Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 (Updated Nov. 19, 2019)
If you want a clear picture of Paul Cure’s candidacy for city council, just ask him specific questions about some of the city’s biggest issues.
Q: Are you in favor of the Opportunity Zone moratorium?
A: “There’s a sense of what dialogue is there that’s possible to happen.” (After repeating the question three times and arguing with Cure over why a straightforward answer was necessary, I was eventually able to wrangle a “No”.)
Q: How should the city balance spending on its homeless population between services and housing?
A: “It’s not a crime to be homeless. … But there also has to be the awareness of the support of civil servants in regards to the police and hospitals and the people who actually deal with” homeless populations.
Q: What are your top priorities?
A: “Not to have a sense of delay and ignore. There’s an extreme need to have a sense of we need to address practical problems so that we build consensus to allow for there to be movement.”
Q: What are your top priorities? (asked again)
A: I just want to be that young voice.
Cure is rarely willing to offer details of his plans to address the city’s problems. I repeatedly pressed for specifics; he repeatedly offered vague and rambling statements filled with buzzwords like “working families” and “private-public partnerships.”
Cure argued, perhaps correctly, that the statements he was offering would give voters enough of a picture to make up their own minds.
“I’ve always been of the opinion, especially during things like this, running for city council, there has to be a degree of saying, ‘This is what I represent, this is what I want to get accomplished,’” he said. “I think I’ve done a pretty good job of saying what I want to get accomplished and who I represent.
“Instead of bringing things to the table, I just want a seat at the table.”
Cure pushed back harder on my insistence on detail. He suggested I was calling him dishonest, seeming to equate specific policies with “promising and not delivering.” He insisted that the two of us simply practice different styles of journalism — and his tone and word choice made plain that he did not see the value in my style.
Cure’s claim to journalism is his valuable and interesting discussion series, “We Need to Talk,” with themes such as Power, Beauty, Truth and Justice. While this could be considered a form of journalism, what I’m attempting to do is tell voters what this man will do and how he will vote on key issues, if elected to office.
Cure showed one other troubling example of nonchalance in the face of criticism.
It was about 19 minutes and 33 seconds into our interview for this profile. We met at the main library because it’s a special place for Cure. His girls, 11 and 6, spend a lot of time there participating in programs, and he helped with the installation of a sculpture this summer. It’s great to have a place truly for the people, he told me, paid for with tax dollars but free and open to everyone.
While we were initially seated in the library’s cafe, I asked Cure if he would mind walking during our interview. “Sure, babe,” he replied.
“Did you just call me babe?” I asked. I’ve met Cure only once before, for five minutes. He is a middle-aged man; I’m a 31-year-old female journalist, interviewing him about his run for city council.
Yes, he confirmed, he did.
Well, don’t, I said.
Cure laughed. He calls everyone hon and sweetie, he said. (I later confirmed that he has, indeed, called several other women sweetie or hon or babe and, when asked to stop, laughed off their concerns.)
“I’m like a ’50s waitress,” he said by way of explanation.
But he’s not a waitress, and this is not the ’50s. He is a man, addressing grown women with terms of endearment and brushing aside their collective requests to cease doing so.
Like many women faced with inappropriate behavior, it took me a little while to feel how uncomfortable this interaction made me. I could have followed up with Cure, pressed for an apology beyond my initial boundary-setting attempts. Maybe I would have gotten one, eventually.
But then I remember something Cure himself said when I was pushing him for policy specifics.
At a certain point, he said, “if a person is giving you the answers, this is what that person gives.”
Endorsed by: Boulder Daily Camera
Relevant op-eds: None
Who he says he represents: Working families, farmers
Top priorities: Representing working families; housing at Alpine-Balsam and a “dedicated vision” for the Civic Area; combatting the sense of fear and “hysteria” to find “common ground” in political conversations
Why you might want to vote for Cure: Cure is a hard worker and active community member. He serves as a receptionist at City Club; he coaches his daughters’ swim team. A renter, he would bring that diversity to the current council of all homeowners.
