Corina Julca promised transparency. Then she declined this interview.

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Corina Julca, mother, renter, Peruvian immigrant and city council candidate.

Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 (Updated Oct. 13, 2019)

Corina Julca is an immigrant from Peru, where she worked as a school teacher. She is a stay-at-home mother. She rents an apartment on Glenwood between 30th and 28th streets in an area designated a federal opportunity zone. 

Julca is opposed to this designation, which allows taxes on capital gains to be deferred, delayed or eliminated entirely by investing in projects in certain census tracts. A Trump administration tax policy, the program was supposed to spur rejuvenation of run-down areas. (Boulder’s opportunity zone was nominated because it contains the largely empty Diagonal Plaza.) But as chronicled by the New York Times, it has become a vehicle for wealthy investors to squirrel away cash in low-risk, upscale locations. 

For this reason, Julca is in favor of the ban on development and demolition that council put in place last December. She has publicly expressed concern that older apartment buildings like hers could be redeveloped into luxury rentals beyond the financial reach of current tenants. 

Beyond that, there isn’t much to say about Julca. After ignoring multiple requests for interviews over three months — one made in person, two over email and one indirectly through a campaign volunteer — Julca declined to be interviewed following a second in-person request.

A newcomer to Boulder’s political scene, Julca nonetheless gained the endorsements of two political groups: PLAN-Boulder and Together4Boulder, as well as the local Sierra Club. Though her public comments are sparse, she has expressed slow-growth views in line with those entities.

Notably, at a PLAN-sponsored forum, the Daily Camera reported that Julca was in favor of reducing the number of jobs in Boulder in order to correct the city’s jobs-to-housing imbalance.

But Julca’s main platform has been about the opportunity zone. She spoke at the December 2018 public hearing, urging the adoption of an emergency moratorium to prevent the demolition of older apartment buildings in the area. She repeated a similar message at a recent city council meeting regarding zoning changes and potential lifting of the moratorium (which she is against).

It’s a plea that has become central to Julca’s campaign, one that she has repeated at nearly every public appearance: find a way to preserve Boulder’s housing.

Beyond that, Julca hasn’t expanded much on her beliefs in a forum other than her campaign website, which details a mix of policies and ideas often promoted by slow-growth advocates.

Julca’s website policies have not always translated into her public statements. At forums, Julca’s answers were often bordering incoherent, missing the point of the question entirely.

For example, during a bilingual forum hosted by the League of Women Voters and the local NAACP, Julca was asked how she would handle the workload of being on council. It would have been the perfect opportunity for her to mention a proposal on her website that each city council member be assigned a personal assistant, something councilwoman Cindy Carlisle advocated for heavily — and solely, before Mirabai Nagle joined her — last year. No other candidate has floated this idea, and it didn’t gain traction even among current council members due to the cost and concerns over transparency.

Instead, this is how Julca responded: “I might be the perfect fit for city council. This is going to be the job of every one of you: The voters are going to decide. What we’re presenting now is promises. One thing I can promise is transparency. Our government right now is terrible. Who is not disappointed by politicians? I am, but I’m here promising things to you.”

Who she says she represents: N/A

Endorsed by: PLAN-Boulder, Together4Boulder, Indian Peaks Sierra Club (not an endorsement, per se, but Julca received 100% on the Planned Parenthood questionnaire)

Campaign filings: https://election.bouldercolorado.gov/report.php?report=CandE&statementID=1098

Why you might want to vote for her: As an immigrant, a Latina, a Spanish-speaker and a renter, Julca would bring diversity to council.

Why you might not want to vote for her: Despite Julca’s promise of transparency, she was the only candidate who did not agree to an interview despite repeated attempts. As such, there is no way to gauge her level of knowledge on Boulder’s issues or her ability to think on her feet, respond to criticism or critically evaluate difficult topics. 

Her few public appearances have not inspired confidence. Her answers have been vague and frequently reference the opportunity zone, even if not germane to the question at hand. 

More disturbing than the possible inadequacies that can be covered up by dodging an interview is the lack of accountability. Journalists serve as the go-between for residents and their government. They provide information and get answers that regular citizens sometimes cannot. 

