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October 7, 2021

Elephant Endorsements: Boulder City Council. Who do you support, & why?

Update: I’m playing catch up, but meeting with any and all candidates for Boulder City Council asap. Let me know if you’d like to meet up for coffee. Our most important issues this year, are climate crisis and affordability, along with innovative, practical help for homelessness, local business, protected bike lanes/public transport, and Covid. ⁠

Elephant Journal has for many years held forums, live debates, and events (often with New Era Colorado) for the citizens of Boulder to make an informed choice that’s as slate-free and thoughtful as possible, with as little of the shallow, one-sided, toxic knee-jerk one-liners that pass for dialogue as possible.⁠

Pictured: Redford “Scotch” Lewis (Scotch was his name when I adopted him from Boulder Humane) and Mark Wallach, who Elephant Journal officially endorses. He’s sharp, savvy, funny (a rarity in politics, and a salve for invective), grounded, that rare candidate both slates and all sides respect.

Will be updated with endorsements daily.

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Just met with Michael Christy, and his dog Charlie—Redford, at 14, and I joined them for a hike up and down Sanitas, this morning.

Along with Matt, Mark, Lauren, might be one of the few candidates who should appeal to Boulder values of equity, affordability, climate crisis *and* be able to address problems/failings in Boulder on those values beyond the rather strident slates. He’s a good guy, a genuine, kind, caring, smart, sharp, deeply decent guy, and I’m proud to endorse him. He’ll be great for Boulder, whatever side of the fence we’re on.

He’s probably one of the few candidates who can really bring folks together. He’s actively caring, volunteers with houseless, will be good on bike lanes and climate crisis and affordability, all, I believe. A vote for these crossover not-fully-slated candidates could really make a difference—there’s some pretty vitriolic not-kind politickin’ goin’ on, all good people but wow some real nastiness going on (because folks care and things are urgent, and bad in some areas like climate and affordability, equity) in our dear, troubled, challenged, wonderful town.

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I heartily endorse Lauren Folkerts.

Just met with Lauren at the Kitchen in downtown Boulder, on Pearl, where the main street has been closed for restaurants and pedestrians (please keep it that way). She might be the first person to bike to meet me (e-bike, from South Boulder).

She had me at her resume. But her temperament is equally strong—kind, a good listener, knows her stuff, friendly—she’ll be great for the often toxic tenor of Boulder “politics,” which have been twitterified of late. She knows her stuff, cares on the vital issues of climate crisis (not just change) and affordability, houselessness, equity. She, like Matt, and Mark, could help to bring together those who don’t care to be slated up.

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Just met with David Takahashi, one of the few candidates who hasn’t been subsumed by one slate or the other. He’s a proud “one-issue candidate”—climate crisis—but is adamant that that one issue intersects will all others of import: transport, affordability, etc. He’s sharp, strange, weird, funny, caring, compassionate, a true Boulderite.

If you view our climate crisis as “just one issue,” most of the candidates are good. if you view it was urgent, we need one candidate who views it as such, and will act and focus as if it were.

Along with Matt Benjamin, Michael Christie, Lauren Folkerts, and Mark Wallach, I’m honored to endorse David. If you don’t love the too often toxic dialogue in Boulder, and want to help ease it, voting for one candidate with the integrity to resist choosing one side is important. That’s not to say he doesn’t have strong views–in fact, his resenting choosing a team (which would have helped him win) is why he’s able to be so outspoken and bold.

I’ve tried to do the same in my endorsements—to judge character and openness, not just platform. That said, I have not met with all candidates, and there’s other good ones out there. You can read about a few of them in my writeup on Elephant, and I encourage you to, as anti-vaxxers like to put it, “do your own research.”

Keep Boulder Bolder: vote David Takahashi.
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Just met with Steve Rosenblum. While I’m not formally endorsing for now, I had a good experience talking and listening with him.

He knows his stuff, and is the right kind of candidate to push real solutions for affordability and tackle climate crisis. I grilled him on many issues and he’s not only incredibly thoughtful, knowledgeable, but sees past the slate-ified issues both sides are entrenched over to real solutions that Boulder desperately needs, from pushing for more bike lanes and electric buses independent of RTD if need be to how Boulder can get more (or less) than more luxury condos, toward the real kind of affordability we desperately, to how to fight climate change fast and hard and effectively.

