2018 Jefferson County Voting Guide

http://tiny.cc/jeffco-votes

Comprehensive Jefferson County Ballot Guide

Former Golden Mayor Jacob Smith wrote a guide for the very long JeffCo ballot. His endorsements and ballot positions are very much in line with the voting guides provided by progressive and environmental organizations. This guide is created based on his recommendations as well as the recommendations from a number of other insiders in JeffCo and beyond. If you do not have a ton of time to do your own research for every single candidate and issue, this guide may 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.

Federal Offices

  • U.S. Congress (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. Congress (CD-7): Ed Perlmutter. Ed has been a good friend to Golden for a very long time. He’s also the most approachable, straightforward, and hard-working member of Congress I know.

State Offices

  • Governor: Jared Polis. I supported Cary Kennedy in the primary, but when Jared won I jumped on board enthusiastically in support of his campaign in the general election. I’ve known him for a long time, and while I don’t agree with him on every issue I support much of what he is promoting on renewable energy, full-day kindergarten and pre-school, and others. I also respect and appreciate his mix of very ambitious ideas with his background of pragmatic success in government and in the private sector.
  • State Secretary of State: Jena Griswold. Jena is a great candidate running for an important office. The Secretary of State role includes managing business registrations, protecting election integrity, and ensuring that everyone eligible to vote is actually able to vote ("ballot access" is the term some people use). Colorado has done a decent job on the first one for quite a while, and we've got an extremely good record on election integrity going back quite a few administrations, but there hasn't been much emphasis on making sure that everyone with the right to vote is really able to do so. I think Jena will build on and sustain our success on the first two while also bringing an emphasis on the third.
  • 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.
  • State Board of Education (CD-2): Angelika Schroeder. As the current chair of the Board of Education, Angelika is well experienced, having served on the State Board since 2009, and prior to that, on the Boulder Valley School Board for 8 years. She deserves re-election.
  • 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 Legislature

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! And we have particularly great Democratic candidates who are worthy of your enthusiastic support:

  • State Senate (SD-16): Tammy Story. Tammy is running against an incumbent who happens to be one of the most conservative members of the Senate (Tim Neville). He regularly takes what I think are extreme stances on issues like abortion, teenage pregnancy prevention, and immigrants. Tammy, on the other hand, is best known for her role in the recall effort against the ultra-conservative Jeffco School Board a few years ago, and I’ll add that for a first-time candidate she is seriously hustling to reach voters and earn their support, including in Golden. I think she would do a great job representing our community in the state legislature. The ability to think big and also execute pragmatically and thoughtfully is a powerful combination.
  • State Senate (SD-20): Jessie Danielson. Jessie has served as a state representative since 2015. In the legislature, Jessie has been a leader on equal pay for equal work, fighting elder abuse, getting rid of red tape for veterans looking for a job or college degree, and cracking down on wage theft. Jessie sponsored the bill that legalized rain barrels for Colorado homeowners. Prior to serving in the state house, Jessie led America Votes in Colorado and was instrumental in expanding expanding ballot access for Coloradans. Jessie will be a reliable advocate for public education, affordable healthcare, and the environment in the state senate.
  • State House (HD-24): Monica Duran. I don't know Monica personally but a lot of folks I trust like and respect her. I appreciate her focus on public education and expanding access to health care. Her opponent seems to be primarily focused on a Proposition 109-style platform (build more roads while cutting state funding for everything else), which I don't support. Monica is also a Wheat Ridge City Councilor, and I think legislators with city council experience bring a particular appreciation of the needs of local governments and local communities that can be pretty valuable.
  • State House (HD-25): Lisa Cutter. Lisa is wonderful and has some really great ideas to address youth mental health needs and challenges. She's very motivated and hard working. She is all about investing in the communities, protecting and preserving our natural resources and helping to build a sustainable future for our children.

Judicial Retentions

Retain all the judges since they have all met the performance expectations per Colorado Commissions on Judicial Performance.

Jefferson County Offices

  • Jefferson County Commission (District 3): Lesley Dahlkemper. Lesley has worked incredibly hard to improve JeffCo school board. She also cares about issues that impact JeffCo voters' lives like affordable housing, health care, and jobs. She is competent, approachable, and pragmatic. She always seeks out to listen to others and will do a great job as a commissioner.
  • Jefferson County Assessor: Scot Kersgaard. Scot supports fair and accurate assessments and commits to using the best technology available. He is also committed to transparency and pledged to have frequent and consistent communication with constituents.
  • Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder: George Stern. Many of you may know George from his role as a Golden volunteer firefighter. He’s smart, energetic, and has his act to together. George is a lawyer by training and he will be great as the JeffCo clerk and recorder.
  • Jefferson County Sheriff: Jeff Shrader. Jeff has the support of democratic legislators. He runs against an independent candidate who wants to loosen gun control. Vote for Jeff!
  • Jefferson County Surveyor: Bryan Douglas. Bryan is a Surveyor and he will be very qualified for this job.
  • Jefferson County Treasurer: Gerald Ditullio. Gerald was the former Mayor and a former member of City Council for Wheat Ridge. He is doing a good job as the Treasurer and deserves to be re-elected.
  • Jefferson County Coroner: Annette Cannon. Annette is fully qualified, she has many years of experience in health care and in business - exactly what a coroner needs.

State Measures

  • 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.
  • 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. 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.

Local Measures

  • Jefferson County School District R-1 Ballot Issues 5A and 5B: Vote Yes. Amendment 73 can help fix the long-term structural problems with Colorado’s school funding system. But even if voters adopt it, it will still take a while before school districts feel the impact. Jeffco Schools are asking voters to approve a mill levy and bond that would be allocated to a number of very specific purposes, including STEM programs, improved compensation for teachers, improving student mental health services and school safety, and expanding early education programs.
  • City of Golden Ballot Question 2E - Vote Yes. This is a local City of Golden measure that would lower the voting age for municipal elections from 18 to 16. If it passes, it means that 16 and 17 year-olds will have the opportunity to vote in Golden city council and mayoral races and in local Golden ballot measures. Here’s how I’m looking at it: City Council makes a lot of decisions that directly impact our high school students and our high schools, and I suspect that the high school students most likely to vote are the ones who are most informed and engaged to begin with. Giving students a meaningful opportunity to participate in civic life at a younger age should help those teens develop stronger lifelong civic engagement habits. When 18 year-olds are invited to vote in their first Congressional, gubernatorial, and presidential elections, they will be better prepared and may have stronger voting habits if they've already had the experience of voting locally. I support it.
  • Ballot Issue 7C — West Metro Fire District Mill Levy: 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.
  • Ballot Issue 7G — Urban Drainage & Flood Control District: 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.