Election time is upon us and with already record voter turnout, it’s clear the American people are invested in its outcome. With the ongoing pandemic, mass unemployment and the hotly contested presidential race, it’s more important than ever to be informed. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive Colorado and Denver ballot guide for the 2020 election.
Below you’ll not only see easy to understand information on all the complex ballot issues but details on those running for election in the Centennial State. We also gathered all the extra links and info you may need so you have one spot to make the most informed decision possible. This year’s ballot is extra long, but give us a bit of your time and you’ll head to the polls (or ballot drop-off box) more confident than ever.
The Lowdown: The US Senate consists of 100 senators with two allocated from each state. Together with the House of Representatives, it makes up the US Congress. Senators are elected for six-year terms.
Cory Gardner Republican (incumbent): Gardner is running as a “common sense” conservative that reaches across the aisle. However, Gardner has made it clear he will not back down on his support for Trump and even went so far as to say the president is a moral and ethical man in a recent debate. Even so, Gardner has passed bipartisan legislation and is independently ranked as the third most bipartisan senator. His most recent win came in the form of a bill for a national suicide prevention hotline that was passed just this week. But Gardner’s “common sense” persona is quickly undercut by his tendency to contradict himself. For example, Gardner has been both for and against Dreamers, supported and dismissed the border wall, and is pro-fracking but also supports legislation for water and land conservation. Overall Gardner’s voting record is deeply conservative, making him a hard sell for an increasingly democratic state.
John Hickenlooper (Democrat): Long time Colorado politician and former Colorado governor is well-known throughout the state of Colorado. However, the once geologist and brewer is still running as an a-typical politician with a business owner’s sense of practicability. This shapes most of his policies which strike a balance between progressive ideals and limiting government overreach. For example, he’s against the Green New Deal and Medicaid for All but believes in tackling climate change and providing affordable healthcare. However, Hickenlooper’s fair share of flubs has threatened his affable brewer persona. From drinking a glass of Halliburton fracking water that gained him the nickname“Frackenlooper” to recent ethics violations involving private jets and a Maserati limousine (and even a slave ship comment), Hickenlooper’s ability to step on his own toes has chipped away at his popularity. Still, the former governor was able to raise a tremendous amount of money and currently leads Gardner by 10 points in the polls.
Daniel Doyle (Approval Voting Party): There is little information on Doyle other than he represents Approval Voting, which is a single-issue party. Their platform wants to institute a new voting system for all political elections where voters are able to choose and rank their top picks rather than just selecting one candidate.
Stephan “Seku” Evans (Unity Party): Evans is a former Black Panther member turned florist that has run for Denver mayor in both 2015 and 2019. He is known for civic engagement and is a frequent participant at City Council meetings. His platform focuses on crime and the housing crisis but has unconventional approaches including nationwide open carry, abolishing prisons, releasing inmates convicted of low-level offenses and creating a new Homestead Act for those displaced by gentrification. He also believes in $100 Trillion in reparations for Black Americans descended from slaves and limiting 5G towers until their health risks are further studied.
Raymon Doane (Libertarian Party): The Denver native is a long-time government employee and tax expert that breaks many conceptions of your typical libertarian. He’s explicitly not anti-government but instead is against government overreach like the current pandemic-related lockdowns. He is a strong supporter of the second amendment but also believes the miltary and national defense budget needs to be reduced. In general, he believes everyone has the right to “keep what they earn, defend themselves and live their life free from persecution and oppression.”
US House of Representatives
The Lowdown: Members of the US House are called representatives, and each state receives a number of representatives that is in proportion to the size of its population. In Colorado, we have seven representatives. In Denver, we are in District 1 and for this year’s election, there are five choices, detailed below.
District 1 Denver Race:
Diana DeGette (Incumbent) (Democratic Party): DeGette is a fourth-generation Coloradan and has been the District 1 Representative since 1997, and before that she was a representative for another district in Colorado. During her long political career, DeGette has authored and sponsored many bills that have served as examples for other legislators, such as the so-called “Bubble Bill” that she wrote to ensure women in Colorado have access to abortion clinics and other medical facilities. She is pro-choice, focused on issues relating to children and children’s health, has a track record of environmental stewardship and has been outspoken about the need for more gun control.
Shane Bolling (Republican Party): Bolling was born and raised in Colorado, where he learned to love all of the outdoor pursuits that most Coloradans enjoy. This is the first time Bolling has entered a political campaign. Up to now, he has focused his career in agriculture and mining, working for a midwestern food products company first and then as an international consultant negotiating “power purchase agreements for Latin American mining operations.” His most recent endeavor has been a domestic energy consulting company that he believes has given him the skills to represent District 1 nationally.
Jan Kok (Approval Voting Party): There is no information available for this candidate at this time.
Kyle Furey (Libertarian Party): The only information available about this candidate is on his personal Facebook page, here or his Twitter, here. The last tweet that he posted was on May 15 and stated “Does anyone honestly think lockdowns are still about saving lives?”
Paul Fiorino (Unity Party): Fiorino has been active in local politics on several occasions, running for Denver mayor in 2011 and 2015, along with serving on local boards and organizations. For at least the last 20 years, Fiorini has engaged and often progressed the local art and culture scene, including his work for the Golden Triangle Creative District. He is unaffiliated with any traditional political party and believes strongly in deciding issues based on public consensus — in a Westword interview before last year’s Mayoral run, he deferred to the ballot box to answer more than one question about particular problems, like homelessness.
How to find your representative: If you live outside of Denver, check this site to see which district you live in and then check this site to find out which candidates you have the option to vote for.
Colorado State Senate
The Lowdown: The Colorado State Senate works with the Colorado House of Representatives and the Colorado Governor to create laws and establish a budget each year. Districts in or around Denver with elections this year are 21, 25, 26, 31 and 33. As of October 2020, of the 35 seats in the Colorado State Senate, there are 19 from the Democratic party and 16 from the Republican.
How to find your representative: Plug in your address to this map to find your district number and current state Senator.
Dominick Moreno (incumbent) (Democratic Party): Moreno started representing District 21 in the State Senate in 2017, and before that he served in the State House of Representatives from 2013 to 2017 for District 32. His first stint in politics was when he served on city council after returning to Colorado from Georgetown University. He believes in creating a fair education system and refers to his own public Colorado education before going to college without much praise, insisting we can do better. His most recent sponsored bill was the Gay Panic or Transgender Panic defense bill, which prohibits the use of a panic defense in court under certain terms and is a win for the LGBTQ community. Other bills he sponsored this year include a health insurance affordability plan to help individuals, a simplification of requirements for a minor to be granted a new birth certificate and a cost of living adjustment for Colorado work program recipients.