Hoping to meet with Matt Benjamin [done], Lauren Folkerts [this weekend] and David Takahashi next, among others.

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Just met with Matt Benjamin. We go well back (first met him at the Planetarium), at this point, though I didn’t quite endorse him last round (too soft re climate change, I thought then, in terms of Xcel/Muni). It’s not climate change, merely, it’s the climate crisis!

We met by Albums on the Hill, at Illegal Pete’s, and ate outside. We discussed the climate crisis and some local solutions re air quality, fires, flooding, transportation, housing/affordability, and the unhoused. We discussed affordability at length.

While I don’t love some of the vitriolic voices on either side, I’ve found Matt to be kind, a good listener, knowledgeable, and, perhaps like Mark Wallach, that rare candidate who can bring down the temperature is public discourse that has often become toxicified. Is that a word?
I also know and like and trust his wife, Jess, met her many years ago when I first moved back to Boulder after growing up here. While I’d love to see him skip the factory-farmed chicken and plastic straw and lid, he’s a good man who’ll play well with others and push real solutions to our affordability and climate crises.

I’m happy to endorse Matt Benjamin for Boulder City Council.
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Just met with Tara Winer. While I’m not formally endorsing, she’s incredibly strong on one of my three main issues: healing the tenor of uncivil civic dialogue in Bouder.

Affable, business-focused (she can get things done), an amazing listener and charming and caring speaker, I was impressed. She’s the kind of first time candidate relatively new to Boulder who I’d love to endorse on her second run, but personally I would vote for her. Just would love to see more depth on issues like houselessness, climate crisis, density.

Original article follows:

I’m progressive. You’re (probably) progressive. We all want a livable town (Boulder, in my case). The local environmentalists and activists made it this amazing town. Yes, it was pricey, but folks like me (born broke) could figure it out, generally. Weirdo artists and poets and Buddhists and climbers all made Boulder their home. Yes, it needed improvement in representation and inclusion, and does all the more today. No, homelessness should not be a crime. Yes, we need real solutions.

Today, we’ve lost most of those “weirdos.” Why?

Our real estate market doubled. Doubled in median price, a few years back. That came after Big Tech and Hedge Funders decided Boulder would be a nice bubble to pay all cash for. What we created here was an inspiration around the world. Happiest, healthiest, best educated (and bonus! Worst dressed). But now, we’ve gone off the rails. So-called progressives (developers, hedge funders) and real progressives are upset (some rightly so, and genuinely so) that Boulder has become so unlivable. Like, literally. I’ve been to maybe two housewarming parties in the past 10 years–ie, no one can afford to buy here, unless they’re already rich.

But the last progressive party…party I attended, there were two billionaires in attendance. Developers around town (having bought up half the town) put the campaign signs of progressives on their office and retail lawns. Ever wonder why? Because developers, for one, are happy to use, use, use real, worthy, urgently needed goals like “density” and “affordable housing” for their own purposes–which, you know, is profit, and further inequality. We can’t build our way to affordability, if developers are steering. But we also have to build it, to bake it in.

I don’t know who I support, this Boulder City Council campaign, because I don’t know the candidates well. I am liking seeing inclusive, Spanish-English campaign signs (a first, locally, and badly overdue). I am looking for candidates who can have tough, brave conversations despite the twitterati, despite the partisanship that has drowned the kind of real discourse that leads to real solutions nationally, and now drowns us locally.

I am looking for candidates who prioritize climate crisis and affordability, both. Who prioritize Open Space and height limits and the Blue Line and other things that made this town special…and Bedrooms and real help for the houseless and urgently built affordable housing built into everything we allow to happen here, starting now.

What candidate can protect what made this town special, help us to fight our climate crisis—which hits the vulnerable first and hardest and protect ecosystems and invest in protect bike lanes and other transportation solutions…and support local businesses in a meaningful way while helping achieve real affordability and solutions for the houseless and renters, both? It’s a tough ask, but a necessary one, if this town is to save itself from itself.

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