If you’re looking for information on 2E, 2F, or 301/302, we gave them each their own writeup in this issue. Those may be the measures getting the most attention, but we wanted to help summarize and explain the other ballot measures you may be wondering about as well.
Referred By City Council:
2A – 2D
2A – 2D are four bond initiatives covering projects ranging from Globeville library branch construction to renovating the Sloan’s Lake Boat House — $450,030,000 for the entire package. The bond was referred to the ballot by the city council. Council split the 2E stock show bond off separately, and each measure can be voted on independently. Proponents argue it will create 7,000 jobs and have a $1 billion economic impact for the city. While there is no organized opposition, some opponents have criticized that not enough spending is going to address the city’s housing crisis or other priorities. To help you make your decision, we’re printing the full list of projects with this story.
Referred to the ballot by a unanimous vote of council, there is no organized campaign in favor or in opposition to 2G. This measure would give the city’s volunteer Citizen Oversight Board the ability to appoint the head of the Office of the Independent Monitor. That office oversees the police, fire, and sheriff’s departments. Currently the Mayor appoints the position. Arguably, a yes vote is a vote in favor of a slight decentralization of power, while a no vote keeps more power with the mayor’s office.
Also referred to the ballot by city council, 2H changes the election day for municipal elections. Currently, the city is out of compliance with federal election laws, mostly because military and other overseas ballots may not arrive in time during Denver’s quick runoffs. Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez and his office sent city council two recommendations: either change the election day or implement rank choice voting (also known as instant runoff voting). Either would bring the city into compliance. Council opted to send one question to voters: moving the general election day from May to April, which adds a month to the runoff, giving ballots more time to arrive.
There are no organized campaigns in support or opposition. Supporters argue this is the simplest fix to Denver’s election problems, preserving the system voters already know. Rank Choice Voting and other alternative voting system advocates argue council should have debated both options and possibly forwarded both for voters to choose between, as an alternative voting system could save the city around $1 million every election and eliminate lengthy, often negative, runoff elections.
The Pandemic Research Fund would raise sales tax on marijuana purchases from 5.5% to 7%. Funds would be directed for pandemic research conducted by the University of Colorado Denver’s CityCenter.
They argue the funds are needed to better prepare against future pandemics like COVID, specifically to reduce the impact on businesses, schools, and the general population.
There is no organized opposition, but several reports have criticized that the measure is funded by an out of state organization that does not have to report its donors. These so-called “dark money” groups collect funds from unknown sources and then make large contributions to campaigns so only the organization name appears. The campaign in favor is funded by a Delaware-based group called “Guarding Against Pandemics,” which has given over $500,000 directly and through in-kind contributions.
“Let’s Do Better” requires stricter enforcement of Denver’s camping ban while allowing Denver to establish up to four authorized camping locations. If 303 passes, the city would be required to remove camps within 3 days. If they fail to, citizens can sue the city. The four sanctioned camps would have to include running water, restrooms, and lighting. The city is under federal court orders to provide at least 7 days notice before removing large encampments, which means the issue could end up in the courts if passed.
The campaign is headed up by Garrett Flicker, chair of the Denver Republican Party. 303 is funded by “Defend Colorado.” Defend Colorado, like the organization explained in the 300 write up above, does not disclose its donors and the initiative has been criticized as only having one untraceable source. Defend CO is also funding the campaign in support of 2F (see page X for more information on 2F) and 304, which is explained below.
A campaign in opposition called “Let’s Do Our Best” was created shortly before ballots were mailed, formed by individuals involved with several nonprofits focused on advocacy. City officials have almost unanimously come out in opposition including council passing a resolution in opposition.
Sponsored by the “Enough Taxes Already” campaign, 304 would reduce Denver’s aggregate sales tax from 4.81% to 4.5%, meaning some taxes may have to be reduced if others are increased, keeping the total rate at 4.5%. If 304 passes, the expected reduction in the city’s 2022 budget would be between $50 million and $80 million.
The initiative was also created by Garrett Flicker, chair of the Denver Republican Party. Like 303 and 2F, it’s also funded by Defend Colorado, a nonprofit organization that does not release information on it’s donors. Mr. Flicker did not respond to an inquiry for more information and no website or other public information could be found.
City officials also strongly came out in opposition, noting the conflicts of different sales tax measures and problems in funding city services. Council also passed a resolution in opposition.
According to Mayor Hancock,
“If passed, 304 would immediately result in the need to cut up to $80 million from the budget – $80 million – including potential cuts to the city’s dedicated sales tax initiatives. It will mean fewer police officers and firefighters keeping neighborhoods safe, less maintenance on our roads and in our parks, less affordable housing and services for unhoused residents, and less support for businesses and workers trying to get back on their feet after this pandemic. It would gravely put our recovery at risk.”