October is here! As the season of mowing the lawn turns to the season of raking leaves, I thought it was time for me to send out my annual newsletter about this November’s election.
The odd-year ballots are when most school boards and municipalities across Colorado hold their elections. In addition, statewide ballot measures that interact with TABOR are allowed to be placed on an odd-year ballot, and there are two of those this year.
More on that below, but first, the key election details:
- Election Day is Tuesday, November 7th
- Ballots will be mailed out to every registered active voter starting October 16th. Ballots can be mailed back or taken to a drop box or vote center, but must be returned by 7:00pm on 11/7.
- In-person vote centers open on October 30th. If you haven’t registered online, you can register at any of these locations in your home county and cast your ballot on the same day. You can also get a replacement ballot or vote on accessible equipment in these locations.
Alright, so what’s on the ballot? Let me start with the local candidates.
Two of the five Jeffco School Board seats are up, and I’m excited to be supporting Michelle Applegate and Erin Kenworthy. These two individuals have shown their deep commitment to Jeffco kids, and they know that the best way to support our kids is by supporting our amazing Jeffco teachers. While these candidates must live in one of the five districts, both races will be voted on by the voters of the entire county.
In the City of Lakewood, I’m supporting candidates who will advocate for more affordable housing using smart growth strategies that consider the impact on our environment and climate. When run well, cities can be engines of opportunity for their residents as well as comfortable, safe, healthy, and fun places to live. That’s why I’m supporting Wendi Strom for Mayor, Glenda Sinks for Ward 1, Isabel Cruz for Ward 2, Roger Low for Ward 3, Dave Rein for Ward 4, and Jacob LaBure for Ward 5.
In the City of Edgewater, there are mayoral and city council races on the ballot. Current Mayor John Beltrone has done an excellent job, and it’s been a pleasure to work with him and some of the members of council I’ve gotten to know. That said, Mayor Beltrone isn’t running for reelection and Edgewater has only been in my district for a year, so I don’t feel equipped to weigh in on the election. But if you live in Edgewater, do some googling and answer your door when candidates come knocking to introduce themselves!
That’s it for school boards and cities that overlap with the district I represent, but if you live elsewhere, make sure to do your research and vote! These are some of the least glamorous elected positions but can be incredibly impactful on our communities.
Now what about those statewide ballot measures? Well, first, make sure to read your Blue Book. That’s where you’ll get the detailed nonpartisan analysis that will help you understand the dimensions of some very complex policies.
I’ll be voting yes on both Proposition HH and Proposition II, and I’ll tell you why.
Prop HH – Governing is a balancing act. While I’ve been a vocal advocate for TABOR reform and making the wealthy pay their fair share, there’s no denying the challenges that come with the massive increases in property values that are driving the average 40% property tax increases next year. Lower income Coloradans, seniors, and small businesses will all struggle to pay these property tax bills.
At the same time, our school districts, fire districts, and child welfare offices are struggling to hire and retain enough staff to do their jobs. That’s why fake solutions like Initiative 50 (which may appear on the 2024 ballot) don’t actually solve the problem. Capping growth at 4% may seem reasonable at first blush, but if you’ve heard what I’ve heard from our local fire chief, you’d know that this kind of cap would be a crushing blow to the local services we all depend on.
Prop HH cuts the residential property tax increase in half, saving the average Coloradan $600 per year. And it will save businesses money too. The state will backfill a large share of the local government revenue losses from the TABOR surplus, which is money already paid by taxpayers at the recently-lowered income tax rate of 4.4% that exceeds the artificial cap established by TABOR. By raising this cap 1%, we can restore lost revenues to local districts and even side aside $20M a year for rental assistance programs.
There’s a lot more to it, but the key point is that Prop HH is a thoughtful, responsible approach to reducing the increase in property tax bills that won’t undermine our schools, fire districts, or child welfare offices like Initiative 50 would. I hope you join me in voting yes.
Prop II – Remember that time Colorado voters approved new taxes on cigarettes, vapes, and other tobacco/nicotine products to fund early childhood education programs? Me too. It was called Proposition EE, and it passed with 68% support in 2020.
Since the passage of EE, this new tax ended up generating more revenue than was estimated. Great news, right? Well… kind of.
Because of a quirk of TABOR, the state can’t keep all the revenue without asking the voters if they’re sure they meant it when they voted yes on EE. If II doesn’t pass, the state will have to refund dollars to tobacco companies rather than investing them in early childhood education.
So join me in saying, “Yes, I’m sure!” and vote yes on II.
If this feels familiar, it’s because we had to do the exact same thing for marijuana taxes a few years ago when the actual tax revenue exceeded the estimates.
As you can see, this November’s election is a big deal. Email me your questions and I’ll do my best to answer.
And thanks for being a voter!
P.S. If you want to take your understanding to the next level, I always find that the Bell Policy Center has the best analysis of fiscal ballot measures. Read their analyses on Prop HH and Prop II.