How (some) council and mayoral candidates are lining up on (some) issues

Candidates answer yes/no questions during a lightning round at the Raucous Caucus on Wednesday, June 21. (Image courtesy of Chelsea Castellano)

Friday, June 23, 2023

Raucous Caucus returned to an in-person format Wednesday night, and with it the little touches that set the event apart from other political forums — sparkly paddles, quirky questions and lots of boos from the crowd.

Candidates won’t officially be candidates until early August. Some may still drop out if they don’t secure endorsement by one of Boulders’ two principal political blocs. But eight have so far stepped up to run for city council:

Justin Kalvin, manager and bartender at the iconic Sundown Saloon on Pearl Street. He wants to elevate the voices of renters and service/low-wage workers who are not represented on the majority homeowner and white-collar city council.

Waylon Lewis, Buddhist, Trident Cafe super-fan and founder/publisher/owner of Elephant Journal. He talked about his frustrations with the cost of living in Boulder and the inability of local government to make progress.

Jennifer Robins, a real estate consultant and mom “who wants to make the city better for my family and yours” via “safe spaces, mental health services and leadership opportunities” for youth ages 12-18.

Taishya Adams, former member of Boulder’s Police Oversight Panel. She wants to see “community-led” and more collaborative local government that prioritizes the people it represents.

Tara Winer, the only incumbent seeking re-election (for a council seat). “It’s my job to balance the needs of everybody in the community,” she said. “I commit to listening to everyone. I will always consider those ideas.”

Aaron Neyer, engineer. His focus is on improving relationships. “I think what we need more than anything is really meaningful, inclusive and engaging dialogue.”

Ryan Schuchard, transportation wonk (he’s a member of Boulder’s Transportation Advisory Board). His platform is (unsurprisingly) transportation and climate heavy, advocating for a “dramatic” expansion of transit and infrastructure for people to “walk, bike and roll.”

Silas Atkins, paraeducator at Boulder Valley School District and previous resident of the city’s affordable rental program. “I’m very much aware of what it costs to live here, what it takes to be here.”

Mayor Aaron Brockett and sitting city council members Bob Yates and Nicole Speer are running for mayor in Boulder’s first direct election for that post, using a new method: ranked choice voting.

Though there was (per usual) much grumbling about the use of Yes/No paddles to answer questions — “I’m horrified,” Lewis said — the lightning round questions also offer perhaps the clearest sense of candidates’ policy positions.

Here’s what we learned from three lighting rounds of yes/no questions:


Everyone but Yates and Robins support state action on housing that would override local control (such as the failed land use bill from this session, SB213, which Boulder was alone in supporting as a municipality).

Support for rent control (which also failed to pass the state legislature this year) was unanimous among candidates

Yates, Brockett, Winer and Robins opposed removing “familial status” as a determination for how many adults can share housing (Winer expressed much confusion over the question, despite council’s recent work on the issue.)


Nobody supported ticketing unhoused people for sleeping outside when no shelter beds are available (something the city is currently being sued over). Winer waffled a bit on this one, too (and was booed for her indecision), but later said that she meant to answer no.

Everyone but Yates and Robins supported the use of designated, safe encampments as part of a comprehensive strategy to address homelessness

Despite their continued support for and funding of encampment removals, Brockett and Yates joined the majority of candidates who said the practice is not an efficient use of resources to address homelessness. Only Robins thought they were (Winer, predictably, waffled)

Policing + Oversight

Asked if the Police Oversight Panel should have more authority in disciplining officers, Yates and Robins said no. Everyone else answered yes. (Winer later clarified in a tweet: “a little more, but not much more.”

Winer, Brockett, Yates and Robins believe the police budget is not too high; everyone else answered that it was

Wages + Taxes

Everyone supported a higher minimum wage “of at least $17.29” per hour

Every candidate but Atkins would support a tax or fee specifically to fund transit. In his closing remarks, Atkins explained: As someone who works a low-paying job, “I don’t have the ability to support” this financially. He also doesn’t “believe in individual taxes and fees to pay for things. We should share the burden.”

Atkins was joined by Adam in opposing a tax increase to fund the arts, a likely ballot measure for this fall

Everyone but Robins supports a living wage for city council members. (Currently, they make about $12,000 per year. A ballot measure for higher pay will likely be brought forward next year)


Everyone but Winer signaled support for eliminating parking requirements for housing development

Winer also stood alone in opposition of re-closing West Pearl to car traffic (well-trod ground for this city council)


Kalvin, Adams, Neyer and Atkins are the only candidates who rent, rather than own their homes. They would join a council of all homeowners, as Junie Joseph (the sole renter at the time of her election in 2019) is cycling off council in November

Two additional candidates (Brockett and Winer) have lived in multi-family, attached housing in the past decade

Yates and Robins were registered Republicans as of 2017, but have since switched their affiliation (Robins to Democrat, Yates to unaffiliated). Kalvin is also an unaffiliated voter. (City council elections are non-partisan.)

The Thread Reader is broken, but you can see a full live-tweet of this event here.
Find the start of the Lightning Rounds here, here and here, and the mayoral q+a round here.

One correction: Robins was not an organizer of the Safe Zones 4 Schools petition, though she does support it. I also added into the story information and quotes from Lewis’ and Robins’ intros that I missed in the thread.

— Shay Castle, @shayshinecastle or on Mastodon at

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2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I liked Schuchard’s comment that council needs members who come to legislate. Yes! We can dialog all day but what’s needed is action and commitment to making change. I’m tired of voting for people who say all the right things then just go through the motions (Efficiency is not as important as getting big things done, Bob.)

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