in the spring (30 days before the budget is submitted rather than 60 days before), the Planning Board would also be able to review proposed capital improvement projects as part of their budget review process (rather than after the fact), thereby better aligning and improving the City’s overall budget process.
- Rocky Mountain Fire Protection District Issue 6A – Gallagher Revenue Stabilization. Vote Yes. This measure would not be an increase on taxes, but would allow fire districts to retain the property tax revenue it would lose as a result of Gallagher Amendment leveling in the future. We need the fire stations to be adequately funded for the growing population so they can respond to the community needs in a timely fashion. It would save lives.
- Urban Drainage and Flood Control District Ballot Issue 7G — Flood Control and Warning Systems Revenue Stabilization. Vote Yes. The UDFC District partners with metro area cities and counties to design and build flood control projects, early warning systems, open space and trails, and conduct debris removal. The District’s property tax rate hasn’t been raised in 50 years, but the 1992 Taxpayer Bill of Rights (aka TABOR) resulted in the ratcheting-down of the flood-control district’s dedicated property tax rate from $1 per $1,000 of assessed value to 56 cents today. Under 7G, the District is asking for permission to restore its full taxing authority, as many other cities and counties have done. The impact on the average home would be about $13 annually. Each city and county receives back the same amount of funding as they contribute, and benefits from well-designed flood control infrastructure.