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Hey, ya'll. It's been TOO long since I sat in an uncomfortable chair for hours at a time, so I thought I'd live-tweet tonight's Chamber/Human Services Alliance candidate forum. Starting in, like, 5.
My tweets will go one of two ways tonight: A total lack of energy or a channeling of all my latent rage into snark. Stay tuned.
All 15 certified candidates are here. Wow. This is a big one.
We, the press, are over in the corner. We self-ostracized.
But come say hi!
"This may be the only time we see all 15 candidates in the same room together," Chamber's Andrea Meneghel says. It's like "opening day."
With so many candidates, I've been told the format is this: questions will be asked, and then 2 candidates' names drawn. They will be given 1 min to answer. There is a "soothing chime" to cut them off.
That is correct, Meneghel confirms. "We've got 3 more mos. of hearing from all of them." Lord, give me strength.
Same rules as council: No clapping, no booing, no cheering, no hissing.
Candidates intro'ing themselves in alphabetical order. First up: Aaron Brockett. Crowd already breaking the rules by clapping.
"I'm running for re-election to continue the work I've been doing the last four years," he says: Housing affordability, social justice, cycling/pedestrian infrastructure.
"We have to make sure we stay open and inclusive. We've not going to solve our problems by saying no to everything."
This is super polished from Brockett. I don't like it as much as his usual thoughtful, quiet manner.
Now Andy Clean from Smooth Motors (which closed in 2017? Idk. I wrote a story on it.)
"The reason I'm involved in this election bc I am concerned in the direction we look like we're taking. I believe we need to be compellingly interested in this election."
"As a biz guy, I'm aware and have dealt with a lot of the issues we're dealing with:" How to keep employees, etc.

Also interested in "staying on the cutting edge of human rights."
Paul Cure up now. Makes a (lame) joke about "Eye of the Tiger" which I guess would be his intro song. 1/10 on song choice, Paul.
Why he's running: "The need to protect our open space, the need to protect our neighborhoods" and "preserve the legacy that we as Boulderites actually want."

But we need a "vibrant economy to support our workers."
Brian Dolan, formerly of Think Boulder, is next. He imports classic cars for a living, after selling his insurance business.

He wastes his precious seconds praising the community.
"We decided to live and raise our family here bc it's such a special place." It's important to "protect" that.

Fact check: He grew up here. He lives in the house that was his dad's. But I suppose he decided to stay here, so maybe that counts.
Benita Duran, up now. Worked for the city '93-'00.
Her reasons for running: Housing, social equity, transportation, environment, economic vitality.
Rachel Friend, a pro-bono attorney for asylum seekers, takes the stage.
Also wastes time thanking ppl. Get to it, Rachel!
"I have what sort of seems like a crazy notion that Boulder's best days lie ahead of us. I'm not trying to look in the rearview mirror."
Flood mitigation tops her priorities. "I want a seat at the table. I want to know we have decision makers that listen to experts, follow science and data ... and offer more than thoughts and prayers on local issues."
Junie Joseph, a CU law student, running "bc socioeconomic diversity and political inclusion matters."
Referencing her work for the U.N. USAID, volunteering at the Boulder shelter. And how long it took for her to find housing when she moved here.

First one to admit she's nervous.
Housing affordability, transportation and climate change is what she'll work on.
Carina Julca, who I don't know much about (yet), up now.
(This is streaming on FB live if you'd rather follow along that way. Or to accompany my tweets.)
Julca is a teacher and mom. And a renter! (Forgot to say Joseph is as well) In the opportunity zone! Google and 29th Street Mall "does not belong in Boulder," she says.

"Huge risk of displacement" when OZ moratorium expires.
Going way over time.
Nikki McCord up now. "I'm an independent thinker," she says, by way of introduction. She has (or had) a consulting biz, I believe.

The fourth woman of color on the stage. Go Boulder!
Making a specific promise: She will create 256 units of affordable housing per year to meet the goal.

Most applause of candidates so far.
Mark McIntyre, 42-yr resident of Boulder; 32-yr biz owner, 4 generations of family living in Boulder County "from parents to children to grandchildren"
He's "familiar with what it takes to make it in Boulder County."

