With the next local election only months away, Boulder Reporting Lab is dedicated to ensuring your voices and concerns are heard by the candidates competing for your vote.
Instead of trying to guess what those concerns are, we decided to ask you.
Today, we’re launching a simple two-question community survey. Your responses will ensure we’re asking candidates the questions that matter most to you. By prioritizing your input, we can shape our coverage to focus on the topics voters want to hear about, helping to cut through the campaign noise.
While this might seem unusual, our approach is rooted in a tradition of reader-powered campaign journalism known as the “Citizen’s Agenda” — first tested in 1990 by a small newspaper trying to “wrest control of the campaign dialogue away from the spin doctors.”
This approach also aligns with our mission as an independent, reader-supported nonprofit newsroom dedicated to reporting issues of community significance. And it’s why we exist — to be your conduit to power.
As we approach the election on November 7, 2023, we’ll be publishing various campaign stories. But a significant portion of our coverage will be reader-powered. By filling out the form below, you’ll effectively become our assignment editor, influencing our election coverage and potentially shaping the future of Boulder.
Here’s our plan for working together:
The survey asks two main questions and should take a few minutes to fill out. (Scroll down to access it.)
- What topics do you want candidates to address as they compete for your vote?
- What specific questions, related to the topics above or others, do you want to see BRL ask candidates this year?
We plan to keep the survey open for several weeks. Then we’ll review your responses.
Your topics will become the bedrock of our reporting plan. They’ll keep us focused on what you need to know as the election intensifies.
We’ll also analyze the specific questions you want answered, identifying commonalities. From this, we’ll distill a few select questions that will shape our candidate interviews. Every candidate running for City of Boulder mayor and Boulder City Council will be asked these questions. Their responses will be published for all to see.
What’s so important about this election?
Every election is important. But this one is also somewhat historic.
In Boulder, for the first time residents will have the opportunity to directly elect their mayor through ranked-choice voting. Additionally, city council elections will determine the council’s majority, with five out of nine seats up for grabs. This opens possibilities for shaping Boulder’s future policy direction at a critical time.
While Boulder may be predominantly affiliated with the Democratic Party, the divisions within our community transcend national politics. They stem from hyperlocal concerns and Boulder-specific issues that hold importance to residents.
Throughout much of Boulder’s recent history, a primary division among candidates has revolved around land-use and housing development. One camp, often referred to as “slow growth” advocates, emphasizes preserving current zoning laws. Their policies have resulted in the city’s abundant open space that brings nature to our doorstep. Yet these same policies have limited development opportunities. On the other side are proponents of relaxing zoning laws to expand and diversify the housing supply. Their hope is to address escalating costs that have made the market unaffordable for most.
In addition to the longstanding land-use and housing division, several significant issues have gained prominence in recent years. These include concerns around homeless encampments and services, mental health and addiction supports, the future of policing, and the rising challenges related to crime and public safety. Of course, this is a simplified take on all that matters to Boulder. For us to truly know what issues you care about, we need you to take our survey.