Boulder Beat’s 2021 Voter Guide

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Meet your match(es)

Only have a few minutes? Take this quick, 5-question quiz to find out which city council candidates share your views on housing, homelessness, policing, transportation and the economy.

Take the quiz

Ballot issues

Ballot issues 2I and 2J – Community, Culture, Resilience and Safety tax extension, bond issuance
Should Boulderites keep paying a sales tax to fund infrastructure?
Quick + Dirty
Pros: Not a tax increase, projects are critical, money for arts
Cons: Not all projects crucial for life-safety, maybe not enough $$ for arts

Ballot Question 2K – Council subcommittees
Should council formalize its rules for forming subcommittees?
Quick + dirty
Pros: Council already following these
Cons: None

Ballot Question 2L – Clarification of signatures for petitions
Should rules around referendum petitions be made uniform in Boulder’s charter?
Quick + dirty
Pros: Not a rule change, makes law more clear, honors will of the voters
Cons: None

Ballot Question 2M – Council payment schedule
Should council be paid on a regular schedule, rather than per meeting?
Quick + dirty
Pros: Not a pay raise, easier for staff and elected officials
Cons: May remove attendance incentive

Ballot Question 300 – Bedrooms Are For People
Should Boulder change its rules for unrelated renters (occupancy limits)?
Quick + dirty
Pros: Legalizes existing behavior, personal liberty, may increase housing options
Cons: May increase noise/traffic/parking, may incentive additions or redevelopment

Ballot Question 301 – Humane Clothing Act
Should Boulder ban (some) fur products?
Quick + dirty
Pros: Long history of abuse in fur industry, fur not necessary, ends suffering/death of animals
Cons: Business impacts, possible conflicts with state law, fur already out of fashion

Ballot Question 302 – Let the Voters Decide on CU South Annexation
Petition is null after council-approved annexation, city officials say
Quick + dirty
Pros: Could result in more specificity in a future annexation agreement (if the current one is overturned by a citizen referendum)
Cons: Would significantly impact or delay flood protection; may forestall annexation (and therefore flood protection) altogether
Read also: CU South Annexation – A Primer


This order is how they will appear on your ballot

Michael Christy wants to save Boulder from itself
Lawyer, mediator sees division, polarization as big problem
Quick + dirty
Priorities: Housing/growth, public health and safety, transportation/climate
Endorsed by: PLAN-Boulder, FRWRD Boulder, Safer Boulder, Together 4 Boulder, Think Boulder

Pros: Lived experience brings fresh perspective, calm, measured, volunteers with unhoused
Cons: Shallow grasp of the issues, over-reliant on one particular group of people as source of information

Mark Wallach wants to keep pushing the rock up the hill
One-term councilman is only incumbent seeking re-election
Quick + dirty
Priorities: Financial recovery, nuisance ordinances (trash, parking, etc.), affordable housing
Endorsed by: PLAN-Boulder, FRWRD Boulder, Safer Boulder, Together 4 Boulder, Think Boulder, Boulder Weekly
Biggest accomplishment from first term: Infrastructure tax extension, cordiality
Biggest regret: None

Pros: Experienced; pragmatic, deep knowledge of the budget
Cons: Unwilling to admit mistakes, downplays negative impacts of existing city policies, inflamed rhetoric

For Lauren Folkerts, community is the magic ingredient
Housing, climate woven throughout architect’s platform
Quick + Dirty
Priorities: Affordable housing, social services, expand transportation options, increase gov’t efficiency, protect open space
Endorsed by: The Coalition, Sierra Club, Boulder Weekly

Pros: Deep knowledge/appreciation for routine governance, innovative proposals, borrows solutions from “both” sides
Cons: May be conflicted out of some development decisions

Matt Benjamin hopes third time’s the charm
Freelance astronomer wants to change the system from the inside
Quick + Dirty
Priorities: Housing; homelessness, transportation, economic vitality, effective and inclusive governance
Endorsed by: The Coalition, Sierra Club, Boulder Weekly, Colorado Working Families Party

Pros: Knowledgable, experienced, has worked to expand access to democracy
Cons: Over-promises on the budget, somewhat entrenched

