Category Archives: City Elections

Municipalization Vote-to-Vote Initiative

May 17, 2013

Because you can, does not mean that you should. Today, Xcel fessed up: they’re behind the “vote to vote” initiative. No surprise there. My question: how many electors are willing to sign it? DON’T! After carefully poll-testing the ballot language, we’ll be voting, again, about issues that will still not be fully vetted – the City’s efforts to complete its approved homework assignments are ongoing. The vote comes before the results will all be in.
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Byrne on Negative Ads

September 29, 2012

Don’t boo. VOTE! Negative ads are meant to “disgust,” not persuade. They engender a sort of “pox on both their houses” attitude that doesn’t harm the ad sponsors. Negative ads are paid for by supporters of one candidate, not to get you to vote for them,- but to keep you from voting for their opponent.
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Directly Elect Mayor in Boulder

November 19, 2011

On November 6, 2009, I suggested we should directly elect our Mayor because there would then be at least one person in town who really could say s/he “represents a majority of Boulder’s voters.” The runners-up would reveal relative voter share of other points of view. I would even recommend we use instant run-off, or ranked voting, in this race.
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2011 Boulder Election Results

2011 Boulder Election Results
November 5, 2011

More than 26,000 people voted, 48% of those receiving ballots. During our last off-year election (2009), only 18,353 (29%) city residents voted. Direct mail worked this time. Give PLAN-Boulder, the Sierra Club, New Era, and Renewables: Yes credit for turning out their supporters, winning a close fight over 2B and 2C, while also electing their preferred city council candidates: Suzanne Jones (ran a near-perfect race for a newcomer), Lisa Morzel (best showing by an incumbent) and Tim Plass.
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Vote – or Else . . .

Vote – or Else . . .
August 13, 2011

We have only ourselves to blame. The answer is simple: VOTE! Hold your nose if you have to, but vote – every time. If negative ads turn your stomach, and both major party candidates use them, vote for the one whose ads you dislike least, or vote for a third party candidate . . . but vote! It matters. The only way to reclaim our democracy is one vote at a time.
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Seth Brigham, Redux

Seth Brigham, Redux
September 25, 2010

‘Tis a challenge to find 250 more words to write on this arguably unworthy subject. Isn’t all the attention going to encourage or enable similar behavior? Not to mention the cold, hard cash. Do we really want Council’s public comment period to become the City of Boulder’s “Gong Show” (apologies to Chuck Barris)?

The premature “hook” of Mr. Brigham is apparently going to cost “us” $10,000. What would have been “price-less” is waiting a few additional seconds to see whether Seth might remove his skivvies, thus committing an actual code violation; or, his three minutes having been exhausted, whether Seth would be content to simply leave the stage wearing fewer clothes than when he started.

Let’s be honest. Boulder’s citizenry are a creative lot. Anticipating every behavior that might be conjured up by one of our own is well nigh impossible at a public hearing, where passions have occasionally been known to run hot. Thus, patience is proved yet again to be a virtue. Instead of, “Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200” (apologies to Parker Brothers), we pay $10Gs. We ought to be able endure for three minutes or less almost any combination of words and actions. We do it on the Downtown Mall all the time, don’t we?

There are victims of city mistakes who are far more deserving, but the City has told them, “times are tough; we’re sorry, but we just don’t have the money.” This case settlement would suggest otherwise.

No Harm, No Howl

February 27, 2010

“No shirt, no shoes, no ‘sermon?'” At this point, I’ll bet everyone who was in Council’s chambers Tuesday night wishes Seth Brigham had been given his 3 minutes, because the resulting exposure (pun intended) just might have everyone disrobing for the next City Council meeting. I suppose it is a good thing that Council will now have carefully crafted procedures to handle the next person who seeks to speak in their skivvies, but we really do have more important matters to address this year.

I hope we don’t spend too much time carving out First Amendment exceptions to avoid comments that might hurt a councilor’s feelings or breach civic decorum in some other “personal” way. Give a clear warning, threaten removal if need be, and then follow through. But remember the “sticks and stones” rule: “names will never hurt me.” Council members ought to be able to survive 3 minutes of ill-conceived diatribe, even if it’s rude, insensitive and demeaning, without permanent harm.

Don’t get me wrong, they clearly don’t deserve it – Lord knows theirs is a thankless, poorly compensated “job” for which they deserve our thanks, not our brickbats. However, uncivil discourse almost always says more about the speaker than the accused. The audience can keep score pretty easily. Let’s not sternly manage Council meetings to prevent 1% from getting away with behavior that 99% of our citizens would never even consider doing. After all, such moments can be quite “revealing.”

We Should Elect Boulder’s Mayor

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.

Boulder City Election Turnout

October 31, 2009

In 2007, the City of Boulder had 48,267 registered voters. 15,928 ballots were received, a turnout of 33%. In 2008, local measures on the ballot along with state and national candidates received 45,777 Boulder votes (a 70% turnout). Would a 70% turnout in an “off-year” election change the outcome? Certainly. Boulder, along with most local governments and special districts, holds elections in odd years because of a belief that during even year general elections many voters cast “poorly-informed” local votes. Ouch.

2007’s low turnout elected our current city council. The top vote getter received 9,815 votes (10.4%) [10.4% of a 33% turnout, I should add]. The lowest vote total for a successful candidate was 6,836 (7.2%/33%). By comparison, top city vote getters since 2001 garnered between 12,544 and 14,091 votes and the lowest “winner” prior to 2007 received 8,939 votes (11.4%/40% turnout).

With such small percentages of such pitiful turnouts, it’s a wonder any elected official in Boulder has the chutzpa to claim to represent “a vast majority of Boulder citizens.” If tamping vote totals down through the use of off-year elections is a conscious strategy, the best response to the tactic is to turn out in droves! I hope we do . . .

As of 9:00am Friday, 6,939 Boulder ballots are in (10.8% turnout). Lost ballots can be replaced, but all ballots must be received by no later than 7:00pm on November 3rd (Tuesday night). You should hand deliver your ballot to 1750 33rd Street (between Walnut and Arapahoe). Carpe diem!

Campaign Funding Reform in Boulder

October 24, 2009

It must be election season. The notion that candidates for Boulder’s City Council would sell their souls in $100 increments requires a willful suspension of disbelief. Where is the upside in a city council seat? It pays almost nothing. The hours of service required are taken directly from one’s family and friends. Personal aggrandizement is not an option.

No one runs for Council to make a quick buck. In fact, the more you spend on a City Council campaign, the more voters learn about your agenda. In living memory, I don’t think any city council candidate has “won” (I use the term advisedly) by spending more than one of the other candidates. Boulder voters are smart and they are willing to do some homework. Piffle doesn’t sell here. Substance does. People who think otherwise don’t give us enough credit.

Boulder’s Campaign Reform ordinance limits the expenditures by a candidate using matching funds to no more than $15,771. The personal/corporate donation limit is $100. Candidates may choose to self-fund, which eliminates the spending cap, but the $100 contribution limit applies to all. Anonymous contributions are prohibited. Many folks in our fair city scrutinize required campaign reports for nefarious activity. The truth will out.

Recently, some out-of-town visitors were watching TV, thinking reality shows were exceeding all reasonable expectations – who could make this stuff up? It turns out they were watching Channel 8, which was broadcasting a City Council session. We can do better. Please vote. It matters.