With the Nov. 8, 2022 election less than three weeks away, ballots should be in hand any day now. Boulder Reporting Lab is here to help voters make sense of what’s at stake in this year’s election. Our guide this year is centered around city and relevant county issues, as well as races for seats at the state legislature.
As a nonprofit newsroom, we’re not here to endorse any candidates or issues, but rather to inform and cut through the heat and emotion of our local election conversation. We aim for this guide to be easy to digest, quick to read, and contextualized with links to additional reporting.
In that vein, we’re here to answer your questions (so please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org). We’ll update this page with the answers and links to our ongoing election coverage.
What’s at stake for city residents on Nov. 8?
Four key citywide ballot measures, three countywide sales taxes, and a property tax increase for Boulder’s public schools are at stake in this election. City council elections are held in odd years (though that could change after this election).
Ballot Measure 2F: This measure would repeal the CU South annexation agreement between the City of Boulder and the University of Colorado. The agreement, signed in September 2021, sets the terms for building housing, university facilities (including a 3,000-person stadium) and a flood mitigation project on the 308-acre property known as CU South.
The referendum follows a long and tumultuous history surrounding the South Boulder property. Read our coverage on:
- The history of CU South and why the property is not the City of Boulder’s to begin with.
- Some of the recent politics surrounding the referendum.
- The city council’s decision to build a 100-year flood project, and not the larger one that many (including council) had once hoped for.
Ballot Measure 2E: This measure would move the city’s elections from odd years to even years to coincide with state and federal elections, starting in 2026. The measure would boost turnout for CU Boulder students — among other people who vote less in off-year elections.
The Boulder City Council put this measure on the ballot. Much of the debate since then has been about the merits (or lack thereof) of increasing the CU student share of Boulder’s electorate. There is also discussion about the potential impact on local school board races, which would still occur in odd-year elections. Read our coverage on:
- The city council’s support of the measure, the issues at play and who’s behind the campaign.
- The voter participation data from the 2021 municipal election.
Ballot Measure 6C: This measure would create a new library district across the City of Boulder and much of Boulder County. The measure seeks to boost funding for the city’s libraries, create a new government to oversee them (like the Regional Transportation District), and pay for it all using a new 3.5 mill property tax rather than city sales tax revenue. (To see how much your property taxes would increase, you can use the interactive map released by the city.) Read our coverage on:
- The origins of the library district measure.
- Why Boulder County commissioners opposed the measure while a majority on the Boulder City Council supported it.
Ballot Measure 2A: This measure would create a new tax on utility bills to pay for climate change resilience and mitigation projects. The tax would replace existing surcharges on utility bills. Some residents would pay more, especially business owners. The measure is backed by the City of Boulder’s climate initiatives department and is intended to help the city prepare for a hotter and drier future. Read our coverage on:
- This tax, as part of the city’s strategic shift away from its previous climate focus of pushing Xcel Energy to drive down greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation.
Ballot Measure 5A: This measure would allow the Boulder Valley School District to borrow up to $350 million to pay for “critical needs,” including replacing New Vista High School. It would also raise property taxes up to $32 million annually. The increase would be about $120 per year for a $600,000 home, and about $840 per year for a $1 million non-residential property, according to district estimates.
Other Ballot Measures: Several city ballot measures would help implement the more high-profile policy changes sought from the four city ballot measures above. These include 2D, which prevents candidates running for mayor in 2023 from also running for city council; 2C, which helps cut the library out of city government; and 2B, which allows the City of Boulder to take on debt to implement climate-related programs.
What county measures will residents vote on?
Boulder county commissioners are asking residents to pay a 0.1% sales tax — one penny for every $10 spent — to raise about $11 million per year for each of the following measures:
- 1A, a wildfire mitigation tax.
- 1B, a tax to support emergency response programs, including volunteer organizations, such as the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group.
- 1C, extending a transportation tax aimed in part at supporting people who walk, bike or take the bus.
We reported on how money from the wildfire tax might be spent. We also wrote about one county transportation project likely to need lots of cash: a new bike path along the North Foothills Highway, one of the county’s most dangerous roads for cyclists.
Who will represent Boulder in Denver?
House District 49: Rep. Judy Amabile of Boulder is seeking another term as one of the city’s representatives at the Colorado House. Some of her notable policy positions include spending more money on mental health care, regulating solitary confinement in county jails, and opposing making it a felony to possess one gram of fentanyl, a powerful opioid often added to recreational drugs.
