How Did I Do? -- Election 2009
I didn't do so great on the county issues. Issue 1A, the extension of the Open Space tax, failed by about 4 percentage points. It looks to me that this was partly because of the economy, partly because the County Commissioners did not do a good job of explaining why it needed to be renewed 10 years in advance of when the tax expires, and partly out of backlash against current open space policy.
However, if you look at that backlash, it seemed to come from both sides -- for example, one person commented that he voted against the tax because he wasn't allowed to mountain bike on county open space, while another said he voted against it because of too many bikes on open space. This sounds like a can't win situation. That's especially true since most of the folks who complained about the open space department seemed to be confusing the city's open space rules with the county's -- the contentious mountain bike rules actually are on city property. So, bottom line, lack of a good sales pitch by the county, coupled with ignorant voters who had to lash out against something.
The real puzzler was County Issue 1B, the extension of the ClimateSmart loan program, which lost by two percentage points. This program is already in place and has been enormously successful. It helps locals fund improvements that cut CO2 emissions. It adds to local jobs. And the best thing is that it doesn't cost anybody a nickle except the people who take out the loans.
It looks like 1B was caught in the backfire against 1A, as there was no organized opposition. Again, opponents seemed to not understand it, thinking it was a tax increase, and the county did not do much PR in advance of the election.
Both of these issues will undoubtedly be on the 2010 ballot, and the county will undoubtedly do a much batter sales job then.
Still undecided is Question 1D, the extension of term limits for DA from two to three terms. Latest results show that ahead by just 41 votes, too close to call with the last of the ballots still to be counted.
And that leaves me with the city council race. My endorsed candidate, Barry Siff, came in sixth in a race in which the top five get seats. He missed it by just 672 votes (not all votes have been counted, but there are not enough ballots outstanding to change the results).
Why did Barry lose? (Ok, best of the rest.)
As I see it, the biggest issue was the media and others who lumped the candidates together into so called "power blocks". There was the pro-environment slate, those endorsed by the Sierra Club and PLAN Boulder County, and there was the so-called pro-business slate. With his credentials, Barry could have been on either list. But because he has been a businessman, he was lumped in with the second group.
In Boulder, not being endorsed by the Sierra Club and being labelled pro-business are the kiss of death at the ballot box for many. Undoubtedly, he gained some votes by association with the business crowd. But he did not stand out from that group, and I think it was a net loss for him.
It would have been a better strategy, I think, for Barry to have tried to straddle both groups. He could have been the environmental candidate who actually knows how to pay for it, for example.
In any case, the fundamental makeup of council didn't change much, in spite of the loud voices of the mostly anonymous single-issue attackers.
So, Barry, have a well deserved vacation and when you come back think about whether there is some other way to contribute to this community and maybe get to be better known for the next election cycle (if you're still up for it).