Hi everyone –
Every year around election time I’ll do an email newsletter issue and blog post that are focused on the upcoming races and ballot measures. This is that.
A quick thought before I dive in: the vitriol and the violence of this election season has been terribly disheartening. For instance, just days ago someone firebombed a Republican campaign office in North Carolina. This stuff is insane.
Fortunately, we all live in Golden, and here in Golden there has long been a culture of neighbors-first-politics-second, earnest dialogue, and keeping our disagreements respectful. Down below I offer my recommendations on some of the candidates races and ballot measures, but what I care much more about is that here in Golden we continue to trust that everyone here truly does care about our community, even when we disagree about how best to protect our quality of life and small town character, and that we continue respecting and honoring our diversity of views even when they don’t align with our own.
So … please vote, and let’s all please keep being neighbors first.
Ballot Issues 3A and 3B: YES
There is no question to my mind that we need a permanent fix for our system of funding public schools in Colorado. Until we can figure out a permanent solution, though, I absolutely support 3A and 3B. The quality of our public schools is a critical factor in our quality of life here in Jeffco, in our property values, in the strength of our communities across the county, and in giving all of our kids a great education and the opportunities the follow. Ballot Issues 3A and 3B would result in a substantial funding boost for things like critical school repairs and building improvements, school counselors, improved hands-on learning opportunities, school security, Outdoor Lab, and expanded music, art, STEM, and vocational programming. I fully support paying a very small additional amount in property tax every year to benefit Jeffco schools and the kids they educate.
Amendment 70 (“State Minimum Wage”): YES
Amendment 70 would raise the minimum wage to a modest $12/hour over three years. I know that one concern I’ve heard is that doing this might actually reduce the number of jobs available. The good news is that most of the research seems to show that this doesn’t actually happen. As I understand it, most minimum wage jobs are in fast food, home care, retail, and other roles that can’t be exported somewhere else. And while it does sometimes mean the cost of goods goes up a little bit, it is more than offset by the increased income among the lowest wage-earners. They actually end up with substantially more income that they can spend on food, gas, clothes, school supplies, and everything else, which then drives job growth, which then benefits everyone in the economy. It also helps people at the low end of the economic spectrum transition away from safety net programs. To my mind, if you work full-time you shouldn’t have to live in poverty. But minimum wage in Colorado – $8.31 – works out to about $330/week with a full-time job before taxes. That’s a poverty wage. I doubt that $12/hour is enough to lift all minimum wage earners out of poverty, but it’s at least closer to a living wage.
Amendment 71 (“Requirements for Constitutional Amendments”): NO
I don’t think there’s any question that we could update and improve the process for amending the Colorado Constitution, but Amendment 71 isn’t the answer. I’m not sure if I’ve ever aligned with the Independence Institute on a ballot measure before, but this time I think they are spot on: “Amendment 71 is intended to keep you and me from petitioning the government by making the initiative process impossible for grassroots groups and activists.” The Independence Institute is concerned that if Amendment 71 passes we might never be able to strengthen TABOR, and I’m concerned about exactly the opposite – that we might never be able to fix TABOR. But the point is the same: as a practical matter, Amendment 71 would ensure that only large corporations and super-wealthy individuals have a chance to pass ballot initiatives. And because of its signature requirements, it would enable voters in a single State Senate district to prevent a proposed initiative from even getting on the ballot. This is as frustrating to conservatives (voters in left-leaning Boulder could prevent a conservative ballot measure from even getting a vote) as it is to liberals (voters in right-leaning Mesa County could prevent a liberal ballot measure from getting a vote). The ability to put initiatives on the ballot should be available to everyone, not just the uber-wealthy. (Incidentally, there are substantial coalitions on both the right and left opposed to Amendment 71. Lots of folks across the political spectrum recognize just how severely this would cut off access to the ballot initiative process.)
Amendment 72 (“Increase Cigarette and Tobacco Taxes”): YES
I support this partly because higher prices for tobacco products means lower rates of tobacco use, especially among children and young adults. Tobacco companies win big when they get kids addicted to cigarettes or other products, and I strongly support making it harder for tobacco companies to do that. In addition, the revenue raised through this measure goes right back into improving health care across Colorado, including health benefits for veterans, making it easier for health care professionals to work in rural Colorado or in other underserved areas of the state, improving mental health and substance abuse services for kids, and disease prevention and treatment.
Ballot Question 21 (Municipal Broadband): YES
I don’t know if it would make sense for the City of Golden to offer high-speed internet or other telecommunications services. I do know that virtually everyone hates Comcast (the crappy bandwidth, the inconsistent customer service, the high cost), and as long as Comcast has such enormous power over internet services in Golden we are stuck with whatever they decide to offer us. Passing Ballot Question 21 doesn’t commit Golden to doing anything, but it at least gives us the option. And at a minimum, passing Ballot Question 21 will force Comcast to take Golden’s concerns and interests more seriously, and if Comcast doesn’t step up its game the City will have the option of more seriously exploring other options.
Ballot Issue 4B (extending the Denver Scientific and Cultural Facilities District): YES
The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District tax is one of the smartest inexpensive long-term investments we make. For 1/10 of a cent of sales tax, the SCFD funds music, art, history museums, and a bunch of other scientific and cultural facilities all over the Denver Metro region, including multiple organizations in Golden. It’s part of what makes the Denver region such a remarkable place to live.