Julca did sit down with the Daily Camera, a valuable source of information for voters and residents. The paper’s editorial board was impressed with Julca but characterized her as “not quite prepared for prime time.”

However, the Camera’s content is behind a paywall and will provide election information in English only. Boulder Beat is free and available to anyone who wants to access it; election information will be available in Spanish and English.

By declining to interview, Julca is demonstrating that she is less dedicated to all residents than other candidates, every one of whom sat for interviews. An elected official who does not interact with journalists cannot be held accountable to any but those residents who already have access.

Julca on the issues

Housing: Julca has repeatedly stated that Boulder needs to preserve existing housing. How, exactly, she hasn’t said, but she has indicated she would like to prevent demolitions in many areas of the city. 

She is also in favor of raising impact fees and tweaking the cash-in-lieu option to encourage building on-site affordable housing. “The only way we can make (housing) affordable is if we build it,” she said at the NAACP forum.

During a candidate forum hosted by the Boulder Chamber, Julca’s answer indicated that she believes in-commuters don’t want to live in Boulder: There are bigger houses in Longmont and Westminster, she said.

A 2014 city survey found that roughly half of middle-income earners driving to work in Boulder would prefer smaller homes in the city to commuting.

Homelessness: N/A

CU South/flood mitigation: Julca has not spoken about this issue in public. On her website, she states that the land owned by the University of Colorado “is not the ideal location for a new campus.” She suggests that CU should consider a land swap (though she doesn’t say what property the city would offer), something the university has rejected in the past.

Julca also doubts the findings of city staff and hired consultants. “Expensive studies for flood containment have been conducted by the city omitting key information and players,” her website reads.

Budget: Julca fielded a question about this during a forum. Reading from her notes, she said she would prioritize safety, basic services like water, traffic management, parks and recreation, support of local businesses, and open space.

However, she added, “I can’t say one service is more important than the other.”

Also budget related is Julca’s idea to pay for assistants for all council members, which earlier this year was estimated to cost more than $750,000 annually. Julca has also advocated in public for a head tax, another Carlisle suggestion, to pay for citywide EcoPasses. (On her website, Julca says money currently spent on EcoPasses should become the “foundation” for free bus routes serving city residents and workers.)

Police oversight: N/A

Attended March for Police Oversight: N/A

Attended city council listening session on racism: N/A

Hill hotel: N/A

Lethal control of prairie dogs: N/A

Occupancy limits: N/A

Muni: Julca supports the city’s efforts to create a municipal electric utility.

Council’s use of moratoria: N/A

Opportunity Zone moratorium: Julca is in favor of this moratorium.

Height limit moratorium: N/A

Neighborhood opposition to development: Julca has not addressed this directly, but her website has a tab devoted to “development controversies.” On the two she lists, Alpine-Balsam and CU South, Julca sides with neighbors having a greater say over outcomes than the city as a whole.

She pledges to “revisit” the redevelopment of Alpine-Balsam. She doesn’t support building at CU South.

Author’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the Daily Camera editorial board comments on Julca. It may be updated further with additional or clarifying information.

— Shay Castle, boulderbeatnews@gmail.com, @shayshinecastle. Edited by Deanna Hardies.

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11 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Your journalism is even more biased than Sam Lounsberry’s in the Camera. You painted “The Coalition” candidates in the best possible light and trashed One of PLAN Boulder’s candidates (Brian Dolan). Corina Julca is completely in the right to decline an interview with you. Your reasons on why you might not want to vote for her take up multiple paragraphs contrasting with a one sentence reason on why you might want to vote for her. Spite over a lack of access to a blog is not a legitimate reason to trash her candidacy.

