Mark Wallach's Voter Guide!
Time for a Change!
While I have never before published a voting guide for public consumption, I suppose there is a first time for everything. I am doing so this year due to the extreme importance of the election, and the desperate need to effect change at the City Council.
The only important questions you have to ask as you ponder the various choices for Mayor and City Council are the following: Are you content with your City government and City Council, and are you happy with the decisions they have made in your name? If you are, read no further; this voting guide is not for you. But if you believe that the Council has too often operated on an ideological basis, and has enacted programs that will transform our community, but not for the better, you might find some of my endorsements useful.
This year presents some stark choices, both in terms of our first Mayoral election and in the candidates running for City Council. I will cover both of these, as well as one of the ballot initiatives that everyone will be asked to vote on.
Here they are:
For me this is an easy call. I am supporting Bob Yates to be the first Mayor elected by the people of Boulder. While Bob and I agree on most issues, we do not agree on all, but that is not the point. I am supporting him because I believe he will be the most effective and collaborative leader among the mayoral candidates. Bob has proven to be an untiring, dedicated public servant as a member of the Boulder City Council. He is non-ideological and data-driven in his approach to issues: he is prepared to spend our tax dollars to solve problems, but he wants to see evidence that those solutions actually work. And he does something that is a bit rare for a member of Council: he remembers that we have a budget and that there are actually financial limitations on our ability to spend money.
Bob is running on the slogan “Because Leadership Matters.” After 4 years on Council (has it only been 4 years? Seems longer.) I can tell you that leadership is virtually all that matters in a Mayor. The Mayor does not get additional votes, or a fancy car and driver or any of the perks that come with higher office. But it does come with the obligation to be Boulder’s voice to the outside world and its primary representative to the County, State and Federal governments. Bob’s years of experience on Council, as an international businessman and attorney, and as a supporter of non-profits make him uniquely qualified to perform this role.
Here are some of the votes that distinguish Bob from his competition:
1. This year the Council ran roughshod over the 2021 vote rejecting the Bedrooms Are For People initiative, negating the will of the people and replacing it with the will of a Council majority, in order to increase occupancy limits in Boulder. The Council failed to respect the decision reached by a majority of the voters, replacing the vote of more than 17,000 residents with the vote of 6 members of Council. Bob was the only Mayoral candidate who stood with the voters.
2. Bob was the only Mayoral candidate who stood with a majority of the Council to remove a member of the Police Oversight Panel for bias, and for being a plaintiff against the City and the Police Department (which should have itself been disqualifying). The other candidates did not.
3. When the governor attempted to override our home rule authority to make land-use decisions (such as occupancy limits) this past session, every home-rule city in Colorado stood in opposition to that attempt to usurp local authority. Except one: Boulder. Bob was the only Mayoral candidate who refused to capitulate and surrender this fundamental home rule authority to the State. The other candidates were prepared to surrender our home rule status and our right to make our own land-use decisions.
Bob will address the key problems that are affecting our community today: homelessness, public safety, and housing affordability. He will do so clearly and directly, and you will always know where he stands. And you will always be able to reach out and express your views directly to him, whether you agree with him or not.
None of the other candidates for Mayor can equal Bob in terms of leadership capability, knowledge of Boulder issues or commitment to serve this community. As I said, easy choice.
There are 4 women running for Council that I am endorsing without reservation: my colleague, Tara Winer, Terri Brncic (yes, that is the correct spelling), Tina Marquis and Jenny Robins.
Tara has served admirably during her first term, and will be outstanding in her second. She is hardworking, collaborative, and always seeking the compromise that will create a broad consensus on the Council. And, when necessary, she is tough as nails. I am delighted to give her my support.
As a former CFO, Terri would be one of the few members of Council with an actual background in finance, and able to read a spreadsheet. So much of our work revolves around the budget; it would be nice to have someone else on Council who actually understands what a budget is and how it functions. Experienced, intelligent and compassionate: that is the package that Terri brings to the table.
Many people already know Tina from her long service on the BVSD Board of Education, ultimately serving as its President. She is organized, thoughtful and always willing to dig into a subject to find the better answer. She has already demonstrated her leadership and, if past is prologue, Tina’s service demonstrates that she will be an outstanding member of Council.
Jenny has been a real estate professional with substantial experience in land use and zoning, and a small business owner. Jenny lives in Gunbarrel, which has long been under-represented on Council. Jenny is also an advocate for public safety, youth opportunities, and more effective solutions for homelessness. She will serve Boulder extremely well.
You will note that my endorsements are not based on the specific views of the candidates on any particular issue. That is because I do not really care. What I care about is the quality of their thinking, their willingness to persuade and be persuaded (also known as being open-minded) and to use their best judgment to decide the issues, always with a commitment to the betterment of Boulder, not to ideology. With these exceptional candidates that is precisely what you will get.
I would be remiss in failing to mention that I have also endorsed a fifth candidate, Waylon Lewis, for Council. I am permitted to endorse five candidates, but you may only vote for four (if you vote for five your ballot will be disqualified). If elected, I think Waylon will serve admirably, but I remain most committed to Tara, Terri, Tina, and Jenny.
BALLOT MEASURE 302
I am not going to discuss School Board or any of the City, County or State initiatives, other than Ballot Measure 302, also known as Safe Zones 4 Kids. I have never seen a ballot initiative attacked with more fervor and less substance. Safe Zones does not require an expansion of the police force, a reallocation of funds from programs that address homelessness through social services, or anything of the kind.
Safe Zones simply authorizes the city to prioritize areas of 500 feet around schools and 50 feet around multi-use paths and sidewalks for enforcement of tent and propane tank removal. Its intent is simple: to make the areas around our schools safer for our children. But it does not mandate anything specific from the Police. How the safety of children has come to be so politicized is a mystery to me.
This year, I believe that concern for public safety is the single defining issue of this year’s election campaign. Safe Zones does nothing more than address that public safety concern with respect to some of our most vulnerable residents: young students. I will be voting in favor of Ballot Measure 302.
This is the most important election in all the years I have lived in Boulder. The only way to change the path that we are on is through the ballot box. Complaining, grumbling, and excoriating the current Council does nothing. Voting does everything. Vote for change, and get your friends to vote for change, or accept that the way things are is the way things will be. I will be voting for a better future.
NOW, NO EXCUSES, GET OUT AND VOTE!