Martin Mendez (Republican Party): Mendez grew up in Longmont with a large family and has been involved in various political groups including the Colorado Hispanic Republicans. He is focused on lowering taxes, disbanding labor unions, avoiding government regulations or programs like the vaccination bill and the needle exchange program, keeping the Gallagher amendment as written and allocating funds to mental health care within county jails. He is opinionated and vocal about why he does or does not support something and touts his experience working with both Republicans and Democrats.
Paula Dickerson (Democratic Party): Dickerson has spent more than three decades as a teacher in Colorado, receiving a doctoral level of education in the process. She was born and raised in Adams County, where her grandparents were original Thornton homeowners. She promises to work hard for children’s education, protecting the economic dignity of families and ensuring a safe and healthy environment, if elected.
Kevin Priola (incumbent) (Republican Party): Priola assumed office in 2017 after a close battle against Democrat Jenise May in 2016. Before that, he represented District 56 in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2009 to 2017 and served as the state House minority whip. Priola is trained in finance and accounting. In legislative work, Priola is focused on transportation budgets and protecting existing revenue streams for the maintenance of transportation systems, as well as a balanced energy plan that is aimed at lowering energy prices and expanding domestic oil production while also exploring renewable technologies. He is a small business owner and supports other small business owners, as when he co-sponsored the bill that allowed alcohol takeout from restaurants and hotels during COVID-19.
Jeff Bridges (incumbent) (Democratic Party): Bridges worked with US Democratic Senator Ken Salazar before running for the Colorado House of Representatives in 2016 and serving until he was appointed by a Democratic vacancy committee to fill the District 26 seat in the Colorado State Senate in 2019. He received a Master’s of Divinity from Harvard and has been on the board of the Colorado Conservation Voters, as well as the Union Theological Seminary. He is proud that every bill he’s passed has had bipartisan support, including a comprehensive paid sick leave policy for Coloradans, the Restaurant Recovery Act, a small business grant program and a transportation plan to invest billions of dollars in roads, bridges and other transit without raising taxes.
Bob Roth (Republican Party): Roth was a member of the Aurora City Council from 2011 to 2019, when he left office to run for this senate seat in District 26. His career is in business development, where he works as a director for Intermountain Electric Inc. During his time on the Aurora City Council, Roth helped secure the Central Recreation Center without using money from the General Fund and solved numerous complaints from residents ranging from the continued operation of a local pool, a traffic signal installation and equal housing rights. Roth supports “reasonable police reform” which includes better training measures and more body cameras as well as mental health support.
Marc Solomon (Libertarian Party): According to Colorado Politics, Solomon is the author of “Stop Being Poor: And Learn How to Free Yourself From the Banks.” There is no more information about him at this time.
Chris Hansen (incumbent) (Democratic Party): Hansen assumed his Senate seat representing District 31 in January 2020 after his predecessor left. Before that, he was a member of the Colorado House of Representatives with District 6 since 2016. His top three campaign messages are: carbon-free Colorado, funding education and ending TABOR. His environmentalism is at the forefront of his mission, informed by more than 20 years of professional experience in the energy sector.
Doug Townsend (Republican Party): Townsend has lived in Colorado since 1999 and spent his professional career working as a certified public accountant, as well as serving in executive leadership roles such as CFO and CEO at a number of financial firms. Appropriately, Townsend promises to fight for fiscal responsibility should he be elected, as well as for limited government regulation or involvement, especially in the business community. He also calls upon his time as a school board president to talk about his interest in education that is focused on teaching and not on administrative work.
James Coleman (Democratic Party): Coleman is currently a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, District 7, but hopes to move into the Senate after this election. As a community organizer and member of the Colorado Black Chamber of commerce, INROADS and the Urban League of Metro Denver Young Professionals, Coleman understands the importance of connections within communities. His time in the House has led to bills that help with the rising cost of living, with education and access to information about higher education and with increasing student financial aid, among others.
Jerry Burton (Unity Party): Burton is originally from Alabama and comes from a large family. He enlisted in the Marine Corps out of high school and was stationed throughout the country and even in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His website maintains that his platform can be summed up in three words: equality for all. Mainly, the issue that he has written the most about is homelessness and how we need to address homelessness with more compassion and empathy.
Colorado House of Representatives
The Lowdown: The Colorado House of Representatives works with the Senate and Colorado Governor, as stated previously. This year, all 65 seats are up for election. The current party split in the House is 41 Democrats to 24 Republicans. Districts in and around Denver include Districts 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, with voters in Districts 7 and 8 left with only one option.
How to find your representative: Plug in your address to this map to find your district number and current state Representative.
Alec Garnett (incumbent) (Democratic Party): Garnett took office in January 2015 and started serving as the House majority leader in 2019. During his time as a Colorado Representative, he sponsored bills that have led to the allowance of dogs on restaurant patios, CDPHE inspections of penal institutions and the designation of an annual pass for entrance into state parks for active members of the National Guard (as a few examples). His legislative style is responsive to his constituents, he’s active on social media and vocal about his opinions and beliefs.
Victoria Partridge (Republican Party): Partridge was born in Sydney, Australia, and has worked as a flight attendant for 16 years. She believes that her parents, who live in Parker, raised her with “good strong Christian values.” The three key messages of her campaign, according to her own responses to a Ballotpedia survey are: homelessness, parental choice and lowering taxes, although she does not provide specific policy guidelines or actions. She also responded that she believes her life experience outside of the political world is more important than experience in government.
Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez (incumbent) (Democratic Party): Gonzales-Gutierrez took office in January 2019 and is seeking re-election. She was born and raised in North Denver and worked as a youth counselor, social caseworker and director for the Denver Collaborative Partnership before becoming a Representative. During her time in the House, she sponsored bills relating to COVID-19 housing assistance, opportunities for mobile home residents, student safety and visa requirements for immigrants.
Grant Price (Republican Party): Aside from being a self-proclaimed Constitutional Conservative, there is not much information publicly available about Price or his priorities or background. From his personal Facebook page, it appears he attended Regis University and is from Colorado.
Alex Valdez (incumbent) (Democratic Party): Valdez assumed office last year as a Representative after receiving almost 80% of the votes in 2018. He was raised in Metro Denver and has always been a Democrat, saying that he’s proud of a party that supports his identity as an LGBTQ person of color. Some of the bills he sponsored during his first term included a low-emission vehicle preferential access lane, an increase to public protections against toxic air emissions and changing how pharmacists can provide HIV infection prevention medications to patients.
Jonathan Woodley (Republican Party): Woodley joined the National Guard at the age of 33 in 2013 and currently serves as a Sergeant. This is the first time he has pursued an elected position in politics. His main career has been managing restaurants primarily in Downtown Denver, like Yard House, as well as pursuing higher education. The main points behind his campaign are about protecting certain things. According to his website, he vows to protect school choice, 1st and 2nd Amendment rights, parental rights, TABOR, religious rights, “the unborn” and “law and order” if elected.
