The day after an election, Boulder, meaning we’re rife with election news. That’s why this newsletter is long. Hopefully it’s also useful.

John Herrick and I spent time by ballot boxes yesterday, asking voters about why they voted the way they did. Then we bounced around several watch parties, talking to those who were involved in the election’s campaigns. As with every election, the results made some happy and others not.

The most notable local outcomes from this election revolve around ballot measures. John Herrick put together a comprehensive results story that we’ll update as more come in. I’ve also flagged the results that are probably of high interest to you. Last night, we reported figures, race by race, through a special edition newsletter.

Have a happy Wednesday. And if you voted, thanks for doing that.

— Tim, reporter

What to know today

Nice on nice: Extra nice weather today, moderately nice weather tomorrow. 60s and sunny will be supplanted by 40s with clouds.

Contested local election results: Though as I referred to above, John Herrick has written a story that we’re updating with results as they flow in, I’ll give a brief rundown for those who are too busy for an extra click. So far, nearly 70 percent of ballots have been counted.

  • CU South annexation moves ahead: The referendum that would have stalled CU’s development of its south property appears likely to fail. Based on reactions from some, it doesn’t sound like it’s the end of the fight.
  • City elections move to even years: The measure aimed at increasing voter participation passed, a shift that could have far-reaching implications on Boulder politics. Detractors are worried even-year voters will now be overwhelmed by long ballots, and odd-year voters will be fewer, affecting local school board races, which are held in odd years.
  • No library district just yet: Though still too close to confirm, it seems things are leaning towards no library district for Boulder as of now.
  • All fire measures approved: The city climate tax passed with gusto. The countywide fire mitigation sales tax and emergency funding sales tax also passed. May the wildland division rejoice.

Some statewide results:

  • Affordable housing helped: A measure to aid statewide efforts in the affordable space remains tight, with 51% in favor. If it passes, it will move the state towards addressing one piece of its housing problem.
  • Magic mushrooms decriminalized: The measure is similarly close, with 51% in favor. If it passes, the fungi — researched for their aid in PTSD, anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses — would be legal to grow and possess, but not sell.
  • No on booze: All three alcohol related measures appear to have lost, though the closest to passing was wine being sold in grocery stores. No Trader Joe’s three buck chuck for Coloradans.

Other election results:

  • Junie Joseph to represent House District 10: Joseph beat her challenger to become the first Black woman to represent the City of Boulder at the state legislature.
  • Ashley Stolzmann replaces Matt Jones: Stolzmann, whose electrification efforts BRL reported on, will move from her position as Mayor of Louisville to a Boulder County Commissioner.
  • Polis still governor: Polis beat Heidi Ganahl with room to spare, suggesting that Colorado isn’t nearly as purple as it once was.
  • Bennet maintains seat: In a nationally watched race, Bennet beat Joe O’Dea by more than 10 percentage points.
  • Neguse keeps his job: Joe is still in the house for another couple years.
  • There’s a new sheriff: In town, or in the county. Curtis Johnson, a division chief with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, was elected in an uncontested race for county sheriff. Johnson will replace Sheriff Joe Pelle, who was first elected in 2003.
  • Tracy Bernett wins, awkwardly: Bernett is facing felony charges for not living where she said she was. Who knows yet what the future holds for her.
  • Check out data as returns come in today: Countywide results. Statewide results. Countywide ballot return data.

Reactions to election results: In our time at watch parties, John and I got insight into the headspace of those most invested in given campaigns. Here are some of those tidbits:

