November 7, 2009
When I moved to Boulder in 1981, city council elections were a revelation: pick 5-6 winners from among 12-15 candidates? Cool. I’d look at the members who had 2 more years, then cast all my votes on a group of candidates I thought would fill in the missing community DNA. I’d vote for Spence Havlick and Bob Greenlee because both viewpoints deserved a place at the table. “Bullet-voting” was unheard of – you balanced your own ticket and figured everyone else would, too, so a representative sample would be chosen.
This year, 18,535 ballots were cast by Boulder residents (a 29% turnout), generating 75,114 “votes,” which equates to about 4.05 votes per ballot. This means very few voters wandered off their respective reservations to cast 5th votes. Macon Cowles received 7,749 votes and KC Becker received 7,719 votes. Barry Siff’s 177 and 245 vote edge over Tim Plass and Jyotsna Raj, respectively, are another indication that our two “core” constituencies are roughly equal at a secondary (down-ballot) level of 7,000 votes.
8 of our 9 current City Council members received fewer than 10,000 votes apiece – 10% of our population; 15% of our registered voters. Who represents a majority of Boulder’s citizens? Who knows? But there’s no shortage of folks claiming the mantle. We should elect our Mayor. Then there would be at least one person in town who really could say they represent Boulder, and the runners-up would reveal the relative size of our other points of view.