Joe Richardson (Unity Party): No information about this candidate is available at this time.
Steven Woodrow (incumbent) (Democratic Party): Woodrow joined the House in 2020 when Senator Chris Hansen moved from that position to the Senate. Originally from Detroit, Woodrow worked as an attorney before running for office and took the position shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic started. His time so far has been impactful, as he was a co-sponsor to the police accountability bill (SB 217) as well as the repeal of the death penalty in Colorado. He is a fierce advocate for the worker and individual consumer and as an attorney, he litigated class actions against national banks, telemarketers and debt collectors. In his Ballotpedia survey, he mentions that he “cares deeply about facts and science” and has a strong desire to get money out of politics, reporting that he has taken no corporate PAC money.
William McAleb (Republican Party): Hailing originally from Texas, McAleb primarily has experience in the energy industry and in corporate growth and development. He has developed a system that he believes guarantees success, called ITT — Innovation, Trust and Teamwork. In that system, McAleb finds that solutions are about building “deep trust” often with people who do not share the same opinions, goals or agendas as he does. He believes he’s approachable, transparent and innovative in solving problems. He’s outspoken about his dislike of riots, looting and arson during the protests this summer, and also outspoken about the protection of 2nd Amendment rights.
Jeffrey Crowe (Libertarian Party): No information about this candidate is available at this time.
Emily Sirota (incumbent) (Democratic Party): Sirota’s first term as a Representative started in 2019, but she had experience in politics before as a policy aide to a Democratic US Senator, a Democratic congressman and a Democratic governor. She has a Master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver and brings her progressive ideas to the legislative branch. This year, she was the primary sponsor for a bill that requires Holocaust and genocide studies in public schools in Colorado. She is highly focused on education in other ways, including trying to divert more money to K-12 education and supporting free tuition for in-state students at public colleges and universities. Sirota also rejects corporate PAC money, with her first passed bill during her term limiting county election contributions which previously had no limit.
Larry Braig (Republican Party): Braig is a retired Denver firefighter who spent 34 years providing a valuable and oftentimes dangerous service to the people of the Capitol Hill neighborhood and greater southeast area. He believes that government should be a reflection of the public will and stoutly disagrees with the single-payer health care program in Colorado which he reports was voted against by nearly 80% of voters. He also seems to support renewable energy solutions, although his campaign website is a little more vague than that. He stands behind TABOR and values the electoral college.
Wes Pinchot (Libertarian Party): There isn’t much information publicly available about Pinchot, but a quick perusal through his personal Facebook page will easily tell you that he supports Jo Jorgensen for President and that he believes in the power of a third party representative, especially one who champions the rights of the individual.
Colorado State Board of Education
The Lowdown: Three seats out of seven are up for election for the Colorado State Board of Education and at least two new people will join the board at the start of 2021. These members will make crucial decisions for Colorado schools like furthering a big initiative to improve reading comprehension and helping improve low-performing schools. They will also play a big role in helping schools through the current pandemic crisis. Currently, seats in District 1, 3 and 7 are open for elections. As a Denver publication, we’ve included information for races in the city.
To find out what Colorado Congressional District you reside in, go here.
Lisa Escarcega (Democratic Party): The Detroit native has an expansive career in education — working everywhere from Aurora Public Schools to Colorado Association of School Executives. She was the first in her family to get a four-year degree and also holds a master’s and a doctorate. She wants to change the definition of a”quality school” based on values rather than standardized testing and data.
Sydnnia Wulff (Republican Party): Wulff describes herself as a patriot and Christian that believes “in God, in preserving the Constitution, the rule of law, and in President Trump.” She is an attorney whose platform focuses on lengthening the school year, raising teacher salaries, funding for more private schools and cutting down on administrative positions.
Zachary Laddison (Approval Voting Party): Laddison explained he is not running for this position but rather is on the ballot to raise awareness for the Approval Voting Party. Their platform wants to institute a new voting system for all political elections where voters are able to choose and rank their top picks rather than just selecting one candidate.
Alan Hayman (Libertarian Party): Hayman is running on the idea that students and families should have as many choices as possible when it comes to education options. As a Libertarian, he is for more freedom rather than restrictions for parents, students and the school board. However, there are no available specifics on his plans and little information is known about his background.
For more information on District 3 and 7 races go here.
For information on the Colorado State Board of Regent, races go here
The Lowdown: Across Colorado, there are seven district attorney races being held. District attorneys (DA) focus on matters pertaining to police arrests, whether to charge arrested people with crimes and prosecuting criminal cases in court. DAs have been in the national and local spotlight as well since they also decide whether to bring charges against cops involved in an injury or a killing.
Beth McCann (incumbent)(Democrat): Former state representative and current Denver DA, McCann is the first woman to serve in this position in the Mile High City. Her platform is summed up as “smarter criminal justice.” According to a Q&A with the Denver Post, her top priorities focus on systems that review cases with claims of innocence or harsh rulings; working with legislators on mandatory minimum sentences, habitual criminal statutes and the felony murder statute; and expanding restorative justice and gun control programs. This summer, she was also the subject of a number of protests due to her decision to not prosecute the officer involved in the deadly shooting of William Debose.
William F. Robinson III (Libertarian): The Unitarian Minister and long time attorney is running with the promise to be a watchdog. With four decades of practicing criminal defense, domestic and civil law, he plans to prosecute corporations and get rid of overcharging defendants as a way to get them to go into a plea bargain. According to this interview, his main focus would be to investigate individuals and corporations involved in overcharging taxpayers for construction at DIA, the National Western Stock Show, the Convention and Performing Arts Center.
The Lowdown: It’s not uncommon for Colorado voters to dread the judge’s section. With little to no widely publicized information of the names listed below, many people find themselves voting blind. Fortunately, there are resources available — if you know where to look. Below we’ve listed the names and the status of the performance reviews of each judge, as determined by their peers. While it’s uncommon for judges to not meet recommendations, the review gives you insight into their practices and whether any dissenting opinions exist. Take a look below, then continue on to their pages to learn more about each judge.
Colorado Supreme court
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 11-0; Attorneys 90% yes, 5% no, and 5% had no opinion. Judges 98% yes and 2% no.
Excerpt from the review: “Comments from attorneys and judges highlighted Justice Hart’s engagement with the community; her thoughtful and respectful approach to counsel, parties, and other justices; and her exceptional intellect. The Commission also finds her opinions to be concise, thoughtful, and well reasoned.”
Read the full review here
Carlos A. Samour Jr
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 11-0; Attorneys 69% yes, 13% no, and 19% had no opinion. Judges 93% yes and 7% no.