  • Helen Burnside, from the repeal CU South campaign, made it sound like the repeal folks won’t take defeat lying down. “If it doesn’t pass tonight, we will be circling back and figuring out what’s next.”
  • On the repeal not passing: “I’m worried that disinformation will carry the day. But I’m hopeful that maybe Boulder voters care about getting some students housed and saving lives,” said Councilmemember Rachel Friend, who first ran for city council in 2019 by campaigning for flood mitigation.
  • Ben Binder, staunch repeal supporter, wasn’t optimistic. “If this [referendum] doesn’t pass, we’re fucked,” he said candidly.
  • “It’s gonna be one of these, ‘It’s not over till it’s over,’” said Crystal Gray, a former city councilmember who was closely involved with the campaign opposing the library district. “But I think even if it does pass, we’ll all still be involved because we all love our libraries. That’s what’s unique about this issue. On both sides people love our libraries.”
  • “We will have city councilors and we will have a mayor who are more inclined to listen to and represent folks in our city who are younger, people of color and renters,” Lisa Sweeney-Miran, a BVSD board member and volunteer for the even-year election campaign, said during an election night party, responding to the measure’s likely victory. “Boulder considers itself a progressive city. But for a very long time we have been enacting policies that are stagnant.”
  • “There’s never going to be a shortage of ballot initiatives,” said Jim Hooton, who was the treasurer for the campaign that opposed moving city council to even-year elections. “That’s one of the best parts of Colorado, how easy it is to get something on the ballot. But that means city council will not be getting the consideration they need.”

Men on the street: John Herrick and I also spent time near ballot boxes yesterday. Here are a sampling of quotes from our conversations with Boulderites.

  • Becky Whitmer said that voting for the library district felt better than anything else, because it was a personal issue. “I use the libraries personally,” she said.
  • She also voted for the climate tax, though wasn’t optimistic about its reach with climate change accelerating as it is. “I don’t know if it’ll do any good,” she said. “But I still voted for it.”
  • “My knee jerk is to say no [to CU developing the land],” said Caitlin Barritt who voted against the repeal. “But CU owns it, and there is going to be development. It’s just a matter of when and how.”
  • Alex Fisher said she enthusiastically voted for 1B, or the sales tax to fund emergency services. “My neighbors are rescue workers,” she said. “I want to make sure there’s funding for them.”
  • Patrice Stout said she voted against the library district citing concern about what might happen to the budget money that would have funded the library but now wouldn’t if a district formed. “I love libraries,” she said. “But I’m always skeptical about money just going into the general fund.” (City council has said it would engage in a public process for reallocating the funds.)
  • Kyle Wilsdon and Jeff Borchardt said decriminalizing psychedelic substances was a top priority for them. “It’s really important to make [psychedelics] available to people,” Borchardt said. Wilsdon agreed. “I’ve been a fan of psychedelics for years,” he said.
  • Garrett Joyner said there were many issues he left blank on his ballot. “I haven’t been a part of the [Boulder] community long enough to say what’s best for it,” he said, citing only moving here in August. “But I was getting lots of local election ads on Hulu though, which was weird.”

Go deeper

Boulder County 2022 election results: Even-year elections to pass, CU South annexation repeal poised to fail 

By John Herrick

City of Boulder voters likely have approved a ballot measure to move city council elections to even years to coincide with federal and state elections — with nearly 60% of voters favoring the change that could increase turnout and have significant impact on the political leanings of the Boulder City Council. 

“Doubling the turnout in our local elections is a massive deal,” Chelsea Castellano, a political organizer who volunteered on the campaign to pass the measure, said during a jubilant election night watch party at a home in downtown Boulder. 

Meanwhile, a measure to repeal the city’s agreement with the University of Colorado to annex the CU South property appears poised to fail, clearing the way for the South Boulder property to be developed, at least temporarily. Early election night results indicate nearly 54% of voters rejected the measure. 

A ballot measure to create a property tax-funded library district appears too close to call. 

Unsurprisingly, Boulder voters overwhelmingly supported a new tax on utility bills to pay for climate-related projects. The climate tax would replace existing surcharges on utility bills, though some residents will pay more, particularly business owners. The new rates will take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. 

The Boulder County Clerk and Recorder received 147,364 ballots, indicating about 66% of the county’s active registered voters participated in this year’s election. That’s a notable decline from about 82% in 2018, the most recent midterm election without a race for U.S. president. 

Continue reading…

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Covid in Boulder County: Nov. 9, 2022

  • 62 daily new cases (7-day avg.) ⬆️ Up 23% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 18 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) ⬆️ Up from a high of 12 last week.
  • 71% percent of ICU is occupied. ⬆️ Up from avg. of 64% since July 2020.

ICYMI


Tim Drugan

Tim Drugan covers wildfires, water and other climate change-related issues for Boulder Reporting Lab 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.