Municipalities Matter, Especially on Nov. 7
For fun, I read municipal ballot questions.
I pretend they are homework assignments, written by cities and towns and graded by voters on election day. My guess most of them will get an “A” on Nov. 7.
Support for municipal government in our beloved Centennial State remains quite high. It is all about problem solving, and that is what city and town leaders in Colorado and across the nation do best.
You want to fix a road, repair a broken water treatment facility, build a trail or bike path, or address affordable housing? You will wait a while at the Statehouse, and it will be an eternity in Washington.
But, at the local level, you will get an answer pretty quick. That is what election day is all about.
We have nearly 80 cities and towns with ballot measures before local voters. Here are just few interesting ones I am watching (in no special order):
- Talk about thinking big - The more than $900 million bond package proposed by Denver for infrastructure and citywide public improvements is huge. Citizen participation and tremendous Mayor Michael Hancock–City Council collaboration framed this issue.
- This is matched in importance, though not in size dollar-wise, by Dillon. There, voters will review a $5 million bond issue for workforce housing. This is a critical issue up in the high country.
- Then there is just the plain interesting: Should Pueblo keep the council-manager system or go with a mayor-council system? Should a mayor be directly elected and a change be made in how councilmembers are elected in Castle Rock? Will term limits be eliminated in Red Cliff and Wray? Should Boulder continue its pursuit of municipal electrification? The fate of a tax measure may determine the outcome.
- Every one of the 69 times since 2005 when asked about municipal broadband, voters have said yes, with rarely below 70 percent in favor. My guess this election day, we’ll see another 16 of 16 pass. Telecom lobby, can you hear me now?
- Colorado Springs has struggled mightily to address its stormwater issues involving Fountain Creek. I admire the leadership of one of our state’s best mayors, John Suthers, working with his wonderful council to put forward to voters a modest fee increase to address this significant challenge. He did it with a sales tax increase for streets, and I predict resounding success this time around for stormwater.
- While many measures are placed on the ballot via the efforts of the municipal governing body, others are done with citizen initiatives. One example is in Denver, where voters will deal with “green” roofs and solar energy requirements for certain new construction.
Now, let me vent, and let me thank.
First, the venting.
There are a lot of nefarious outside interest groups trying to hijack some of our municipal elections. Municipal governance is about non-partisanship (state law says so) and doing what is right for the community with a broad leadership vision (that is what CML stands for at our core). I wish these groups with narrow interests on both sides of the political spectrum funded by who knows who would go back to where they came from and stay there. Ugh!
Now, more importantly, to the thanking.
I have a number of pals leaving the municipal family. I am going to list a bunch of names, and surely will have forgotten a few (apologies in advance). These are women and men who have served with distinction, often anonymously, without aspiration to higher office or for partisan or personal gain. Public service at the municipal level is the highest calling. It has been a pleasure to work for these folks and be on their team.
So, thank you and a tip of my Rockies baseball cap to: Don Allard (Arvada councilmember, a quarter century!), Steve Nawrocki (Pueblo council president, and a leader in southern Colorado), Kim Dykes (Brush councilmember), Chuck Schonberger (Brush mayor), Walt Magill (Steamboat council president), Bob McWilliams (Fort Lupton councilmember), Rene Bullock (Commerce City council member, the party never starts until Rene has arrived), Dick McClean (Brighton mayor, kind and decent), Tom Norton (Greeley mayor, a political mentor), Bruce Beckman (Littleton mayor), Dallas Hall (Sheridan mayor), Patrick Lawson (Sterling councilmember), Val Vigil (Thornton cpuncilmember, and one of my best friends), Mack Goodman (Thornton councilmember, and we see eye to eye on everything!), Brad Pierce (Aurora councilmember, gentle soul indeed), Barb Cleland (Aurora councilmember, past CML president, a leader, and my pal of very long standing), Gabe Santos (Longmont council member), Dennis Coombs (Longmont mayor, with the best smile in the state), Glenn Michel (Crested Butte mayor), Cathy Noon (Centennial mayor, and “Leader" is her middle name), Matt Appelbaum (Boulder councilmember, my teacher on many things), Lynn Horner (La Junta mayor), Jeffrey Huff (Castle Pines mayor), Alberto Garcia (Westminster councilmember, bleeds Westy through and through - I love it!), Joyce Jay (Wheat Ridge mayor, what a legacy on good things for the Carnation City), Shakti (Lakewood councilmember), and Tom Bishop (Greenwood village councilmember and one of the best investment bankers I have worked with).
Good luck to all those running for municipal office on Nov. 7. We will have preliminary results on ballot issues soon thereafter. CML newly elected official training will get underway in early 2018.
I love municipal election day, and I hope you do as well. Please vote.