Cure clearly has listened to the community. His answers display a consideration of multiple viewpoints and a desire for balance, and his vision for city government is in tune with many residents who feel unheard and unrepresented.
“I think most people when they think of council, they just want a functioning government, that sense of, ‘You got this?’ They just want that confidence that their values are being represented, that the direction of the town is a direction they actually resonate with.”
When former councilwoman Jill Grano left her post, “I really felt that was a huge void,” Cure said. “There were a lot of times I would be like, ‘Who is my voice on council?’ Who is representing young families?”
He also shares the sense of frustration among certain parts of the community that elected officials are more reactive than proactive in addressing the city’s needs.
“To what degree are we being more of a firefighter and waiting for problems to happen to address them?” he asked. “There has to be a sense of accomplishment. That (missing) sense is why people have such a negative view of council at times, because they do feel it’s obstructionist and there is a sense of we’re just going to talk about it for the next five years without having a project done.”
Why you might not want to vote for Cure: Though Cure’s vision may resonate with the community, he lacks a clear way forward to realize that vision. Declining to give specifics can cover up a lack of knowledge or a show a desire to avoid future accountability for broken promises. Or, it could simply be what Cure insists it is: a difference in communication styles.
His response to that criticism is equally important to consider. Cure went on the offense when pressed. Combined with his habit of speaking condescendingly to women and declining to apologize when confronted, his behavior paints a picture of a man who won’t be held accountable. For an elected official, that’s a disastrous quality.
Cure on the issues
Housing: Cure referenced the failed Twin Lakes development as an example where opposition to housing was justified: “I think people were rightly scared that (open space) was going to be infringed upon,” he said. He would prefer to see development along “corridors” and would encourage the city to “build relationships” with property owners and developers..
Homelessness: Cure had no suggestions for how best to balance spending on services versus housing of the homeless, nor any critique or praise for the city’s approach. He did demonstrate a balance in approaching the issue and a willingness to consider multiple viewpoints.
“You have to address it,” he said, praising the efforts of Attention Homes and the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless. “It’s not a crime to be homeless. … But there also has to be the awareness of the support of civil servants in regards to the police and hospitals and the people who actually deal with” homeless populations.
He went into slightly more detail at the Boulder Chamber forum, acknowledging the concern many unhoused residents have about the city’s coordinated entry system. They often prefer to remain on the streets than access services, Cure said, something that advocates have also reported.
“There is no easy answer,” he said. “but there has to be more outreach (and) listening and less telling them what to do.”
CU South / Flood mitigation: It was difficult from Cure’s answer to assess how much he knew about the specifics of the project. His answer did seem to indicate that he believed housing should go there rather than classrooms.
Though Cure didn’t have specifics on how he would have done things differently, he is critical of city council’s approach.
The project “is an extreme example of council putting themselves in the way as an obstruction to what was best for the community,” he said. “Do you have a balance? Right now on council, I don’t see that. All I see on council is obstruction and an inability to have the courage of their convictions and say, ‘Look, this is what is needed.’”
Lethal control of prairie dogs: Cure is solidly in favor of council’s vote to explore lethal control as a means of population management.
“I don’t consider it a hot issue. I’m a farmer; I have been around farmers for the past 15 to 20 years. I see the destruction of the landscape and the livelihoods of these families. I think the best stewards of the land are the ones actually tending the land. Being able to attend to the problems — whether that be prairie dogs, bug infestations, weed infestations, tree infestations, cross-pollination — (the approach) has to be multifaceted. The reason (prairie dogs) are a problem is that they were not addressed.”
Police oversight: Cure wasn’t familiar with the police oversight task force that had been formed, the March for Police Oversight that was held or the city council’s special meeting on racism. His main source on the issue, according to his comments, has been Nikhil Mankekar, chair of the city’s Human Relations Commission. Mankekar has been involved in issues of social justice, including this one, but Cure inaccurately credited Mankekar with the entire effort to increase civilian oversight of Boulder’s police department.
“There’s the admiration Nikhil did this on his own.”
Mankekar, following the publishing of this article, said he did not recall a discussion with Cure on this issue.
He also responded to the question with praise for the police department’s Community Police Academy program and the need to “see things from both sides.”
