Meet your candidates for Boulder County Commissioner

Ashley Stolzmann, left, and Elaina Shively, Democratic candidates for Boulder County Commissioner.

Friday, June 10, 2022

One of the three seats for Boulder County Commissioner is up this year, with Matt Jones not seeking re-election. Two women are vying for this seat: Ashley Stolzmann and Elaina Shively, both Democrats.

Ahead of the June 28 Democratic primary election, here’s a quick look at each candidate. There are no Republican candidates for these seats, so this will decide who is on the ballot in the fall.

Answers to policy questions were gathered in private interviews and a campaign event held by the Boulder Chamber on Thursday, June 2.

Elaina Shively

Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, 2015-present
Director for the Center for Prevention and Restorative Justice

Previously: Adams County Public Defender

Community safety
Criminal justice reform
Disaster response and recovery
Climate action

Ashley Stolzmann

Mayor of Louisville, 2019-present
Louisville City Council, 2013-present

Disaster response and preparedness
Housing and homelessness prevention and support
Climate action


Andrew Romanoff, former Speaker of the House (Colorado)
Matt Jones, Boulder County Commissioner
Sonya Jaquez Lewis, State Senator
Tracey Bernett, State Representative
Mike Foote, Former State Representative
Laurie Albright, former BVSD board member
Kristopher Larsen, Nederland Mayor
Sara Loflin, Erie Trustee
Boulder City Council
– Aaron Brockett, mayor
– Leslie Durgin, former mayor
– Bob Yates
– Tim Plass, former member
Longmont City Council
– Joan Peck, mayor
– Brian Bagley, former mayor
Louisville City Council
– Dennis Maloney, Mayor Pro Tem
– Bob Muckle, former mayor
– Kyle Brown
– Caleb Dickenson
– Deb Fahey
– Chris Leh
– Maxine Most
Superior Council
– Tim Howard
– Paige Henchen
– Neal Shah
– Sandy Pennington, former trustee
– Sandie Hammerly, former trustee
Lafayette Town Council
– Jamie Harkins, former mayor
– Christine Berg, former mayor
– Tim Barnes
– Stephanie Walton

Claire Levy, Boulder County Commissioner, D1
Marta Loachamin, Boulder County Commissioner, D2
Deb Gardner, Former Boulder County Commissioner
Josie Heath, Former Boulder County Commissioner
Michael Dougherty, Boulder County District Attorney
Stan Garnett, Former Boulder County District Attorney
Joe Pelle, Boulder County Sheriff
Dorothy Rupert, Former Colorado State Senator
Judy Amabile, Colorado State Representative
Shannon Bird, Colorado State Representative
Karen McCormick, Colorado State Representative
Steve O’Dorisio, Adams County Commissioner
Emma Pinter, Adams County Commissioner

CU Board of Regents
– Callie Rennison
– Lesley Smith
– Linda Shoemaker, Regent Emerita
BVSD School Board
– Richard Garcia
– Kathy Gebhardt, Chair
– Beth Niznik
– Nicole Rajpal
– Lisa Sweeney-Miran
– Stacey Zis
– Peter Salas, former member
Boulder City Council
– Matt Benjamin
– Lauren Folkerts
– Rachel Friend, Mayor Pro Tem
– Nicole Speer
– Robin Bohannan, former member
– Angelique Espinoza, former member
– Richard Polk, Former
– Andrew Shoemaker, former
– Sam Weaver, former mayor
Lafayette City Council
– Tonya Briggs
– Enihs Medrano
– Brian Wong, Mayor Pro Tem
Longmont City Council
– Tim Waters
– Shiquita Yarbrough
Don Brown, Former Louisville City Council
Deven Sheff, Broomfield City Council
Justin Brooks, Mayor of Erie

What issues or areas do you think Boulder County should take a stronger role, and what should that role be?

Shively: “Commissioners set policy and direct 2,000 staff to carry out that policy. There are two different populations you’re representing. For some policies, like building codes, it’s people who live in unincorporated Boulder County. For others, like public health, community services, etc. those are countywide.

“There are places we need to re-evaluate what we’re doing and whether there’s inertia. Sometimes incrementalism is appropriate, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes slowing down is appropriate, sometimes speeding up is better” for government responses.

Particularly with housing, “a lot of people don’t realize the county commissioners are the county housing authority board. I would support more commissioners or more representatives, maybe another board for housing. It really deserves our full attention.”

Stolzmann: “There is a role for more visibility and leadership” from county commissioners, which is a full-time job. Minimum wage is an example. “Even if we max out (under state law) we’re nowhere near a living wage.”

“Housing, homelessness, transportation, gun violence prevention — these issues are not city-by-city issues.” The recent gun control push, “working together made it much easier.” Anything housing and human services, “the county has the funding, they have the resources” as the state arm of that locally. “The commissioners could do a better job communicating what we’re doing and what we’re spending money on.”

The reason I’m running, “it really comes down to disaster recovery and response. I have a firsthand perspective of making sure we can learn form the mistakes that were made. It’s a huge issue helping get resources so we can rebuild. It’s really impacting East County. Just how we respond to debris cleanup (in the county). It’s very different from how it’s done elsewhere. We’re working on grant funding for homeowners, using state funding. The state wants it to flow through the county, but the county said we can’t do it. So Louisville jumped in and said, ‘We’ll do it.'”