Excerpt from the review: Samour “demonstrates an admirable work ethic, and issues decisions in a timely manner. During oral arguments he allows the parties to present their positions, is respectful of their allotted time, and asks them insightful questions. His opinions are well organized, and he has a creative writing style that keeps the reader’s interest without compromising clarity.”
Colorado Appellate Court
Ted C. Tow III
Meets Judicial Performance Standard? : State Commission 11-0; attorneys 66% yes, 31% no, and 3% had no opinion. Judges 96% yes and 4% no
Excerpt from the review: “Judge Tow skillfully applies case law in his decisions. The Commission does urge him to remain mindful of the mechanical aspects of writing and to engage in a robust editing process. At oral argument, Judge Tow displays an appropriate demeanor, uses self-deprecating humor, and asks insightful and succinct questions.”
Read the full review here.
Craig R. Welling
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 11-0; Attorneys 84% yes, 16% no. Judges 98% yes, 2% no.
Excerpt from the review: “ The Commission finds that Judge Welling’s written opinions, although somewhat lengthy, provide clear and detailed explanations of his decisions and reasoning. The Commission commends Judge Welling’s commitment to seeking out ways to continually improve on his judicial processes, as demonstrated by his survey scores on issuing timely opinions, which significantly improved since his interim evaluation.”
Denver County Court Judges
Meets Judicial Performance Standard? : State Commission 10-0; Attorneys 88% yes, 13% no.
Excerpt from the review: “Judge Faragher has been described by attorneys as ‘friendly and efficient manner on the bench,’ ‘very careful to go over the law relating to her rulings with the parties’ and an ‘excellent jurist.’”
Read the full review here
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 10-0; Attorneys 30% yes, 50% no, 20% no opinion.
Excerpt from the review: “The Commission had previously notified Judge Pallarés about concerns regarding demeanor. The Commission was impressed with her prompt, proactive efforts to address those concerns.”
Read the full review here
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 10-0; Attorneys 74% yes, 22% no, 4% no opinion.
Excerpt from the review: “For communications, she received an average score and her demeanor score was just slightly below average. Scores from non-attorneys were very high in all categories. The Commission was impressed with her overall ratings and the positive comments from those who answered the survey.”
Read the full review here
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 10-0; Not enough attorneys participated; non-attorneys 100%
Excerpt from the review: “In the survey results, compared to other county judges standing for retention, Judge Rudolph scored higher than average in all areas, including case management, application and knowledge of the law, communications, diligence, demeanor, and fairness. Only a small number of attorneys returned surveys, and their scores on the same categories were slightly below the average for other judges standing for retention. “
Read the full review here
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 7-3; Attorneys 68% yes, 23% no, 9% no opinion.
Excerpt from the review: “Judge Schwartz is a new judge, the Commission had previously notified Judge Schwartz of concerns that he exhibits a bias in favor of parties who represent themselves, concerns about his application of the law, and concerns about inconsistent application of laws and rules.”
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 10-0; Attorneys 92% yes, 8% no opinion.
Excerpt from the review: “Judge Simonet’s ranking by attorneys on categories of judicial performance (case management, application and knowledge of law, communications, diligence and demeanor) were significantly higher than average for all County court judges standing for retention in every category.”
Read the full review here
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 10-0; no information from attorneys
Excerpt from the review: “Together, all of the other Denver County Court judges recently nominated Judge Spahn for the County Court Judge of the Year award from the Colorado Judicial Institute.”
Second Judicial Court Judges (Denver)
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 10-0; Attorneys 87% yes, 4% no, 9% no opinion.
Excerpt from the review: “In the survey results from attorneys, compared to other district judges standing for retention, Judge Baumann scored slightly higher than average in the categories of application and knowledge of law and demeanor, slightly below average on diligence, and average in the category of communications.”
Read the full review here
Martin F. Egelhoff
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 10-0; Attorneys 87% yes,9% no, 4% no opinion.
Excerpt from the review: “Judge Egelhoff received high scores from attorneys and non-attorneys for demeanor, diligence, and fairness. Judge Egelhoff is described as an even-handed, fair jurist who efficiently manages his docket. ”
Read the full review here
John E. Elliff
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 10-0; Attorneys 83% yes, 17% no
Excerpt from the review: “Judge Elliff received ratings slightly below the statewide average among all District Court judges standing for retention with regard to the areas surveyed: (1) application and knowledge of law, (2) communications, (3) diligence, and (4) demeanor. He received a rating slightly above the statewide average among all District Court judges standing for retention with regard to (1) fairness.”
Read the full review here
Alan B. Jones
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 10-0; Attorneys 77% yes, 23% no
Excerpt from the review: “Judge Jones received a perfect score for fairness and an average rating for communications when compared to all district court judges standing for retention this year. When compared to that same pool of judges, he received survey ratings slightly below the statewide average in these areas: case management; application and knowledge of law, diligence, and demeanor.”
Read the full review here
Michael James Vallejos
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 10-0; Attorneys 84%, 10% no, 6% no opinion.
Excerpt from the review: “Judge Vallejos scored slightly below average in application and knowledge of the law, average in case management, communications, demeanor and diligence and significantly above average in fairness.”
Read the full review here
Elizabeth D. Leith
Meets Judicial Performance Standard?: State Commission 10-0; Attorneys 91%, 2% no, 7% no opinion.
Excerpt from the review: “Commission concludes that Judge Leith excels in all of the categories of performance standards the Commission reviews. Judge Leith had notably high performance in case management, application and knowledge of the law, communications, diligence, and demeanor.”
Read the full review here
State Amendments and Propositions
What: Amendment B would repeal the Gallagher Amendment, which was originally introduced in 1982 to curb rising residential property taxes. It did this by adjusting the tax rates so that residential property owners paid no more than 45% of the overall tax base, whereas commercial property owners are responsible for 55%. Since residential property value has risen in Colorado much faster than commercial property, residential property taxes have been lowered to keep the current split of 55/45. Voting yes on Amendment B would get rid of this rule so residential property taxes stay the same, and will not get readjusted for lower rates in favor of stabilizing funding for public services like schools, fire and police departments.
Pros: Amendment B will not increase property taxes, but rather keep them as. Additionally, any increase would have to be approved by voters first. Approving this measure also prevents funding cuts that go towards supporting local governments, schools and public services — especially in rural areas. This bill sees bipartisan support since local governments are facing massive deficits due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cons: If approved, this measure will guarantee that residential property taxes will not go down in the future. This includes the expected 18% residential property tax cut in 2021. This would be bad news for homeowners, especially during an economic recession. It may also impact renters if landlords pass on increased costs to tenants. This would likely only worsen the affordable housing situation in Colorado.
Cost: Approving B will not increase residential property taxes from what they are today, but it will prevent them from being lower for many residential property owners in the future.
