By: Robin Kniech
If you don’t vote, someone who doesn’t share your values likely will. And as we’ve learned the hard way, staying home or skipping a question on your ballot can change the outcome of an entire election, the Supreme Court, and the country. This November’s ballot is going to be very long. There are many progressive candidates on the ballot, and they each need you to vote at every single level of government. You can click here if you’d like to review a sample ballot.
I endorse Jared Polis for Governor, and the candidates running for Attorney General (Phil Weiser), Secretary of State (Jenna Griswold), State Treasurer (Dave Young) and CU Regent At-Large (Lesley Smith) all need your votes too. Each of these seats has a profound impact on Denver, whether for the better, or the worse, depending on who is writing the rules for our elections or defending the laws of Colorado from Trump attacks. We all also now have a renewed focus on the judges administering justice in our country, so please research the evaluations of the judges on your ballot and make sure to vote on their retention too. But where I get the most questions from Denver voters is on the ballot measures.
Below are my picks for some of the most important city and state measures with the greatest positive impact or risks for Denver. There are other measures that also have the potential to benefit Denver residents, so I encourage you to vote your conscience on the rest. Those I have highlighted are simply those I believe are the most important.
2A – Denver Parks and Open Space – YES
I was a co-sponsor of this ordinance. Denver has fallen behind on public parks and open space relative to our population and size, and expanding and maintaining parks is important both for the enjoyment of our city as well as the health of our residents and environment. There are no other sustainable, dedicated sources of funding available to fund these important public spaces. The measure provides for both the purchase of new parks, but also importantly, maintenance of the parks we have without displacing any existing funding already being provided, allowing us to better keep up with planting trees, improving trails, replacing irrigation, etc.
301 – Caring for Denver – Funding for Mental Health Services – YES
As not just a city, but a county as well, human services are a core responsibility for Denver. Our residents are experiencing a crisis in opioid deaths and long waits for mental health services. This provision would also allow some funds to be used for supportive services associated with permanent housing, key to permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals with diagnoses. Several other counties in the U.S. have used these measures successfully.
302 – Healthy Food for Denver Kids – YES
While I wish that the supporters of this measure had worked more closely with city leaders on some of the details of this proposal, there is no disputing the fact that too many kids in Denver are still going hungry. The funding generated from this small sales tax measure will go to feeding children, educating them on healthy food choices to fight rising obesity rates, particularly in vulnerable communities, and to increasing access to locally grown food in these programs, outcomes I strongly support.
7G – Urban Drainage and Flood Control – YES
This is a standard “de-brucing” measure, allowing the District that protects us from flooding to keep revenue they are already authorized to collect without raising tax rates. As our region develops, the risk of flooding can increase, and in many cases it is low to moderate income residents who are more at risk due to the locations of communities with high proportions of these residents. This regional body is an important partner with cities in the region to provide infrastructure that we can’t often see, but which protects lives and property. They are also increasing their use of environmentally sustainable approaches to flood control (such as improving river banks and wetlands that clean water as it moves toward rivers, instead of relying only on concrete pipes, etc.). For example, the District has been my partner in turning a brownfield into an open space at the request of neighbors in Globeville.
2E – Public Funding of Denver’s Municipal Campaigns – YES
I support public financing as a way of helping to level the playing field for candidates and engage more Denver residents in financing our campaigns. 2E, which is similar to campaign finance regulations in a number of other U.S. cities, including Boulder and New York, would allow candidates to focus more energy on individual voters as opposed to courting special interests.
Amendment A – Banning Slavery – YES
Removing outdated provisions of our state constitution that still allow slavery.
Amendment 73 – Funding for Education – YES
Colorado’s schools are an investment in the future of our children, and when they fall behind, our children and communities like Denver suffer. The measure would be funded by a modest increase on those earning more than $150,000, who pay relatively low taxes in Colorado compared to other states. We can improve education and retain more qualified teachers in Colorado if Amendment 73 passes.
Amendment 74 – Compensation for Any Government Regulation – NO
Very dangerous, could bankrupt local government as we do our ordinary work of protecting residents through everyday land use decisions and ordinances.
Amendment 109 – Bonds for Transportation with No New Revenue to Pay for Them – NO
This measure is deceiving and will try to fund transportation with no new revenue, thereby threatening funding for education and other important state programs.
Amendment 110 – Modest Statewide Sales Tax for Transportation – YES
A balanced measure to fund multi-modal transportation (including roads, transit and bicycle infrastructure) across the state, including a share back where Denver would be able to use a portion of the proceeds for crtical local projects, such as Bus Rapid Transit along the Colfax Corridor.
Proposition 111 – Limits on Payday Loan Charges – YES
Denver residents are deeply harmed by predatory lenders who charge exorbitant rates for short term money– sometimes with interest rates in excess of 200%. This measure doesn’t eliminate payday loans, but caps interest rates at 36%.
Proposition 112 – Setbacks for Oil and Gas Development – YES
The oil and gas industry and state regulators have been fighting to prevent local governments from adopting reasonable measures to protect residential communities and children in schools from the air quality and safety risks associated with extraction. Because of dangerous explosions and the health and environmental impacts of emissions, in the absence of a path for local government to protect against these harms, I will be voting yes to expand setbacks statewide.
All registered Denver voters will receive a mail-in ballot this week. If you do not receive one, need to register (yes, you still can!), or have any questions about how to vote, visit the Denver Elections Division webpage or reach out to them.Thank you for participating in our democracy and making your voice heard!