Especially on November 6
There has been a lot of chatter around Colorado about the 13 statewide ballot measures on next month’s ballot (and we at CML have taken a position on four – most strongly in opposition to Amendment 74). I would like to take a moment now to talk about the many municipal measures on the ballot.
There are more than 150 questions being asked of municipal voters around the state – some related to marijuana, others to broadband, and several more to taxes and debt authority – but the common theme that runs through them is a desire for local leaders to commit to and invest in their community’s future.
The majority of tax issues and requests for debt are being made to fund some of the most basic needs of residents, including roads, wastewater, and public safety. City councils and boards of trustees understand and appreciate their responsibility to build a safe and resilient community with high quality of life – and in Colorado, voters have demonstrated time and time again that they have faith in their local elected officials to do just that. Since 1993, the majority of municipal tax questions (61 percent) and debt questions (69 percent) have passed, and those percentages have been improving in recent years. Revenue retention measures also fare well, passing about 86 percent of the time.
A recent Gallup poll confirms this confidence in local government: 72 percent of U.S. adults said they trust their local government, even if only 63 percent could say the same about their state government.
Broadband elections are another example of communities wishing to take their future into their own hands. So far, 93 out of 93 municipalities that have asked for voter authorization to opt out of SB-152’s prohibition on municipally owned or operated broadband infrastructure have received it. That’s right, 100 percent. This fall, eight more cities and towns will ask for authorization; I predict we will see similar results.
Municipal elections are nonpartisan, issue-driven, and a beautiful example of representative democracy. I will be keeping an eye on a couple of elections that I think highlight Colorado’s penchant for local control. The first is Golden, where voters will consider whether or not to lower the voting age to 16 in municipal elections. The other is Castle Pines, where voters will decide whether to form a home rule charter commission.
Ballots are long this year, which can mean an increase in excitement, but could also lead to fatigue. Voters will see multiple pages of federal, state, and county questions before they get to their municipal measures. Encourage your residents to vote their ballots to the end (or even start from the bottom up!) because we all know the best way to solve local problems is to implement local solutions.
An outline of all of the municipal measures can be found here.