Additional info: Amendment B is a complex subject that will create some major changes that are hard to predict amidst the pandemic. Additional reading from the Colorado Sun, as well as this Youtube debate from PBS, may help you better understand what’s at stake.
What: Amendment C would change the law to allow nonprofits to apply for a bingo-raffle license after three years rather than five. It also allows the nonprofits to hire people to run the bingo games for minimum wage, instead of only allowing volunteers to run the game.
Pros: Passing Amendment C would help save a dying bingo industry that is designed to help raise money for non-profits like youth sports, church and veteran organizations. According to the Colorado Charitable Bingo Association, only 11 bingo halls exist and only 800 of the state’s 9,000 nonprofits have a license to run a bingo game. The Amendment has bipartisan support.
Cons: While no organized opposition exists to this amendment, there is some concern the new rules would downplay the charitable focus of the bingo games and create more overhead that would take away money for the non-profits’ mission. Also, there is an increased cost to the state if this Amendment is passed.
Cost: Initially more revenue will be generated for the state due to more application and renewal fees. But this $5,000 generated annually will not offset the total $83,000 the state will have to pay in administrative work for new licenses in the first year and an additional $37,500 set aside for similar work in future annual budgets.
Additional info: Read Denver Channel 7’s interview with Colorado Charitable Bingo Association here.
What: Amendment 76 will change the Colorado Constitution in order to further establish the eligibility of voters. Currently, any US citizen may vote after turning 18, unless they are voting in a primary race when they are 17 and the general election will occur once they turn 18. This amendment would take away the possibility of 17-year-olds voting in primaries, and it will prevent the state from allowing noncitizens to vote in the future with another amendment to the wording. The wording changes from “every citizen” to “only a citizen” of the US who is 18 years old or older can vote.
Pros: This amendment clarifies the Constitution if you support the current voting age of 18 and do not want that age to change in the future. It prevents any loophole reading of the current Constitution’s voting eligibility requirements.
Cons: It confuses an existing requirement by making it more wordy and redundant (it is already required that a voter is 18 years old) and makes a decisive move in the direction of prohibiting all noncitizens from voting at any point in the future.
Cost: There is no cost for this Amendment either way
Additional info: Ballotpedia’s breakdown is helpful in describing who is in support and in opposition of this amendment. The main support is the committee Citizen Voters Inc, of Florida, founded by a Republican member of the Missouri State Legislature from 1995 to 2008. Opponents include the ACLU of Colorado, ProgressNow Colorado and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.
What: Amendment 77 gives voters in Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City the power to remove the current betting limit of $100 at Colorado casinos and add new games. This will not impact sports betting or casinos in Ute tribal territory. Additionally, 77 expands a current rule where tax revenue is generated to support community colleges. Under 77, community colleges can then use that money to retain students and help them graduate. Currently, revenue can only be used for items such as financial aid, classroom instruction and workforce development programs.
Pros: Proponents of 77 argue that the power of betting limits should be set by citizens in the town where casinos are located. Also, this will help expand revenue and how it can be used for community colleges and help an industry during a recession. Additionally, it can help increase tourism to these areas impacted by the pandemic as well.
Cons: Those against 77 argue that removing betting limits will increase the negative effects of gambling addictions and they dislike that none of the tax revenue goes towards curbing that addiction. Also, 77 gives this new power to roughly 2,000 Colorado residents. Some argue that all Colorado voters should have a say in casino limits, especially those who live in neighboring communities that may feel the impacts of increased traffic and drunk driving from the casinos.
Cost: Amendment 77 will not raise taxes for individuals, but will probably increase taxes for casinos which will raise revenue for state and local governments. But primarily for the local governments in the cities where the casinos are located. Also, state spending will probably go up for community colleges.
Additional info: The Colorado Sun has a guide to both how 77 and C work and how they are connected.
What: Proposition EE increases taxes on cigarette and tobacco products, as well as, creates a new tax that includes vaping products. Currently, vaping products are not included in any state cigarette and tobacco tax. It would also raise the minimum cost for a pack of cigarettes to $7 in 2021 and $7.50 by 2024. EE would also lower taxes on some products that are designated as lower risk by the FDA (although this cannot include vaping products). The new tax revenue will go towards funding K-12 education, rural schools, affordable housing, eviction assistance, tobacco education and healthcare. If approved, it will also provide 10 hours a week of free preschool care for all kids the year before they go to kindergarten.
Pros: The proposition hopes to help children by creating free preschool and deterring them from vaping through increased cost. Also, schools, which are facing further funding cuts due to the pandemic, need the extra revenue and this proposition would provide that.
Cons: Proposition EE has been criticized as being designed to benefit Altria (the maker of Marlboro) since they currently corner the market on products approved by the FDA as lower risk. Also those against EE worry the taxes create a financial burden for low-income people and hurt businesses by passing along fees to them. Additionally, there’s a concern that funding for education shouldn’t come from a tax of an addictive product that will eventually reduce over time, when the needs for education will likely only increase.
Cost: According to the Blue Book, EE will increase individual taxes by an average of $38 in 2021-22 and $53 in 2027-2028.
Additional info: CPR breaks down the controversy around Altria in more detail here.
What: This proposition offers voters in Colorado the opportunity to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), which would give the state’s nine electoral college votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote, rather than letting the electoral college give their own votes. That would only happen if at least 270 electoral college votes (and their corresponding states) adopt the compact. A yes vote is in favor of this compact, a no vote is against.
Pros: The electoral college was designed for a time and society without an educated public. Now that nearly everyone has the right to vote and the ability to inform themselves about the issues and candidates, allowing a popular vote option and foregoing the electoral college would lead to a more representative democracy. Popular vote results should already inform the electoral college’s decision-making, but in recent elections, it has proven not to be the case.
Cons: The electoral college is a valued institution in American politics and many believe that without it, less populated areas in the country would be overlooked during campaigns. The Republican Party is against this ballot measure and insists that with the national popular vote option, Colorado’s individual votes would no longer matter as much as they do now.
Cost: There is no cost to passing or not passing this proposition
Additional info: Supporters of Proposition 113 include the American Federation of Teachers, the ACLU of Colorado, New Era Colorado, League of Women Voters Colorado, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center and many others. According to the co-chair of Colorado National Popular Vote Sylvia Bernstein, “the Electoral College system has resulted in 5 out of 45 American presidents not winning the popular vote.”
What: Proposition 114 asks voters to decide whether or not to create a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves on designated lands west of the Continental Divide by 2023. A yes vote would require that Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission must develop a plan, hold statewide hearings, periodically obtain public input and update the plan and use state funds to assist livestock owners in preventing conflicts with the introduced wolves and compensating if there are livestock losses due to the wolves.
