July 31, 2023

What it’s been like preparing to run for Boulder City Council. ~ Waylon

Note: Elephant has long covered Boulder City Council elections, as well as other local issues like Muni. All candidates are invited to write or do a video any time, frequently, or just once, free, here.

I’ve received personal endorsements from three former mayors, and nearly 100 other movers-and-shakers I admire locally. I’ve lost the endorsement of a powerful group in town that I admire in many ways. I’ve met with more than 100 good humans over the past three plus months. I’m printing up delightful yard signs! I have no campaign manager. And, well…

What it’s been like running for City Council, so far.

First of all, I’m not running—yet. The campaign begins on August 8th (if you’d like to attend our group signing to start my campaign, let me know).

It’s my first time running for elected office—well since I was President or something on Student Council back in my Vidya Elementary days, in Boulder, in the…80s.

It’s my first time having the time and money, both, to be able to run. The system in Boulder is effed up, in my little opinion (and many others)—it’s basically volunteer, meaning renters and young people and anyone not-rich or retired basically can’t run unless they want to serve our City on fumes, while running a full-time job and/or supporting their family.

I started a business, here, it’s now survived and thrived through 22 years. If that stumbles, my service on Council would be imperiled. So we should just really pay folks a living wage, or something close to it, if they’re serving our City. We’re too complex and it’s too important a job to run off volunteerism, however noble that sounds.

Anyways, it’s been fun, mostly, so far. I’ve met with folks for coffee or lunch or a walk for 3 or 4 months, now. I’ve met with activists, architects, restaurant owners, teachers, environmentalists, farmers, Council members, ex-mayors and all manner of citizens who just love this community—and are in various ways dismayed by its direction and our failure to meet the challenges and opportunities of our day. But it’s not all bad—we’re still fortunate to live in this town, and our problems are workable, if we can only focus on solutions instead of personal attacks or what Jon Stewart calls conflictination. It’s easy to get caught up in “likes” and support popular issues instead of working to bring folks onto the same path forward to actually help people.

I’m running as an independent, which is much harder, but vital if I’m to actually play any role in helping to get various factions to support protected bike lanes, real help for our homeless community and public safety both, and climate crisis fire mitigation—which hits our vulnerable populations first and hardest, but hits our real estate, business community, and local shops, too.

I’ve enjoyed talking with and listening to these folks, learning as I go, reading articles texted or emailed or DMed to me. There’s so much to learn, and again if we’re going to take this service seriously it’s close to full-time. I’ve already had one moment of gross personal threat, but many in the community helped me process through that and ground my feet in our soil, again. Folks know me here and that’s largely an asset, even if that also means that people might ride their bike up to me and interrupt a conversation and try to talk (holler) for a minute straight at me and my startled friends. I can handle criticism and listen to what’s true in it, and I can connect genuinely with others who care because I care. So many folks here care, even if they disagree with or even view others as being kinda evil. On a fundamental level, beneath the waves, we’re an ocean of caring. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t toxic conversations out there that aren’t problematic.

But the upside, the happy fun stuff, is there for the manifesting, too. Manifesting not in some hippie-dippie-New-Agey sense, but manifesting the way a neighborhood creates a block party. Through work, play, conversations, intent, celebration, and coming together. We can create more joy for our children, our families, our service workers, our teachers. Boulder must not be just for the very rich—that will kill and is already killing the diversity, resiliency, and joy in our community. We have got to treat affordability, both lower and middle-income, as a crisis, just as we do our public safety/homeless and climate crisis/fire/smoke/drought situations.

Well all of this sounds a bit generalized and easy to me so let me just remind you: without voting, yard signs, donations, listening, having tough talks, showing up to meetings, writing and reading letters to the editor and subscribing to good local journalism—our community will not flourish. I’m trying to do my little humble part to serve all of us—I’m not doing this for me, good god, it’s probably one of the more difficult (there’s no resentment like the resentment of someone whose yard you’re directly effecting with your decisions, and there’s little respect for such a humble office) and less remunerative jobs in “politics,” and isn’t for the faint of heart.

Well, I’m a sensitive boy, but I’m also an inspired boy who was raised and brought up in this town and wouldn’t have succeeded in my work and life’s mission if not for this town and the people in it.

So here I am, and here we go.


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