United States Senate: Michael Bennet
Like many people, I’m generally skeptical about members of Congress. The place turns even the most well-intentioned people into reelection-focused fundraising-obsessed political machines who care more about triangulating than about their own beliefs or the views of their constituents. Michael is different. He is as grounded and down-to-earth as they come (despite his high-profile background). He’s extremely intelligent. And he is genuinely pragmatic and approachable. On multiple occasions I’ve had the opportunity to talk through an issue with him, or make my case for a particular position, and he is remarkably open to those conversations in a way that’s truly rare among politicians (Ed Perlmutter is another member of Congress I would put in this same category). I for sure don’t agree with him on everything. He represents our entire – politically diverse – state, and he sometimes lands in places I don’t share. But he brings an integrity and thoughtfulness to the role that is incredibly rare among politicians.
7th Congressional District: Ed Perlmutter
It’s hard to imagine someone better suited to representing the 7th Congressional District than Ed Perlmutter. He enjoys enormous support here because of how well he understands the communities in the district (including Golden), how hard he works, and how seriously he takes his responsibilities as our Congressional representative.
U.S. President: Hillary Clinton
I’ll start by saying that I supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, and I wish he were the Democratic nominee. And I’ll point out that I’m not a huge Hillary Clinton fan. And I get, at least partly, why Donald Trump is so appealing to so many people. People across the country are frustrated with politics, and even aside from his policy positions (and of great importance to me, his apparent bigotry, sexism, and xenophobia), supporting Trump feels like a dramatic rebuke to the way politics usually happens. But for me, being “anti-establishment” isn’t enough. This is the White House. It’s not just about symbolism. And many of Trump’s positions seem truly dangerous, like his overt pandering to Vladimir Putin and his threats to launch a trade war. And while I know that “his temperament” is now a talking point, I find it genuinely frightening to think that we could end up with a President who is so easily goaded into lashing out at whomever just criticized him. I don’t want him anywhere near the nuclear codes, for sure, but his reactions – by all appearances rash and impulsive – could also wreck havoc on the economy, or unnecessarily escalate violent conflicts, or further weaken the tenuous balance of power in the Middle East, or any number of incredibly dangerous and harmful things. It may be that his temperament and attitude has served him well in the real estate business and in his reality TV career, but for all of Clinton’s weaknesses the idea of Donald Trump as the President is a much, much more frightening scenario.
And, despite her weaknesses, Clinton is unequivocally qualified and prepared for the role. I remember how dismissive people were when she first won her seat in the U.S. Senate (saying many of the same things we are hearing now), and within a couple of years she had earned deep respect from Democrats and Republicans in the Senate for her work ethic, her respectfulness, and her commitment to the office. It’s safe to say that if she wins she will make a lot of decisions I disagree with, but from my perspective Clinton is without question the better choice. And she is strong in all of the ways that Trump is weak. She is clearly thoughtful and deliberate (especially compared to Trump’s impulsiveness). She brings an impressive depth of knowledge and understanding about a wide range of critically important issues. I don’t know if Trump is actually as bigoted and sexist as he appears to be, but in sharp contrast Clinton clearly understands the importance of diversity and inclusion. And on and on.
For most of us here in Golden (and, if the polls are any indication, for most Americans), neither major party candidate is a perfect option, but for me Hillary Clinton is by far the better choice.
Jefferson County Commissioner (District 1): Marti J. Smith
I don’t know Marti personally, but the more I learn about the race and about her the more clearly she has become my choice for District 1. She’s got the right attitude about protecting Jeffco residents from overdevelopment and attracting good jobs to the county without undermining the very qualities that make Jeffco so special.
Jefferson County Commissioner (District 2): Casey Tighe
Serving on the county commission is often a thankless job, but the commissioners have a great deal of influence over important issues like open space, land use, and the criminal justice system. Casey has a good track record advocating for fiscal responsibility, smart economic development, and strengthening the county’s criminal justice system. I’d be happy to see him earn another term.
Regent of the University of Colorado: Alice Madden
I’ve known Alice for a long time and think very highly of her. She is super smart, thoughtful, and capable. I’d be thrilled to see her serve on the CU Board of Regents.
Regional Transportation District Director (District M): Dave Ruchman
Dave has been a stalwart champion for light rail and improving the transit system across the entire Metro region. He’s also been supportive of Golden’s efforts to protect our community from the many high-speed beltway proposals over the years.
State House (District 24): Jesse Danielson
I don’t know her very well, but it seems like she’s working hard and doing a solid job. Her bills in this last legislative session include the rain barrel bill (making it legal – finally – to collect and use rainwater for your lawn or garden), requiring that businesses competing for state contracts pay people fairly for their work regardless of gender or race, protecting senior citizens from abuse, and creating better job opportunities for military veterans.
How to Vote
You should receive your ballot within a few days (I just got mine today). There are 24-hour drop boxes at Golden City Hall (911 10th St.) and at the main Jeffco building (100 Jefferson County Parkway). You can also mail it – just be sure to attach postage. The key is that it must be received by Tuesday, November 8, so the sooner you drop it off or mail it, the better, plus the sooner you do that the sooner your name will drop off the political phone call lists.