Pros: Gray wolves play important ecological roles in ecosystems like the western part of Colorado, where they once lived before being eliminated by humans by the 1940s. An overabundance of elk and deer can lead to over-grazing of sensitive habitats and the presence of wolves helps to curb the consequences of large grazing populations. Other states have heralded successful recovery efforts with the gray wolf and without human intervention, it is uncertain that gray wolves will repopulate the state on their own accord.
Cons: As with any predator, gray wolves pose a threat to humans and livestock in certain situations. Additionally, some packs of wolves have been observed in Colorado in recent years, leading some to believe that they are establishing a presence on their own and do not need more human intervention to succeed.
Cost: Passing Proposition 114 would increase state spending by roughly $300,000 in the first year, $500,000 in the second year and $800,000 per year after that for implementation and management.
Additional info: The only way this proposition will be able to be enacted is if the federal designation for gray wolves is downgraded from endangered or the federal government grants approval to the state of Colorado. When a species is considered endangered, it is managed by federal offices and therefore a state measure like this one could not be implemented without federal oversight.
What: Proposition 115, if passed, takes aim at abortion rights in Colorado. It will prohibit abortion after 22 weeks except in cases where the abortion is immediately required to save the life of the pregnant woman. It will create a criminal penalty for any person who performs a prohibited abortion and it will require that the state suspend the medical license of a physician who violates the measure for up to three years.
Pros: Pro-life supporters believe this is a valuable measure that puts restrictions on mothers who are deciding to abort after a time when the fetus can technically live outside the womb. Other supporters believe it is a fair measure to take since it does not punish the women who might get abortions after 22 weeks, only the physicians who conduct the operation.
Cons: This takes away reproductive rights for Colorado women that have already been fought for vehemently by elected officials, NGOs and many other organizations and individuals. Colorado is one of seven states that allow abortion at any time — a freedom that should be granted to every person who is pregnant for any reason. Additionally, punishing doctors who perform the operation on women after the accepted window is a backward step in reproductive rights, especially when considering circumstances like nonviable pregnancies, because it assumes that legislative bodies know more about women’s health than a qualified doctor does.
Cost: This proposition will minimally increase state revenue from criminal fines and court fees by exacting damages on physicians and doctor’s offices, but it will also increase state spending and workload for the Department of Regulatory Agencies.
Additional info: Proponents for this measure have raised $257,398 in contributions, whereas opponents have raised more than $5 million. The largest donor in support was the Archdiocese of Denver. Both the Denver Post and Sentinel Colorado have published opposition articles to this proposition.
What: This proposition lowers the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55% across all income levels and for corporations (a flat tax rate). This amounts to less than $50 in tax savings for all income levels under $125,000, or an average of $37 per individual. It will lower the amount of money in the General Fund which is used to pay for health care, education, human services and other state programs.
Pros: For households earning $125,000 or more, the tax break will amount to hundreds of dollars per year. People who support this proposition believe that a tax break will help households impacted by COVID-19 by letting them keep some of their hard-earned money rather than paying for government programs.
Cons: Opponents believe that the decrease is small enough that for middle and low-income households — or 75% of the taxpaying population in Colorado — the reduction in the overall General Fund revenue will negatively outweigh the benefits of the tax break. The majority of the savings in this proposition will go to those who make more than $500,000 annually, including corporations. Additionally, the decrease in General Fund revenue will be compounded by the budget cuts already happening due to COVID-19.
Cost: It is estimated that it will reduce the state income tax revenue by $154 million in 2021-202, or 1.2% of the General Fund revenue for that year.
What: Placed on the ballot by a citizen initiative, Proposition 117 would require voter approval for new state government-owned businesses if revenues exceeded $100 million over the first five years of its existence. These government-owned businesses are called enterprises, and currently include things like Colorado Lottery, Parks and Wildlife, Higher Education Colleges, Universities and Auxiliary Institutions and Correctional Industries. Under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) in Colorado, government revenue is limited to a set amount and revenue collected over the limit must be refunded to taxpayers or can be retained by the government if approved by taxpayers. This proposition would change how enterprises currently avoid TABOR limits, requiring enterprises to be voter-approved in order to form and stay in business.
Pros: Colorado’s TABOR ensures that every voting citizen in the state has a say in how excess revenue is spent. If enterprises charge people fees, such as the sale fee for a lottery ticket or the cost of a hunting license, people should be able to approve or deny the existence of the fee collectors through voting. Some fees from enterprises are not as avoidable as one might think and are therefore more akin to taxes.
Cons: Enterprises are created in order to provide revenue for programs that not every taxpayer wants to support financially. If the TABOR requirements reach into enterprise programs, it will shift the responsibility of paying for certain government services from a self-selected group to the entire taxpaying population, leading to cuts in services that are currently paid for in fees paid to enterprises.
Cost: This would increase the workload for state agencies who would be responsible for estimating revenue of enterprises in order to determine whether an election is necessary. Other indirect impacts are not currently estimated.
Additional info: This deep dive into Proposition 117 by Denver Business Journals which explains the TABOR interaction in more detail.
What: Proposition 118 provides 12-weeks of paid family leave for various reasons. This includes serious health conditions for you or a family member, after the birth or adoption of a child, if a family member is on or leaving for active duty and if you or a family member is a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking. Family member is determined as someone related to you or anyone you have a significant personal bond with that is like a family member. The new program will be paid evenly by employees and employers. The amount is split 50/50 and is calculated as 0.90 percent of the individual employee’s wage. The amount each employee receives is also calculated by how much the employee makes. If the program is popular, the fee amount can go up to 1.2 percent of the employee’s wage. Companies with an approved private paid family or medical leave plans, or with nine or fewer employees, do not have to participate. Local governments can also opt-out. Self-employed individuals do not have to contribute but can opt-into the program by just paying the employee’s part of the fee. The program is expected to begin providing funds in 2024.
Pros: Only 18% of private industry employees have paid family leave, even though the majority of US employees say they have taken or will need time off for family or medical reasons. Proposition 118 provides needed insurance for all Coloradans so people don’t have to choose between their health and their jobs, something that has become increasingly problematic for Americans during a pandemic. Additionally paid family leave is proven to lower infant mortality rates and states like California have shown the program works. An actuarial study also found that the program will not go bankrupt as some detractors say it would.
Cons: Those against Proposition 118 are primarily worried about piling on costs to employees and employers during an economic downturn. They are also concerned the new fees will discourage small businesses from growing.
Cost: Employees and employers will have to pay a combined 0.90 percent (0.45 percent respectively) per individual. For example, if an employee makes $52,000 a year, both will be required to pay $234 annually. State revenue and spending will also increase. For a full economic analysis, check out the financial impact statement.
Additional info: The Blue Book has the best info if you’re wondering how much employees and employers will have to pay and how much you’ll receive based on different incomes.
