Daily Camera (Boulder)

Boul­derites should elect their own mayor

- By Matt Ben­jamin US Elections · U.S. News · Politics · Elections · US Politics · Boulder · Colorado · Democratic Party (United States) · Partido Libertario de los Estados Unidos · Green Party of Canada · University of Colorado at Boulder · University of Colorado · Boulder County · Ron Tupa

It started with the de­sire to re­duce Boul­der’s grow­ing po­lit­i­cal po­lar­iza­tion, to cre­ate more in­clu­sion for marginal­ized peo­ple and groups who don’t par­tic­i­pate in our lo­cal gov­ern­ment, and ul­ti­mately to give more voice and more choice to vot­ers. Our Mayor-our Choice was born out of this idea to strengthen our lo­cal demo­cratic process as demo­cratic struc­tures are bear­ing their weak­nesses at all lev­els of gov­ern­ment.

Bal­lot Is­sue 2E is straight­for­ward. Do Boul­der’s vot­ers want to elect our mayor? And do vot­ers want to elect our mayor us­ing ranked choice vot­ing (in­stant runoff)?

By far, the over­whelm­ing per­cent­age of peo­ple I talked to while col­lect­ing sig­na­tures this sum­mer said “ab­so­lutely.” (Af­ter they said, “Wait, we don’t al­ready?”) By elect­ing our mayor, Boul­der vot­ers will have a say in who is lead­ing our City Coun­cil and will hold that per­son ac­count­able.

Why is Boul­der the largest city in Colorado that does not elect its mayor? Ap­point­ing the mayor is typ­i­cally some­thing only small towns do. The next largest city that does this has close to 60,000 peo­ple, about half of our pop­u­la­tion. It’s long past time Boul­der op­er­ate like the big­gest lit­tle city that we are.

Cou­pling this vote with ranked choice vot­ing al­lows us to pro­duce elec­tions with­out the pit­falls of our cur­rent election sys­tem, which is meant to keep those in power with the power. There is a rea­son that RCV is be­ing rapidly adopted all over the county.

It pro­vides vot­ers with more voice and more choice. By rank­ing your pref­er­ence of can­di­dates, the win­ner has the true ma­jor­ity of sup­port. We will no longer have to worry about like-minded can­di­dates split­ting the vote and thus hav­ing the win­ner rep­re­sent a mi­nor­ity of vot­ers.

Know­ing that there’s a higher prob­a­bil­ity of be­ing rep­re­sented prop­erly, we see that marginal­ized groups par­tic­i­pate, and their voices are heard. Cities us­ing RCV tend to see up to a 10 per­cent in­crease in voter turnout. For Boul­der, that would mean roughly 3,500 more peo­ple join­ing our po­lit­i­cal dis­course. Our so­ci­ety is bet­ter when more peo­ple are vot­ing and a greater di­ver­sity of ideas are dis­cussed.

Here is ex­actly what the Our Mayor-our Choice bal­lot mea­sure will do:

• Vot­ers will get to vote for our mayor (start­ing in 2023)

• The mayor will serve two-year terms

• No per­son can serve as mayor for more than eight years

• The role of the mayor stays the same; the of­fice­holder is a reg­u­lar vot­ing mem­ber of coun­cil

• The mayor and City Coun­cil elec­tions will be held on odd years (like they are cur­rently)

• The City Coun­cil will al­ways be a body of nine peo­ple (eight coun­cil mem­bers and one mayor)

• Vot­ers will use a form of ranked choice vot­ing called “in­stant runoff”

• The win­ning can­di­date will need to get at least 50 per­cent of the votes to win

As with most ini­tia­tives, Our Mayor-our Choice was brew­ing as the new year started. Through this process, our lo­cal election sys­tem failed to pro­vide ac­cu­rate rules for the groups that were try­ing to har­ness the will of the peo­ple and place mea­sures on the bal­lot.

We, along with the coun­cil, will ad­mit that the path to the bal­lot is not how any of us would like to see it hap­pen in the future.

But out of this messy and some­times per­ilous jour­ney, this bal­lot mea­sure has done some­thing only a few have ever done be­fore it.

We gath­ered 5,800 sig­na­tures (dur­ing a pan­demic when en­gage­ment was far lower than typ­i­cal years) and we also had the sup­port of a ma­jor­ity of the City Coun­cil. Our May­orOur Choice has also picked up a bunch of en­dorse­ments, such as the Boul­der County Demo­cratic Party, the Lib­er­tar­ian Party of Boul­der County, the Boul­der County Green Party, Bet­ter Boul­der, Open Boul­der, KC Becker, Judy Ama­bile, Ron Tupa, Cal­lie Rennison, Les­lie Smith, Linda Shoe­maker, and many more. This is an un­prece­dented amount of sup­port dur­ing un­prece­dented times.

Now is the time for Boul­der res­i­dents to com­mit to be­ing se­ri­ous about in­creas­ing voter turnout, cre­at­ing greater in­clu­sion, re­duc­ing po­lit­i­cal po­lar­iza­tion, and giv­ing vot­ers more voice. We en­cour­age you to visit our web­site ( https://www.our­may­orour­choice.org) to learn more about ranked choice vot­ing and to sup­port Boul­der be­ing a leader for election re­form in Colorado. This Novem­ber, vote “yes” on 2E.

Matt Ben­jamin is the cam­paign chair for Our Mayor-our Choice and serves on the boards of di­rec­tors for Gar­den to Ta­ble and Boul­der Open Space Con­ser­vancy. He is a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher and for­mer as­tronomer at the Univer­sity of Colorado Boul­der’s Fiske Plan­e­tar­ium.

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