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    • Hi, William, thanks for your comment. I was hard on Brian Dolan because he knew nothing about about any of the issues… A pretty important quality for an candidate who will soon be making decisions and spending your tax dollars. If you think I was only critical of PLAN candidates, I suggest you read my profiles of Paul Cure and Gala Orba. The “why you might not want to vote” sections are all longer because I think any “negative” analysis deserves more thought and explanation, plus a chance for candidates to defend themselves. Lastly, it is absolutely fair to evaluate a candidate based on responsiveness to the media. Trump gets all kind of shit for being critical of the press. Cory Gardner is being roundly criticized for dodging questions. Are we using a different value system for our local candidates? I’m not spiteful: I’m presenting valuable and truthful information relevant to how a candidate may conduct themselves in office. Also, dismissing my work as just a blog — even as you are clearly reading it and getting value from it — is disingenuous. I did deep interviews and research and presented fair, critical evaluations that included criticism of EVERY candidate. Crying media bias is an old trick. It’s been leveled at the Camera for years. If multiple journalists point out problems with candidates, there’s something there. To use an old phrase: It’s not us, it’s you.

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  2. I feel that you and the Camera have allowed your editorial biases to infect your reporting. Pointing this out is not disingenuous. Are you were willing to offer a question and answer interview with Corina Julca (over the phone to avoid bias) that you were willing to print verbatim? If not I have to support her decision to avoid your editorializing. Paul Cure and Gale Orba were probably never going to be elected and were not endorsed by anyone important locally so that’s a straw man argument. You have effectively endorsed Better Boulder and Open Boulder’s candidates in your interviews. If I feel your site is thinly veiled propaganda and engage with you on your site that doesn’t imply I respect your site as a news source. After The Daily Camera fired pro development editor Dan Krieger over a blog he posted I didn’t respect the Camera as a News source either but that doesn’t mean I can afford to ignore it as a force in local politics. Corina Julca made the strategic decision to ignore you. Many Democratic politicians avoid FOX news for the same reason, I don’t agree with them but I understand.

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    • Thanks again for your comments, William.
      I conducted most of these interviews before endorsements were made, including Paul, Brian and Gala’s. I first reached out to Corina weeks before endorsements were made for an interview. I knew nothing about her and the first time I’d heard of her was at the Chamber forum.
      Every other candidate sat for an interview; why does Corina deserve special treatment? Yes, it is certainly her right: it is also voters’ right to know that she made that choice.
      I accept that you don’t find value in my work (why you still read it, I’m not sure). I stand by my format and I stand by my content. Journalists observe and report. How candidates respond to criticism, how well they know issues, their ability to engage with the press and the public… these are all important pieces of information for voters that many residents are grateful for.
      It’s clear we’re not going to agree about the qualifications or lack thereof for Julca and Dolan. I stand by my concerns about their respective lack of engagement and knowledge and grasp of factual information. Politicians refusing to engage with the press is problematic, for the reasons I shared. This is true regardless of ideology.
      It’s clear from you statements that you regard all media who presents information contrary to your beliefs as biased. Painting Dave Krieger and Sam Lounsberry as pro-development is absurd and lazy. The Camera, for its many flaws, does wonderful reporting. And Dave was a tireless voice for sanity and no bullshit in this town. Their work is respected by many who know what good journalism is. As is mine.
      Best to you,
      Shay

      Like

  3. Also multiple journalists would imply more than just you. Could you back up that statement with other unfavorable news stories about Corina Julca?

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  4. I feel that you and the Camera have allowed your editorial biases to infect your reporting. Pointing this out is not disingenuous. Are you were willing to offer a question and answer interview with Corina Julca (over the phone to avoid bias) that you were willing to print verbatim? If not I have to support her decision to avoid your editorializing. Paul Cure and Gale Orba were probably never going to be elected and were not endorsed by anyone important locally so that’s a straw man argument. You have effectively endorsed all of Better Boulder and Open Boulder’s candidates in your interviews. If I feel your site is thinly veiled propaganda and engage with you on your site that doesn’t imply I respect your site as a news source. After The Daily Camera fired pro development editor Dan Krieger over a blog he posted I didn’t respect the Camera as a News source either but that doesn’t mean I can afford to ignore it as a force in local politics. Corina Julca made the strategic decision to ignore you. Many Democratic politicians avoid FOX news for the same reason, I don’t agree with them but I understand.

    Like

  5. Since you’re an expert about Boulder’s local journalism scene I would love to hear more about The Daily Camera firing Dave Krieger detailing how and why this happened. I would also like to hear your opinion on why I should trust a paper that fires one of its best local journalists (your appraisal) when he blogs something (as a private citizen) they don’t like. If Dave Krieger was really as good as you say he was why should I still trust The Daily Camera?