Attended March for Police Oversight: No
Attended city council meeting on racism: No
Budget: Cure admitted to being “not very familiar” with the city’s budget. He advocated for “tax cuts” and “incentive-based housing” to support working families, as well as the pursuit of unspecified “public-private partnerships.” His answer at the Boulder Chamber forum was similarly vague, including a reference to tax incentives to attract the types of businesses Boulder wants.
His one specific proposal, given during the interview, was to start charging entrance fees to popular parks and open space trails during peak times like holidays.
“There has to be a sense of opportunity of charging at high-traffic times (the) tourists who are coming to town and doing a lot of the damage,” he said, “whether that be the Fourth of July or Labor Day weekend.”
Neighborhood input on development: Cure showed empathy for the concerns of neighbors and the need to move things forward. His suggestions for how to balance them — “more dialogue” and “listening sessions” along with “timelines” and hard “stop dates” — are in line with what the city already does on major projects, so it’s unclear what he would change. He did suggest that a “reframe” was needed to take the “negativity” out of the conversation, including a rebranding of the word “development.”
“What I would frame it as is the ability for our neighborhoods to become more vibrant and accessible to many.”
Cure also said, during the Raucous Caucus, that immediate neighbors should have more say on development in their area than the city as a whole. (The question was put to candidates during a lightning round and responded to in a yes/no format.)
“Neighbors are just concerned about the direction and makeup and landscape of their city,” he said during this interview. “It’s not just their city; it’s their home. I completely agree with that.” There’s going to be fallout, there’s going to be people who have varying points of view, and that’s fine. That’s called democracy. I hope there isn’t a universal sense of agreement.”
Occupancy limits: Cure is not in favor of a “blanket rule” for the entire community. Issues of over-occupancy need to be addressed on a “case-by-case” basis, he said.
“There needs to be a sense of, ‘Hey, let’s take this as this comes.’ We’re going to have unique situations.”
Municipalization: Cure during this interview described his stance as “tempered enthusiasm,” but during the Raucous Caucus was one of three candidates to hold up a red paddle indicating non-support for the muni during a lightning-round question.
He expressed significant doubts about whether Boulder can keep a utility up and running during a national disaster for a reasonable cost. He offered (mild) praise for Xcel’s efforts to green its system, which he doubled down on during an early September PLAN candidate forum.
“What is it that we’re fighting for?” Cure was quoted as saying in the Camera. “Is there a degree that it’s more about municipalization rather than a sense of carbon reduction? I am for carbon reduction.”
Hill hotel: Cure would support this project “as a friend of Dakota (Soifer’s),” who owns Cafe Aion. He is fully supportive of revitalization on the Hill but he questions the hotel itself as an “interesting choice.”
“Would you want to spend money at a hotel where you have kids partying at 2 a.m.?” he asked.
Nonetheless, it’s what business owners say they want there, and council should listen to them, Cure said. “We have to get out of the way sometimes.”
Council’s use of moratoria generally: “I’m hesitant toward it,” Cure said. “I’m hesitant for government to place that sense of authority on people.”
Opportunity Zone moratorium: Cure is not in favor. “That was a huge opportunity to incentivize the private landowner to want to take advantage of the opportunity zone.”
Height limit moratorium: Cure is in favor of keeping the lower height limit in place west of 28th but lifting it east of 28th — even without a vote of the people to permanently lower the voter-approved 55-foot height limit in the city charter. That flies in the face of Cure’s earlier statement on moratoria and not giving elected officials too much power, but he argues that Boulder’s views are critical to the character of the city.
“We have to stay true to what I believe Boulder was founded on during the ’70s, of what Boulder has really thrived on,” Cure said. “I do feel you have to ask council to stay true to (that).”
Author’s note: This article had been updated to clarify that Cure wanted to keep the moratorium on building to the city’s height limit in place west of 28th, not east as originally stated. It also has been updated to reflect Cure’s endorsement by the Daily Camera and Mankekar’s assertion that he and Cure never discussed police oversight.
— Shay Castle, firstname.lastname@example.org, @shayshinecastle
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