Yeah, me, too: Money.
His big 3: environmental stewardship, democracy and social justice/equity.
Gala Orba, a life coach, is reading from a statement.

"I like to solve problems ... cultivate change." Has skills in "risk management" and "incredible amounts of patience."
3 promises: single-use plastics ban, getting more women and POC in biz, secure art spaces and protect arts through legislation.

"Vote for me to get ahead of the market so that we can get ahead of the growth."
Susan Peterson, a retired engineer and high-tech exec.

Starts with a (lame) joke.
"Over the last few weeks as I talked to ppl, I realized" I'm not just running out of a sense of civic duty "but of pride" in everything people "did before us." She includes Boulder's white settlers in that. Oof.
Adam Swetlik up now. He leaps up onto the stage bc he's 10,000 ft tall.
"It was a really hard experience trying to find affordable housing here in Boulder. It took 2 jobs, 10 yrs to buy a 1BR condo built in the 70s."

Housing affordability is the No. 1 issue in Boulder. He's on the HAB.
His stated path to housing (via his interview with me) are to pursue rent control, transfer tax and as close to 100% Affordable (subsidized) housing as possible.

Second priority: Community engagement.
He makes the first joke I actually smiled at.
Mark Wallach: "I'm running for council bc we have a no. of issues in this city that are extremely consequential coming to a tipping point that are going to affect our future."

Is/was a real estate developer.
"Everybody here is fairly similar in their idealogical approach," he says. He wants to achieve "more temperate discourse."

"We need to first de-toxify the conversation."
detoxify is one word, no hype. My bad.
Councilman Bob Yates (one of the few wearing a suit jacket, with Orba and Peterson) is the last candidate up.

"I'm proud of what we achieved in the last four years," including:
Creating 100s of units of affordable housing, reducing # of homeless ppl on our street, increased funding for culture and the arts, reducing the city budget (fact check: that's debatable)
It was reduced last year from the previous year, but THAT year was *way* higher. We're still at elevated levels. See the Library Champions budget presentation for more. (I'll find a link)
I think that's where I saw year-by-year comparisons.
Chip (just Chip) is asking the first 2 qs: Julca are up first.

As competition increases, how will you keep downtown vibrant?
Julca *is* (not are) also reading from a paper for her answer. Free bus to downtown; rent subsidies is what she would do.
McIntrye taking this one, too. Places that are successful are "places where we bring ppl in and we push cars out."

Suggests expanding the downtown car-free zone.
"We need to be welcoming and less restrictive" by doing better maintenance of our open space, he says.
Chip q 2: How do city policies impact employee retention?

Yates: Housing, housing, housing.
He's on the BHP board. "Not enough" how many units we've created. We need to keep doing that. Encourages ppl to vote for the middle-income housing program.

Better transit system needed, too, and free parking downtown.
Duran: Subsidized or reserved parking for downtown employees. "Creative" housing. "Opportunities we haven't fully explored throughout the city."

Also skill-building and "quality job opportunities" and investing in training.
Jeff Hirota of Community Foundation asking next qs. Disclosure: CF paid me to help with the Trends Report, which he is referencing.
Q1: How would you make housing attainable?

Brockett: We have programs helping with that (inclusionary fees, middle-income down payment assistance) But we have to allow additional housing in the "right parts of town."
Places served by bike, transit and walking infrastructure.
Celani: "I embrace existing programs." But we need to spend more on affordable housing. "New construction should be responsible."

Also "likes the idea" of the middle-income program to enable them "to buy into what we have."
"We have to respect our existing neighborhoods. It's a very fine line on that."
Q2: How would you advance racial equity in Boulder?

Joseph: I have experienced housing shortage myself. I believe it's extremely important to use all necessary tools to increase housing in Boulder. We need infill; we also need to not use so much space for housing.
Also co-ops and ADUs. Housing "plays a big rule in inclusion."
"We can't say we believe in social equity and inclusion and say we don't believe in housing."
Swetlik: I think diversity is going to come from reducing economic inequality. We have a lot of wealthy ppl, low-income ppl but "not a lot in the middle."

"There's a whole lot more we can be doing." Taking about increasing our affordable housing.
"We have to make sure we're not pushing ppl out by pushing up our Area Median Income." That is going up bc we're bringing in more and more wealthy ppl with high-paying jobs.
Q from idk who: How would you build and sustain a thriving natural environment?

