Every city in Colorado is having a city council election right now. So what makes Boulder so special? For a very simple reason -- the voters here are nuts. Our city council election gives everyone the chance to once again say, "only in Boulder..."
What's so special about Boulder? Some say it's crazy left but that's not accurate. Yes we are looking at closing libraries while spending half a million a year on relocating prairie dogs. Yes it's virtually impossible for someone who works in the private sector to get elected because they might be beholden to "the man."
But at the same time, the "liberals" (endorsed by the Sierra Club) endorse policies that tend to increase the carbon footprint of the city while the "conservatives," who would be way too liberal to get elected in any other city in the state, endorse policies that would reduce the carbon footprint of the city.
Boulder is different. And while most of us living here like to complain about the insanity of our city, it's also what makes Boulder a place that we love living in. We love the difference.
And so on to this particular election...
We face an interesting question in this race: should we freeze Boulder in amber or should we continue to have a city that is unique and special, but also evolves as we move forward into the future. Or to put it another way, if NCAR didn't exist and it was proposed -- do we want a City Council that would approve it or one that would send them to another city?
The freeze in amber side actually sounds a lot like Ronald Reagan talking about how Boulder was better 40 years ago and wanting to return to that time. This will lead Boulder to be much like Charleston, South Carolina, where no building can be changed in the historic area (and it is close to impossible elsewhere). This will make Boulder even more appealing for those it attracts which will continue to increase house prices and accelerate the outflow of the middle class.
The side arguing for continued evolution (which in any other city would be viewed as too slow growth to ever get elected) makes a lot of the same noises about how Boulder was better in the past. But they do talk about the need for Boulder to continue to evolve. And in that evolution, try to retain some middle class here through increased density and additional building. This is similar to Portland, Oregon, where they continue to have a unique city, but it is evolving with strong efforts to provide higher density around mass transit trunk lines, etc.
I think we face another question on these two directions. A city that is static is not one that will bring in additional government labs and foster high-tech start-up companies. People who live in a museum are preserving the past, not imagining the future. Both are important. But we need to think about do we want to continue to foster Boulder as a place for innovative work and groundbreaking research -- or do we want to see that slowly move elsewhere as we lock Boulder in time.
So I have two sets of endorsements. People already know which direction they want to see Boulder go. The question is which candidates will take them in that direction. So here are the candidates that I think will best take you in each direction.
2½ seats are "safe"
Incumbents are almost always safe in Boulder. So Suzy Ageton and Matt Appelbaum will get re-elected. (Yes many are unhappy with Matt, but not enough to keep him out of the top five -- probably.) Macon Cowles is also an incumbent but he has become the symbol of the F.A.R. legislation. If there is a strong reaction against it, he could lose.
So with that, here are my endorsements depending on your preference. I only list four on each because of the safe seats. They are listed in preference order.
Go the Charleston route
Go the Portland route
My evaluation criteria
I offered to interview all of the candidates (and to buy them lunch). All except Rob Smoke accepted and I sat down and talked to each for an hour. My take on each interview is posted here on my blog as well as the recording of the interview (the recording is not posted for KC Becker as that was a condition of her being interviewed). I also have followed the articles in the Camera and the Q&As posted by a couple of the interest groups. I have not attended any forums and I have not watched any broadcasts (I'm very Internet centric).
This entire effort and selection is made solely by me. I have traded emails with a couple of people (not candidates) about this, mainly to bounce my thoughts about the choice of direction the city faces in this election. Here is my thumbnail on each candidate:
You can find more info on each candidate including their websites, Boulder Daily Camera interviews, etc. at Boulder City Council candidate & election.