From major bond issues and environmental initiatives, to key school board races and efforts to support affordable housing in ski towns, here are the ballot questions and elections we’re watching as Coloradans head to the polls Tuesday.
Denver’s $937 Million, 7-Question Bond Issue
The city is looking to swipe its credit card for just about everything. With more than 400 projects on the list, the biggest single item is deferred maintenance. Transportation is another big splash, with the proposed bus rapid transit on Colfax as a prime example. Anyone who drives on Denver streets will appreciate that the city wants to dump more than $937 million into all kinds of transportation projects, including just simply repaving streets.
Denver' Green Roof Initiative
Initiative 300 would mean new buildings larger than 25,000 square feet must dedicate some of their roof space to trees, plants, solar panels or a mix. The bigger the building, the more covering required. Existing buildings aren't covered under this rule unless they expand to above 25,000 square feet, or if they need a new roof. Supporters say green roofs combat rising temperatures in the city, among other benefits. Critics don't disagree, but say a mandate is the wrong choice.
Aurora, Denver School Board Races
In Aurora, a charter school is being phased in to replace a low-performing district-run school, and four more charters are on the way. Many of the school board candidates on the ballot are running in direct response to this shift toward charters. Four union-backed candidates are calling for a halt to charter expansion. In Denver, four out of seven seats are contested, pitting incumbents who want to uphold the district’s charter and school choice policies against candidates largely backed by teachers' unions who want to shore up the district’s traditional schools.
Aurora City Council
There are five open seats and two are held by incumbents being challenged by outsiders. Though the races are nonpartisan, the current Aurora City Council runs more conservative on policies than the rest of the city. Community advocates and the editorial board of the local newspaper has been critical of the current council for not embracing more policies to help poor people and immigrants, including a resolution to support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Grand Junction Bond, Property Tax Hike For Schools
Voters in this Western Slope town will decide in November whether to approve a bond measure and a $6.5 million mill levy override to increase funding for the 22,000-student school district.
If passed, it will be the first financial boost for the public schools here since 2004. The proposed money will pay for additional student days per year, a new middle school, new HVAC systems and new textbooks. The textbooks are so dated they say that Bill Clinton is president.
Douglas County School Board
The Douglas County school board race is once again in the national spotlight because of the case involving the constitutionality of private school vouchers that was recently sent back to Colorado by the U.S. Supreme Court. The outcome may depend on the school board race. There are eight candidates running for four open seats. If one seat swings, the voucher program could die.
Broomfield Oil And Gas Regulations Ballot Measure
In October, Broomfield City Council approved a controversial new drilling plan inside city and county limits. Depending on whom you talked to, the Broomfield plan was seen as a gold standard or a misguided plan in need of revisions. The city and county negotiated a long list of items with Extraction Oil & Gas that go beyond what the state requires: In the background is Ballot Question 301, which seeks to put health and safety limits on drilling.
Fort Collins High Speed Internet
Fort Collins voters will decide Nov. 7 whether to approve a $150 million bond issue so the city can build out high-speed internet. It's just the biggest in a series of broadband proposals facing residents of cities and counties across the state. Under the proposal, Fort Collins officials could decide to create and operate a telecommunications utility, partner with a private company or stay out of the business altogether.
Crested Butte Tax On Vacation Rentals
Ski towns are struggling with affordable housing for employees. Some blame the booming popularity of short-term vacation rentals for pricing locals out of the market. The city of Crested Butte wants a tax on vacation rentals to pay for affordable housing programs. The Crested Butte News says a yes vote would mean an additional 5 percent sales tax on those rentals, worth about $300,000 annually.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story mistated the amount that Denver was seeking in its bond package. The correct number is $937 million.