Peterson: That's "one of the things we've been great at." Praising Open Space program.
"We need to continue to invest in. It's one of the primary assets of our city."
Two important aspects: Tree canopy and mountain views.
Dolan: "I don't think you build a natural environment. It was already here before we came. It's our jobs to be stewards."

Talking about open space deficit. Supports the tax; wants it extended in perpetuity.
Chamber qs: What's vital to Boulder's economic vitality? How will you maintain our economy?

Cure (with "the budget" in his hands): In Boulder, we sometimes "love the idea and hate the practice."
Talking about incentives for biz to make sure we're attracting ... the ones we want? Idk. Something about respecting biz. He's a little ramble-y, which I found in his interview. Kinda a non-answer.
Wallach: We should create small biz loans or artist loans (or maybe homes?) to preserve them in town. "What we need to keep these biz from being priced out of our community."
Chamber q2 about Variant 2 on CU South for flood mitigation: CU wants it, city wants Variant 1. What will you do?
McCord (kinda wasting some time re-stating the q and talking about her self): We move forward by choosing an option that will put health and safety above all else.
Friend (who lives downstream of the flood mitigation area). Also wasting time talking about the flood itself, etc.

Get to it ppl!
"I don't want to move the conversation forward; I want action." Talks again about facts and data and listening to the engineers.

No real answer from either of them.
Julie Van Domelen from EFAA asking a q.

Another disclosure: EFAA pays me to consult for them.
It's one of my 3 jobs.
Q: What are you concerns about the safety net in Boulder, how will you address them?

Wallach: Every society is measured by how we deal with those in need.
Supports human service organizations. Who doesn't?
Biggest issue is funding, he says. Promises to "stand very firm" on getting money to them.
Orba answers the previous q by saying she's a fan of Variant 2.
Mentions homelessness and Attention Homes' downtown housing. Still not an answer really. She's just saying "what she thinks of" when she hears this q.

We don't want thoughts. We want answers.
Q2: City puts $2.5M to human services currently. How do you see that changing given funding needs?

Yates: We should double it.
In 2015, our funding for human services "was abysmal."
"We didn't want to throw $$ on the problem, we wanted to know if it was" achieving what we wanted. The focus in on "upstream" like rental assistance to avoid families becoming homeless, for instance.
Cure: Our farm donates food to community food share. "Money is one aspect of it, but I think participation."

Talking about the need for guardian ad litem, outreach programs, etc.
Final human services q: How do you plan to ensure representation of vulnerable voices in decision making?

Julca (still reading from a paper; the candidates got the questions ahead of time): I will stand up for residents and small biz in the opportunity zone... ?
OK, this is more germane: Increasing inclusionary housing (but still mentioning opportunity zone, for some reason)
Celani: "We need greater collaboration on all levels of our socioeconomics."

Not really an answer. Damn, these candidates need to step it up tonight.
Chamber q: Tourist revenue pay for city services. How do you respond to criticism of tourism and biz?

McIntyre: "It's offensive" to tell workers that Boulderites don't want to "wait in line" bc of high number of visitors
"Boulderites love to travel." We need to enhance the things we love about where we travel, here at home.
Peterson starting with an anecdote about ppl visiting Boulder bc it's on "bucket lists."

"Tourism is a very important part of our economy" but concerned about impact to open space and mountain parks.
"Regional tourists" should help with maintenance of open space.
Chamber q: What is the first thing you would to for small biz affordability?

Friend: "Small biz need a healthy economy to allow them to succeed." Talking about her new fave Mexican restaurant and how long it took to get thru city process.
They have to apply for a second liquor license after being robbed, Friend says. "We need to eliminate red tape, make it especially easy for small biz."
Brockett also loves that restaurant.
"What we hear over and over again is how difficult it is to work with the city. I'd like us to make it a bit easier" maybe with an ombudsman position to help navigate.

Small biz also need to have places to locate.
And an affordable commercial program for rents in the city.
Chamber q: How would you have voted on raising the affordable housing linkage fee from $12 to $30?
Joseph: "I don't believe in the linkage fee."

