Boulder 101

Welcome to Boulder 101, a series meant to help you weed through the city’s sticky issues. Here you’ll find deep-dives into big topics, broken down into digestible bites.

Got a suggestion for something you’d like to see covered? Send it to Otherwise, happy reading! You’re on your way to becoming a more informed and engaged resident.

Local government

Courtesy City of Boulder


Who you gonna call?

Every link, phone number and email address you need to email council, request translation, watch live meetings and more.

Who’s in Charge?

  • What does the city manager do?
  • Who hires who?
  • Department heads: Where do they fit in?
  • Home rule: What does it mean?

Civilians in the City

  • Boards and Commissions
  • Working groups

Direct Democracy: Power to the People

  • Initiatives, Recalls and Referendums
  • City vs state: Whose rules rule?

Public Participation: How to Play

  • I have a complaint: Where do I go?
  • Wait, what’s a neighborhood liaison?
  • How do I contact city council?
  • Participating in government meetings

Leer en español – El ABC de gobierno local

The Muni

Note: This information is a bit out of date, as it was written before voters approved entering back into a franchise agreement with Xcel Energy in November 2020. It still provides useful history on the background of municipalization, and where Boulder will pick back up should it choose to end the aforementioned franchise.

Xcel, Boulder settlement: What’s in it?


Basics and background

  • Where are we now?
  • Decision point: Local power or Xcel?
  • How (and why) did we get here

Who’s arguing what?

  • Pros and cons
  • Both sides now
  • Where does council stand?

Arguments deep dive


  • Highlights over a 10-year history
  • Voting record
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