For the first time, on Nov. 7, 2023, Boulder residents will directly elect their mayor using ranked-choice voting. Credit: Manny A. Williams

What are the priorities and questions Boulder voters want us to pursue in our 2023 local election reporting? We asked, and you told us. 

But first, why is the Nov. 7 election so important? For the first time, residents will directly elect Boulder’s mayor using ranked-choice voting. And with five out of nine city council seats open, council’s majority is up for grabs too. These two factors offer residents a big chance to shape Boulder’s future at a crucial time.

Hundreds of you responded to our survey, many with detailed, researched questions. We culled and analyzed, and found overwhelming similarities in what Boulderites asked. 

You told us you care most about: 

  1. Homelessness
  2. Affordable housing
  3. Zoning and land-use
  4. Public safety and crime
  5. Wildfire mitigation/climate change 
  6. Transportation 

These priorities are now our election reporting priorities.

In choosing what to ask candidates, we prioritized open-ended questions that would allow candidates to address big-picture challenges thoughtfully and expansively. Here are the specific questions we’re putting forward, each verbatim from our readers. In a few instances our editors did some minor tweaking for clarity. 

  1. What do you think are the most promising initiatives for reducing homelessness? 
  2. What approach would you take to address camping in our parks, on our bike paths and along our waterways? 
  3. What is your plan for increasing Boulder’s affordable housing supply?
  4. We are in a climate emergency. With your leadership, how would Boulder change commensurately?
  5. How can we better provide alternatives to cars when existing infrastructure prioritizes cars?
  6. Assume you are elected this November. Now imagine it’s November one year later. What one, specific thing will you have accomplished that you’re proud of? Put another way, what will define success for you after one year on council?

Our plan:

We sent all candidates for city council and mayor your six questions last week, but there’s still time for more to join the race. Aug. 28 is the deadline to register for the campaign, so we’ll make sure those who throw their hats in the ring between now and then receive your questions and have a chance to respond. We’re also creating separate questionnaires for candidates for BVSD’s Board of Education. 

We’ll begin publishing candidates’ answers on Sept. 15, 2023, Democracy Day. Leading up to the election, we’ll publish our own BRL Election Guide and round up the many other local guides that help Boulder voters understand the candidates and issues. (Check out our initial coverage of mayoral candidates and more.)

Between now and Nov. 7, we’ll also be reporting and publishing many other election-related stories we believe deserve your attention. Your feedback, however, and your articulated concerns will be the main focus of our reporting. 

Boulder Reporting Lab is a reader-supported news organization.

We need your help to realize this vision for in-depth, quality reporting this fall.

Today we’re launching a campaign to get 100 of our readers who are not yet contributors to donate for the first time. Donating makes you a BRL member, at any amount. The more supporters we bring on, the more resources we’ll have to get your burning election questions answered.

Will you support BRL with a tax-deductible donation? Click here to give now.

With your support we can ensure you’re informed, not just as you fill out your ballot, but as you continue to participate in your city’s democratic process. Once the election is over, your contribution will let us continue focusing our attention on producing impactful journalism that we publish free for all to read.

Stacy Feldman is the founder and publisher of Boulder Reporting Lab. She previously co-founded and was executive editor of Inside Climate News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit newsroom covering the climate emergency. She was a 2020-21 Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she developed the concept for BRL. Email:

Tim Drugan is the climate and environment reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering wildfires, water and other climate-related issues for Boulder with a focus on explanatory and solutions journalism. He also is the lead writer of BRL Today, our morning newsletter. Tim grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from UNH with a degree in English/Journalism. Email:

John Herrick is senior reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering housing, transportation, policing and local government. He previously covered the state Capitol for The Colorado Independent and environmental policy for He is interested in stories about people, power and fairness. Email:

Join the Conversation


  1. Seems as tho you have really nailed down the big questions for candidates! I’m wondering what their answers will be too. Thank you!

  2. I think it’s telling that all four top questions are basically the same question. After all, land use decisions that prevent greater density create housing that’s unaffordable, which in turn drives homelessness and thus crime.

    I suggest you look for the ways candidates draw these connections as well, because those who do have a chance to effect useful changes in policy, whereas those who don’t will be tilting at windmills.

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