November 4, 2009

Boulder City Council Election Parties, Results and Analysis.


For all Boulder City Council, School Board and other results, click here.

Our Council Members

1. Suzy Ageton, incumbent, received by far the most votes. I gave her honorable mention in my endorsements.

2. Matt Appelbaum, Mayor. I endorsed him.

3. Macon Cowles, incumbent, despite being the inspiration for the business community (they revile him, by and large, for actually bothering to read his weekly packet of homework, fighting for “green,” and asking tough questions), won. I endorsed him.

4. KC Becker: now the youngest Council member by far, at 39, she’s a mom and environmentalist who nevertheless had widespread business community support. I endorsed her.

5. George K, that rare breed known as a Boulder Republican. Despite not actively campaigning “with the people” (he missed both debates I moderated) he raised bucket loads of money and, having been a local business owner for 30 years, had so many friendships and connections to draw on, he was in like Flynn.

Other current Councilors who were not up for re-election: Crystal Gray, who I know pretty well and like a great deal, Susan Osborne, who I know only a bit and like, Ken Wilson, who I like and respect, Liza Morzel, who I agree with frequently on issues and also like. Lots of liking going on.

For videos and info on all the candidates, search our web site (they all wrote articles for us), or click here.

Above: a photo of election results as they came in. Final vote counts are reflecting in my numbering of the candidates’ names, above.


A New Media Rising side-note: this was the first election in recent memory where the only media players were the Daily Camera/Colorado Daily (same reporting, same company) first,

…then the independent, local Boulder Weekly,

…then a bunch of blogs including elephantjournal.com, which was included in ads by Fenno, Macon, Tim, and publicity by Barry and KC.


I was at both election parties last night, having endorsed and voted for candidates in both camps.

There were two parties. One, with Barry Siff, KC Becker, George K, Fenno Hoffman and other more business-friendly candidates, was huge and loud and, every time results came in, they booed Macon Cowles name. A little ugly. But, great energy, tons of people, some young people, and lots of great business owners.

The other party, at the Boulderado, was puny. Old. Sad. With the exception of Macon, it was defeated. These were my people, really, the people who had made Boulder great—the Sierra Clubbers, the PLAN Boulderers…and they were wondering, “what’s going on? What’s happening to this city?” One good point: the food spread was exceptional. Great olives. And I got to know and hang with Jyotsna Raj, who I didn’t endorse or vote for, and who was in a firey mood, and I really got to like her. Also present: Valerie Mitchell, a great young candidate looking out for the rental community (who failed, clearly, to come out and vote) and a visibly stunned Tim Plass, the best new candidate in my book. And there were some great old war horses—elderly women who had served in the State Senate, others who had worked for our community since back in the 30s and 40s, when they were young.


In tough economic times, as we all know, Americans vote conservative. As Ken Wilber says, it’s the “Democrats are Mommy—compassionate, caring—Republicans are Father—strong, protective” cliche.

It’s a sad cliche, and unlike most cliches, it’s got less than no sense to it. Of the last four or five US Presidents, the economy’s always been worse under the “fiscal conservatives,” and better under the “tax n’spend liberals.” Click here for more on that.

Boulder is no exception. The rising tide may raise all boats, but a sinking economy (even if provoked by the greatest spending, China borrowing and bubble tolerating conservative in recent history) causes us to, a la Maslow’s Pyramid, focus less on others’ welfare and more on our house and home, family and bank accounts.

In Boulder, as liberal a City as there is (though more and more conservative, well-off types move in every year) voted (for the first time in 20 odd years) against an Open Space tax extension and ClimateSmart program, voted for a “Jesus is my Hero” conservative on School Board (and he’s not talking about birkenstock wearing, long haired, mercy compassion and forgiveness hippie Jesus) and, for our Boulder City Council, we voted on a registered Republican.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I may be a greenie bike-riding liberal, but I dig many traditional Republican values. Traditional Republican values of less-government is the best government (Jefferson), conservation (Teddy and Nixon did a great deal for our environmental protections) and Isolationism (non-involvement in foreign wars). But modern conservatism, neo conservatism, is something else altogether. The party of Dubya, Rush and Hannity is fear-based, insecure, strident and judgmental. It’s ain’t about “compassionate conservatism,” that’s for sure. Click here for some recent evidence on that.

So, on a night when Republicans won races in New Jersey, Virginia and turned back a same sex marriage rights initiative in Maine, on a night when even liberal green-loving Boulder veered right—and only 35% of our active, activist, well-educated citizens bothered to exercise our freedom to vote), Democrats across the country have to regard this as a warning for the much bigger election cycle in 2010.

A shot across the bow.

Will we wake up in time to give our new President a chance to do more than fight a bad economy he inherited? Or will we return to the partisan, future-dimming days of neo-Conservativism?

It’s funny: in Boulder, most voters seem to think the current (now former) Council was far too liberal. But, in thinking about running, I attended months of meetings and saw countless decisions split 5-3 or drawn even. Now, with nine councilors once more (Shaun McGrath, our former mayor, had been drafted by Obama to DC) there’s one more vote in the realtor’s, developers’ and business column.

Thing is, George K, the registered Repulican, is like myself a longtime Boulderite, a local business owner. George is a gentleman. And I don’t have a thing against a healthy local business economy—in fact, I’m all for it, of course. Shopping locally (instead of online, or in Broomfield) is what pays for our great green City to run, and to continually improve, and to maintain and expand our historic Open Space program.

But when a great green-minded candidate like Tim Plass comes forward, and loses, and when a great business savvy, outdoorsy and yet still green-minded candidate like Barry Siff loses, you gotta wonder.

Where are we taking the great green experiment known as Boulder?

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