In Boulder, particularly on homelessness but also a bit with affordable housing, there’s a feeling that the city is doing and spending so much, and surrounding towns are benefitting from that without contributing. As Commissioner, how would you bring other cities into the solutions, or would you?

Stolzmann: “The county has to facilitate conversations, because people don’t really know what’s going on in other cities.” People say Louisville doesn’t do affordable housing, but that’s not the case.” And many East County towns feel like they are providing market-rate affordable housing that Boulder is not. CU students are taking all the rental housing in Louisville, Lafayette and Broomfield.”

“Each community has a different view and ideas of how they want to do things. We need the county to facilitate those conversations,” to find what communities want and then make it happen. “If you say to the community, ‘We’re going to do this,’ you get community pushback.”

Shively: “The city of Boulder needs better partnership from the county. It shouldn’t fall on the city of Boulder alone.” That being said, “other municipalities don’t have the budget” that the city and county do.

“Housing is one place where we need to get out of the rhetoric of who is telling who to build. Everywhere I go, people say we need housing — until I ask where it’s going to be built. We need to hold people to that and bring them along. Families are leaving Boulder; school enrollment is down. We are at risk of becoming a retirement community.

“We have a goal. We need to collaborate and work on the goal.”

What are your key transportation priorities for Boulder County, including cyclist safety? With the transportation tax expiring in 2024, what options do you support for continued funding?

Stolzmann: “Transportation is a critical issue facing our whole region and county. We have so much in-commuting every day. Key priorities are reducing transportation emissions, fuel-switching, making sure people have access to vehicles that don’t have carbon emissions and public transit.

“Right now the county has taken a very adversarial role with RTD, and they’re fighting over money that’s sitting in the bank. We’re doing no one any good. Capital is getting more expensive every day. We have to start working together in a different way, resolve these conflicts and actually put things in to action. There are many, many plans that have been studied and re-studied and re-studied. The passenger rail… is this a tomorrow thing that will be done? No. But it something we absolutely need to be talking about. (We need to) make sure it doesn’t go on the eastern plains and yet we would still be taxed for it.”

Transportation tax
“I do think renewing the tax is a fantastic idea. I wouldn’t want to jeopardize completing projects we’ve been working hard on.” But increasing it exponentially at this time, “I think the (proposed) high amount is too high for the community to absorb it. People are really under pressure with all the inflationary issues going on.”

Cyclist safety
The Highway 119 bikeway and Boulder-Lyons bikeway, “completing those are critically important, and in my top priorities. When you look at deaths and injuries, they’re happening on county roads, even though most of us live in incorporated areas, even though incorporated areas have the most Vehicle Miles Traveled. There’s very small shoulders, the speeds are higher. It’s not just for the spandex riders, either. There’s more and more people who can use it for commuting. It’s only viable if it’s safe and accessible. If we want to get to Vision Zero, we need to make safe and accessible modes of transportation.”

Shively: “We have a few challenges that are interrelated and separate” like housing and transportation. “We’re seeing a lower level of enrollment in elementary schools, and our population age without services that can keep up. It would be ideal if our public servants could live in the community which they are serving. We want them engaged. We want them to know our community. There are places we can dig where the dirt is soft.”

Transportation tax
“There are a lot of competing initiatives right now on sales tax, and we have to think about that and property tax. We’re asking a lot of people. Budgets are moral documents. We can’t look in silos; they’re all somewhat inter-connected. There are initiatives on the table about re-upping this sales tax. Boulder County is seeking public input, which is an important part of the process. There’s also opportunity for outside money and federal grants. We can work hard to bring in money. That doesn’t always mean taxes or asking you all.”

Cyclist safety
“If we’re going to have more people cycle, we need to think about trail connectivity in our plans, both for housing and in planning for bikeways. Highway 119 plans are underway. That’s going to help a lot. We still are very far from a Vision Zero. Education about community safety and cycling safety” has to be part of that.

Would you support looking at ways for the county to fund subdivision road maintenance?

Shively: “Yes. Every time I meet someone who lives in unincorporated Boulder County, I hear about the roads. It’s an opportunity for building government trust. The question was not about how we can fund it but if we’d look at it. It needs to be looked at.”

Stolzmann: “No. Everybody who runs for office always says they’re going to do it, and they don’t. There’s absolutely no way to fund it. There’s a huge equity issue. I do think there’s a way to address it, but I don’t think it comes from the general fund or existing revenue.”

How do you plan to support continued agriculture in Boulder County, with an eye on water capacity?

Stolzmann: “I’ve supported regenerative agriculture. Our farmers have been here for a long time. Moving policy back and forth like (we did with the GMO phase-out that was then walked back) is really hard. If we want our soil health to improve and reduce the amount of water we use, that means helping farmers. Farmers are business people in our community. They are trying to make a life and a life for themselves. We need to help with resources to offset the cost of capital. And we need to transition so the community gets the outcome they’re looking for and help farmers get a viable option. We won’t be growing things that maybe we should be growing somewhere else.” Hemp farming can help with water use and be a really viable product that can be used for so many things.

Shively: “We can’t think about economic vitality without thinking about farmers. This is an area where I’m not the expert, but I will listen to the experts. One of the most exciting things for me to learn about is about opportunities on our agricultural lands. How do we use regenerative agriculture? How do we listen to the farmers and work with them? How do we make sure we have the right development and advancement opportunities? How do we have accessory dwellings so that people working the farms can live there?”

— Shay Castle, @shayshinecastle

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