Denver Ballot Measures
For all the Denver ballot measures listed below, a yes vote is in favor of changing the current law and a no vote is against changing the current law. The first four ballot measures below are part of TABOR (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) which requires that voters must approve any increase in taxes, or approve the appropriation of excess revenue from tax collection.
What: A yes vote for 2A will allow the city and county of Denver to add 0.25% sales tax to fund climate-change related programs. It’s estimated that this sales tax increase will generate $40 million per year. It will change the sales tax rate in Denver from 8.31% to 8.56%. Some items will be exempt from the extra sales tax, like food, water, fuel, medical supplies and feminine hygiene products. The extra revenue will solely fund the Climate Action Program, a new effort to combat climate change through job creation and training, neighborhood-based environmental and climate justice programs, the implementation of green transportation options including biking and walking routes through the city and the upgrading of homes, offices and industrial buildings to reduce their carbon footprint. It is stated in the ballot measure that this new dedicated funding should “maximize investments in communities of color, under-resourced communities and communities most vulnerable to climate change” by endeavoring to invest 50% of the fund to those communities.
Pros: The added revenue and the creation of the Climate Action Program will create new jobs and more interest and expertise in the burgeoning field of climate justice. Since there is no national leadership offering climate mitigation plans, cities like Denver must do it alone, and so far the city’s sustainability office has been limited and largely ineffective. 2A will provide opportunities for the most impacted communities to start implementing plans to adapt or mitigate climate change, with certain amounts dedicated to under-resourced areas and communities of color. Since the most necessary items are exempt from the tax, this added sales tax should not disproportionately impact the most vulnerable in the city.
Cons: The wording is vague in some areas — such as “neighborhood-based environmental and climate justice programs” or “endeavoring to invest 50%” — which could lead to varied interpretations of the measure. There is no “sunset” date on this added tax, which means that once it is passed it will require another ballot measure to cease or change. Any added tax requires more money from taxpayers.
Cost: A $10 purchase in Denver on certain items will go from $10.83 to $10.85 with this added tax.
Additional info: Watch this Denver Decides video with an opponent and a proponent debating the issues in 2A.
What: A yes vote for 2B will allow the city and county of Denver to add 0.25% sales tax to fund programs addressing homelessness. It’s estimated that this sales tax increase will generate $40 million per year. It will change the sales tax rate in Denver from 8.31% to 8.56% (if 2A does not pass) or from 8.56% to 8.81% if both 2A and this one are approved by voters. Some items will be exempt from the extra sales tax, like food, water, fuel, medical supplies and feminine hygiene products. The Homelessness Resolution Program will be funded entirely by the added tax revenue and will be spent on housing, shelter and services for those experiencing or just exiting homelessness. This will include capital improvements to existing housing, new or renovated housing, rental assistance, new shelters and improving existing shelters’ capacity as well as other supportive services.
Pros: According to a study conducted by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, there are now more than 4000 people experiencing homelessness in Denver. This summer sweeps conducted by police of the homeless camps in Civic Center Park and surrounding areas provoked protests and confrontation, although those could be avoided if there were enough resources for the unsheltered individuals to prevent “tent cities.” With the added strain of COVID-19, homelessness will only be more of an issue in the immediate future and Denver needs a better plan to address it than whatever is currently happening.
Cons: Whether this is passed alone or with 2A, it will raise the sales tax and therefore put added strain on the average taxpayer. According to the Blue Book opponent’s argument, we should look to nonprofit service providers like the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, who pay their executive’s six-figure salaries before we ask taxpayers to pay for more services.
Cost: A $10 purchase in Denver on certain items will go from $10.83 to $10.85 with this added tax. If 2A and 2B are passed, it will be $10.87
Additional info: This thorough article from The Colorado Sun explaining how homelessness in Denver is a vast and nuanced issue that will require never-ending work to address.
What: 4A would create a new property tax to help better fund schools. The new property tax would cost about $4 per month/ $51 a year for average property owners. The $32 million increase would support a wide range of initiatives including new school nurses, increased teacher and school staff wages, classroom improvement, mental health support and more.
Pros: For a relatively low cost per property owner, schools could get much-needed support during the pandemic, including funding for more school nurses who could monitor COVID-19. Colorado also consistently ranks as a state with the lowest amount of spending on schools. This measure could help change that.
Cons: This is not the only measure on the ballot this year that will increase property taxes in Colorado. If passed, Amendment B could potentially get rid of any future decreases of local property taxes and therefore property owners will bear the brunt of costs for these new government programs. Also if property values go down or the district can’t raise enough funds, 4A allows additional mill levies to be added.
Cost: 4A would cost $32 million in new property taxes and, if needed, up to four mill levies can be added. For example, 4A would increase Denver’s property tax rate by 1.55 mills in 2021. According to Colorado Politics, that’s the equivalent of $51 per year on a home valued at $465,000.
Additional info: Colorado Politics does a good job of explaining the pros and cons in detail for both 4A and 4B
What: Similar to 4A, 4B aims to raise money for local schools. But instead of a tax increase, it does it through a $795 million bond measure. 4B also focuses more on upgrading school infrastructure including adding air conditioning, renovating school buildings by repairing roofs and structural issues, modernizing older schools with computers and technology, adding classrooms and improving school’s learning environments and safety.
Pros: 4B does not create a new tax and gives schools important upgrades in order for them to accommodate the growing number of students in Denver Public Schools. Also, no one submitted opposition to 4B in the Blue Book.
Cons: Even though 4B would not create a new tax, property taxes will go down if it is not approved. Also because of potential interest occurred on the bond, taxpayers will have to pay more than the proposed initial $795 million. The Denver Republican party is against the measure and argues that the district continually asks for money through taxes and should use its current funds and budget reserves.
Cost: 4B would raise $795 million, but could end up costing as much a $1.5 billion with interest.
Additional info: Colorado Politics does a good job of explaining the pros and cons in detail for both 4A and 4B
What: 2C asks voters to give City Council the authority to seek out and pay for professional services without executive branch approval. These professional services could include attorneys, investigators, engineers, experts and others. Currently, City Council is unable to hire these services without approval by the administration and so 2C would amend that in the Charter of the City and County of Denver.
Pros: City Council makes laws, budgets the city’s money and can investigate city agencies and employees. However, it is at the whims of the mayor and the staff appointed by the mayor, which makes situations like investigating the mayor for sexual harassment problematic. With the passage of 2C, City Council would be able to hire outside contractors for jobs that require expertise without needing to assuage the current administration.
Cons: There are no posted comments or oppositions to this ballot measure. According to this Denverite article, Mayor Hancock is neutral about it.
Cost: City Council believes that 2C would not incur any additional costs to the budget unless dedicated staffing is needed in order to find, hire and pay professional service providers.
