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)
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, @shayshinecastle. Edited by Deanna Hardies.
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