Her Republican challenger is Katie Lehr, a co-owner of a construction firm in Boulder who attended the Jan. 6 riot on the Capitol to protest the 2020 election results. Lehr has staked out the opposite position as her opponent on criminal justice issues. Her website, which includes photos of what she says are homeless encampments outside of Boulder, takes issue with a “permanent criminal class that camps in our public spaces, befouls public spaces, has possibly caused several wildfires in Boulder County, and steals from the community with impunity.”
House District 49 includes the City of Boulder mostly west of Broadway and across the county up to the Continental Divide.
House District 10: This seat represents the other half of the city. In August, Councilmember Junie Joseph was elected by members of the Boulder County Democratic Party to be the party’s nominee. The seat was previously held by Rep. Edie Hooton of Boulder. Hooton withdrew from the race due to personal reasons. Joseph, a Hatian-American and practicing family attorney, would be the first Black woman to represent the city at the state Capitol.
She will be running against William DeOreo, an engineer from Boulder who is running as a Republican. DeOreo has campaigned on national narratives regarding border security and voter fraud. In August, he sued Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Molly Fitzpatrick for alleged violations of state laws regulating drop-off ballot boxes. The county’s attorneys have asked Boulder County District Court to dismiss the case.
Other House races: In other state House races, Democratic Rep. Karen McCormick, a veterinarian from Longmont, is defending a challenge from Tara Menza, a pilot and local activist from Longmont who is running as a Republican. Rep. Tracey Bernett, an engineer from Louisville, is running against a Republican contender, Anya Kirvan, a registered nurse from Boulder.
All Democratic incumbents in Boulder County have an advantage over their Republican opponents in terms of the number of registered voters likely to support them and direct campaign fundraising.
State Senate races: Boulder County’s two state senators, Senate President Steve Fenberg of Boulder and Sonya Jaquez Lewis of unincorporated Boulder County, are up for reelection in 2024.
But 2022 marks the first election since the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions in 2021 redrew political maps across the state and broke up Boulder County’s state senate districts. And so this year, about half of Fenberg’s former district will be up for grabs in an election that will decide who represents the towns of Nederland, Jamestown, Ward and Estes Park. The county’s mountain towns will now fall into the more conservative district held by Sen. Rob Woodward, a Republican from Loveland, who is up for reelection. Hoping to pick up this seat for Democrats is Janice Marchman, a middle school math teacher from Loveland.
County offices all but decided
Boulder County Commissioner District 3: Louisville Mayor Ashley Stolzmann, a chemical engineer, is likely to be Boulder’s newest county commissioner. Stolzmann is seeking a seat vacated by Commissioner Matt Jones, a former state senator who is not seeking reelection.
The seat is also being contested by Bo Shaffer of Longmont, who is running as a Libertarian. In February 2021, Shaffer was appointed by Gov. Jared Polis to serve on the Colorado River Interbasin Compact Committee.
The winner will join commissioners Marta Loachamin and Claire Levy, both of whom were elected in 2020, and are up for reelection in 2024.
Boulder County Sheriff: With no challenger, Curtis Johnson, a division chief with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, is likely to be the next county sheriff. He will replace Sheriff Joe Pelle, who was first elected in 2003.
Other odds and ends to help you vote
Your ballot should be in the mail. To check whether you’re registered to vote, visit the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.
The county has published election resources in Spanish.
Wondering about all those yard signs and postcards? We’ll keep you posted on the latest campaign spending ahead of the election.
Want to get in the weeds? Read Shay Castle’s guide on city and county questions. Looking for endorsements? Check out the Boulder Weekly or subscribe to the Daily Camera. For more info on statewide measures, try the Colorado Sun (or Axios, if you just have a minute).
The League of Women Voters of Boulder County has been hosting forums and debates on several city and county ballot measures. On Thursday, Oct. 20, it is hosting a candidate forum for House District 11 and on Tuesday, Oct. 25, it is hosting a forum for House District 12. More events are listed on the organization’s calendar.
If you have questions or ideas you want us to explore, send us tips (anonymously if you prefer) to email@example.com.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Judy Amabile and Katie Lehr were vying for House District 13. They are running for HD 49, due to recent redistricting.