For David Takahashi, it all comes back to climate, community
Muni proponent wants to give government back to the people
Quick + Dirty
Priorities: Climate, public participation in government
Endorsed by: Sierra Club

Pros: Historical knowledge of Boulder and its issues, unique ideas, would add diversity to council
Cons: Proposals not rooted in reality of governing, inconsistent application of ideology

Tara Winer strives for balance in Boulder
Business owner, board member brings skill, experience
Quick + Dirty
Priorities: Safety and accessibility of Boulder Creek/downtown, state/federal funding for mental health, environment/climate, restoring economic vitality/arts, creative housing solutions
Endorsed by: PLAN-Boulder, FRWRD Boulder, Safer Boulder, Together 4 Boulder, Think Boulder

Pros: Experience with city boards/working groups, handles criticism well, thoughtful
Cons: Lacks solutions to many issues, often noncommittal on policies/positions

Dr. Nicole Speer: Let equity drive Boulder’s decision-making
Housing, inclusion are sole priorities for research director
Quick + Dirty
Priorities: Housing, inclusion and equity
Endorsed by: The Coalition, Sierra Club, Boulder Weekly, Colorado Working Families Party

Pros: Leadership experience, thoughtful, compassionate, lives her values
Cons: Idealistic, may struggle to compromise values

Dan Williams wants Boulder’s reality to match its rhetoric
Local attorney centers social justice in campaign
Quick + Dirty
Priorities: Social justice, climate, “making it easier to live, work and play in Boulder”
Endorsed by: The Coalition, Sierra Club, Boulder Weekly, Colorado Working Families Party

Pros: Knowledgeable, demonstrated commitment to equity (personally and professionally)
Cons: May be conflicted out of council decisions due to work (has sued city twice previously)

Steve Rosenblum wants to move past Boulder’s baggage. Can he overcome his own?
Voters will have to reconcile financial manager’s rhetoric on homelessness
Quick + Dirty
Priorities: Public safety, housing
Endorsed by: PLAN-Boulder, FRWRD Boulder, Safer Boulder, Together 4 Boulder, Think Boulder

Pros: Knowledge and experience with housing, innovative housing proposals
Cons: Argumentative, does not handle criticism well, harsh language directed at vulnerable populations, discounts historical police/government harm on communities of color

Jacques Decalo is not afraid to be extreme
Youngest candidate thinks council needs a push on climate
Quick + Dirty
Priorities: Climate action (greywater recycling, solar expansion), youth engagement
Endorsed by: PLAN-Boulder

Pros: Would bring diverse perspective to council, responsive to criticism
Cons: No real grasp of local issues, proposals not rooted in reality, flip-flopping

Political groups

What’s a slate, anyway? Learn more about who’s backing who


A quick and not-at-all comprehensive look at the issues candidates tackled

Non-city races

BVSD School Board
District E
Deann Butcher
Kara Awaitha Frost
Beth Niznik

District B
Nicole Rajpal
William Hamilton
Sky Van Horn (Write-in)
*Gala Orba has withdrawn from the race. Her name will still appear on ballots

More Info:

Statewide issues

Amendment 78*
Should state lawmakers have more say over federal grants and private donations?
Pros: Could increase transparency in the budget process
Cons: Could create administrative burdens; measure backed by a dark money group
*This measure is facing a legal challenge. Research more before you vote.

Proposition 119
Should taxes on marijuana be raised to pay for non-school learning opportunities?
Pros: Gives $$ to low-income kids for tutoring, etc. that may close the achievement gap
Cons: Could go to some for-profit entities; doesn’t put $$ into schools; makes marijuana more expensive

Proposition 120
Should property taxes be lowered on multifamily and lodging properties?
Pros: May lower rents
Cons: Reduces revenue for local gov’t and schools – Boulder County would miss out on $11M

More info

How/where to vote

You can register to vote up to and on Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 2)

Register to vote online in EnglishSpanish, or in person at the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, located at 1750 33rd Street. Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

If your address has changed since the past election, update your records online.

Other important information
Mail ballots are being sent out starting Friday, October 8
You can return these to a ballot box up to 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 2

Looking for a ballot drop off or in person voting location? Check this link.

Contact the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s office.
Hours: 7:30 – 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday


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