Additional info: This measure will not create confusion about who represents the City in legal matters, it is clearly worded to allow the council to engage experts to fulfill its responsibilities and nothing more.
What: 2D creates an advisory board to oversee the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, which was created just in 2019 to advance a more multi-modal transportation system in Denver (think more buses, bike lanes and pedestrian safety). Consisting of volunteers, the board will help interject community input to transportation and infrastructure projects. It’ll consist of 19 board members with six being appointed by the mayor and 13 by the city council.
Pros: The program will not create any new costs since the board will be made up of volunteers. It’ll also give communities more power to steer projects in directions that line-up with community needs.
Cons: There is no formal opposition to 2D but there are some concerns the board would not have enough power to make sure its recommendations are followed and that it could slow public works projects.
Cost: There is no cost associated with 2D
Additional info: Denverite discusses how a similar board has been successful for Denver Parks and Recreation.
What: This ballot measure will approve the authority for city Council to consent to certain mayoral appointments. Currently, the mayor appoints every head of all administrative departments, commissions, boards and officers and City Council has no authority to consent or dissent. Some of the positions that would need to gain the consent of City Council if 2E passes include the Manager of Transportation, The Manager of Parks and Recreation, the Sheriff, the Chief of Police, the Chief of the Fire Department, the Manager of Finance, the Manager of Public Health and Environment and the City Attorney. Go here for a full list of positions that would require consent. 2E specifies that City Council must take action within 30 days of the nomination in order to expedite the process.
Pros: The mayor, and the mayor alone, decides who will receive many government positions that hold power. With 2E, the varied opinions of City Council will help to ensure that some of the most influential non-elected positions are representative of what voters want. This safeguards against nepotism and unqualified appointees. It also creates collaborative partnerships between City Council and the departments.
Cons: Requiring that 14 different positions need consent from the City Council could prove to be a logistical problem, for timing reasons and in the case of a mayor leaving office mid-term. Even with the 30-day guarantee, there is a chance that this extra step would disrupt normal City Council business. Some opponents believe that City Council has not shown professionalism toward the positions in question and are only using this as a means to discredit specific individuals.
Cost: There should be no added cost to the city budget with the passage of this measure unless a visiting candidate must stay in Denver for multiple sessions.
Additional info: This ballot measure is sponsored by City Councilwomen Amanda Sawyer and Candi CdeBaca and was brought forth to the ballot by a majority of councilmembers.
What: 2F updates the Denver City Charter so it removes language to give the city council more flexibility to call meetings when it needs to, as long as the public is given a 24-hour notice.
Pros: The new measure is supposed to help the city council be able to call meetings more easily, which can be helpful during times of emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cons: There is no opposition to this measure. The only concern is that 24 hours may not be enough time for the public to be informed of the meetings.
Cost: There is no cost associated with 2F
What: 2G would give the city council the power to make adjustments to the City budget throughout the year. Currently, the City Council can only make changes the November before the budget begins whereas the mayor can make changes throughout the year. Changes could only be made if seven of the 11 councilmembers approve and cannot result in a deficit. Changes would have to be compliant with any original restrictions designated for the funds and the council will have to consult Denver’s manager of finance first.
Pros: 2G would allow the council to be more proactive for issues as they arise throughout the year. Also, Denver has a strong mayoral system, so those wanting more representation on budget issues would like this change. Currently, the mayor makes about 20 changes a year to the city budget.
Cons: Those against the initiative argue the change could be disruptive when it comes to the city budget and that the council already has ways to propose changes to the budget.
Cost: There is no new cost associated with this measure.
Additional info: Colorado Politics talks with councilmembers past and present that are both for and against this measure.
What: 2H would let Denver spend money on broadband internet services and infrastructure. A law introduced in 2005 prohibited Colorado governments from doing so but over 100 local communities have voted to opt-out of the rule. 2H would not create a city-funded internet provider but would open the door to do so if the city chooses to.
Pros: Passing this law will help fill gaps in internet services and infrastructure by allowing the city to invest in these services either as a public good or in partnership with private providers. It’ll primarily help low-income families and those that do not have the financial resources to access the internet freely.
Cons: There is no formal opposition to this measure.
Cost: There is no cost associated with 2H.
What: 2I is a tricky ballot measure. In the shortened text of the approved voting guide, it only states that 2I would change the Clerk and Recorder’s number of appointed staff members from two to five, all of whom would be exempt from the career service personnel system. However, in the full bill, the position of Director of Elections would be removed entirely. 2I, therefore, asks voters to approve not only the appointment of three more staff members by the Clerk and Recorder but also to do away with the Director of Elections.
Pros: The Clerk and Recorder is responsible to voters and therefore should have the power to appoint high-level positions in the office to ensure that the office runs without internal conflict. It also ensures that if voters don’t like how the Clerk’s office is running, they can vote most of the staff out (since the staff would be mostly appointed by the elected Clerk and Recorder).
Cons: The Director of Elections has been approved by Denver voters on multiple occasions. It is deceitful to hide the true intent of this measure by not including the strike-out of this position in the summary provided for voters. Additionally, opponents do not understand why the current system of mixing appointed Clerk positions with career professionals is problematic, or why there would be a need to have more appointed positions that would likely work along party lines.
Cost: There is no additional cost to this measure, it is budget neutral.
Additional info: Current Clerk and Recorder Paul López believes that this measure would make the office more nimble and better able to adapt during times of crisis, and he has said that he would keep the Director of Elections in place if 2I passes, but that it would be an optional position for future Clerk and Recorders to fill.
What: This ballot measure would overturn the ban on pit bulls in Denver and require that pit bull owners microchip their pets, purchase breed-restricted permits annually and are limited to no more than two pit bulls in a home. In overturning the outright ban on pit bulls, 2J is not allowing a pit bull free-for-all, but rather a highly enforced and strict set of guidelines for responsible pit bull ownership.
Pros: Many groups have expressed the lack of evidence that violence is specific to dog breeds, and instead look to the dog owners and their treatment of the animal. With the restrictions detailed in 2J for owning a pit bull in Denver, pit bull owners will have to be more responsible which will ideally lead to trust of pit bulls.
Cons: When Denver enacted its pit bull ban in 1989, it was because the number of attacks by pit bulls concerned voters. Since its enactment, there have been no pit bull fatalities in Denver, which makes opponents to 2J fearful that allowing pit bulls back into the city will lead to increased attacks.
Cost: There will be additional revenues and costs associated with this ballot measure. Revenues will come from permit, license and breed evaluation fees (paid for by the pit bull owners). Adding staff, equipment, licensing vendors and engaging the community about the change will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, coming from the city budget.
Additional info: Varying opinions are discussed in this TIME article called The Problem With Pit Bulls