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  6. Dave Kriegers firing sent a message to all the good reporters at the Daily Camera to never piss off the owner; Alden Global Capital. How are the reporters of the Daily Camera supposed to report the news in an unbiased way with a sword of damocles over their heads? I will take the Camera’s reporting seriously again when they have new ownership. Media consolidation in local markets chills freedom of speech and the press and is a phenomenon largely caused by the irresponsible behavior of some of the same tech companies like Google who are destroying our town.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Apologies for the delay in responding; I’ve been working to get the last of the election content up. I do want to respond, not because I think you actually wanted an answer (it seems by this reply you have your mind made up). But in case anyone else is curious (and you might want some new information) I wanted to explain Dave’s firing.
      Dave wrote an editorial that was critical of the paper’s ownership, Alden Global Capital, and the many, many cuts to our staff and budget. This was around the same time Denver Post published its scathing editorial of ownership and Alden was receiving much bad press nationally for its vulture capital strategy. The word came down from on high (read: above the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Camera) to not run the piece. So Dave published it on his own blog. The company (again, above the publisher and EIC) used this as grounds to fire him, stating that it was a form of wage and intellectual property theft, since he (allegedly) used company time to produce the piece and then published it elsewhere. The publisher could have refused to fire Dave, maybe sacrificing his own job in the process. I won’t comment on that as I was not privy to those details.
      In my 6.5 years at the Camera, this is the only time I’m aware of that the higher-ups said what could or couldn’t go in the editorial section. It should be noted that in the news sections, we still ran a report or two on the company’s ownership, notably when city council passed a resolution of support for the Camera. So at no time were the reporters barred from reporting on the paper’s ownership; we just had to have a news reason to do so (like the council’s resolution).
      I’ve heard there was one other time that the paper’s owners leaned on its editorial coverage: Back when it was owned locally, they had to run an editorial endorsing George W. Bush. I was told this by senior leadership at the paper but I otherwise have no details and obviously wasn’t around for that. I was shocked and appalled when I heard it; I never thought such things happened. I was made to understand that this was the only time such a directive had ever been made or followed. Again, the directive did not cover what NEWS stories made it in the paper (or didn’t); it simply applied to the Editorial.
      There are several points to be made here: Namely, that editorial (opinion) coverage has been dictated twice in ~20ish years. News coverage, to my knowledge, never has been influenced by the paper’s ownership. At least in Dave’s case, it makes sense that the paper’s owners wouldn’t allow critical opinions of them in the papers they own. That doesn’t make it right, nor do I agree: I wrote a lengthy Twitter thread after Dave’s firing that EIC Kevin Kauffman praised as brave and maybe stupid; he told me my job couldn’t be guaranteed to be safe after I posted it.
      While this one incident (and maybe the 2000s election one) do suggest that paper’s owners have dictated coverage in the past, they also prove that is is incredibly rare (though still troubling, to me) AND that the owners haven’t had any interference in day-to-day coverage. Our owners are simply too far away and there are too many checks and balances/steps in between them and reporters. Alden doesn’t care about Boulder’s issues; they care that they can keep squeezing a profit out of the paper.
      In my 6.5 years at the Camera, I never once heard feedback or suggestions regarding my coverage from anyone except my immediate editors. I never received direction to influence my coverage in one way or another, and I never heard of another reporter who did. In fact, I was once pulled into a meeting with two editors and a local business person (in Longmont) who was upset of the critical coverage I and other reporters had done at the Village at the Peaks Mall. He wanted more positive stories. The editors defended our coverage and we continued to cover it as we normally had, until more layoffs reduced staff further.
      That is the only way owners influenced our coverage: By reducing staff until there wasn’t time for in-depth investigations or deep coverage or learning new things or interacting with the community. I wholeheartedly oppose Alden and their “strategy” of wealth extraction from local papers. However, I still support the work of local reporters and editors who are doing their best in an incredibly stressful situation.
      Thanks as always for engaging. Best, Shay Castle

      Like

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