"I think we have to look at different avenues so we can fund housing. Part of the linkage fee is funding affordable housing. If you raise it... developers have to charge renters or homeowners more."
"It's not about increasing linkage fee; it's about finding other avenues to fund affordable housing."
McCord not going to answer the q, specifically. "I'm not going to look back."

"You can't have just one revenue stream." Brings up "diversification of revenue streams." Doesn't say what they would be.
Q from Sue Prant, Community Cycles: Would you reduce traffic speeds from 25mph to 20mph? (CC is going to ask council to do it.)
Dolan: I'm "generally supportive" but it "depends what you mean by residential streets."

Someone behind me says: "There's a definition!"
He would keep it at 25 for some arterials, Dolan says. But also do raised bike lanes and sidewalks. And mentions the plungers on 30th Street! "That's exactly what I'd do."
Swetlik: This is a great idea to put on a ballot for the ppl to decide. He would do that if he was on CC. "Ppl aren't going to ride bikes, walk if they don't feel safe doing so."
Sue q 2: What transportation solutions would you suggest to ease congestion from SOV in-commuters? And how would you fund it?
Duran: Combo of regional transit, micro transit, etc. "It's complicated, it's expensive. We've been tortured in the relationship we find ourselves in with RTD."
Look at solutions "that takes care of our own." Maybe create our own regional transportation district (that has been floated in the city for awhile)
Wallach: Largest component is jobs:housing imbalance. Until we "make a dent in it" with more affordable housing, we'll still have lots of in-commuters.

Would like to see "smaller, more frequent buses" and vans.
Invest in more covered bus stops, he says. Funding: "Many ways we can get at that; I'm not ready to opine on any of them at the moment."
Urban Land Institute q (a good one) about the SWEEP report on density and environmental benefits.

Celani says density does not increase efficiency. We need to respect neighborhoods.
Orba: I'm not a huge fan of high density. I think we can do more in the solar market and renewable market.

She's also reading from her notes.
She is a "big proponent" of the muni. (Not reading from notes anymore) References her single-use plastics ban again.
ULI q 2: Should Boulder attempt to reduce in-commuting with more housing for ppl who work here?

McIntyre: Yes, absolutely. We can use gentle infill and make our neighborhoods even more beautiful.
"Ppl will say, yeah, but you're not going to fix the in-commuting problem" with ADUs, max density at Alpine-Balsam. But we need bus rapid transit on major corridors.
Peterson: "I love that phrase, gentle infill. I haven't heard that one before."
She ran for council in 2007. (I didn't know that; interviewing her tomorrow.)

Says she's looking at the "data" that we've built over 700 units a year in Boulder, more than 2X the average before that, but prices going up.
How will you use housing/transportation/land use policies to address in-commuting? (I think was the q)

Brockett: Those all go together.
Build transportation along corridors where services are, and put housing close to them, is his answer. Places like Boulder Junction create "synergy" where ppl can meet needs without a car.
Julca (not reading from her notes): These issues are linked together. A lot of ppl who work here in Boulder prefer to live out bc there's bigger houses in Longmont, Westminster.
Preserve middle-income housing we have, get more efficient bus routes. Work with regional partners.
These qs are from the Boulder Area Realtors Association: How will you promote civil discourse on issues of growth and development?
Yates: "Welcome to my Tuesdays." Talks about being in the minority on council, and how he has worked with every other member on different issues. "We do talk, we do collaborate, we do listen to each other on Tuesday nights."
"You'd be surprised how many unanimous decisions come out on Tuesday nights."

"Collegiality and camaraderie are very important."
Friend referencing past work as a guardian ad litem. This is similar work: "We all think we know what's best, but we have to focus on the greater good" in Boulder.
Talks about group homes and her work with ppl with disabilities, trying to get communities to accept those facilities. "We were awesome neighbors."

"While we do need consensus, we can't languish looking for it. We need to get things done."
Van Domelen is back up for the Human Services Alliance, on homelessness: What are your priorities?
Cure talking about his work at City Club (he's a receptionist there) and inviting a homeless man speak there. The man said Boulder is such a bureaucracy; he felt he was better on his own.
"There is no easy answer.. but there has to be more outreach, listening and less telling them what to do."
Swetlik: "There's an insane lack of funding for homeless people." References his work as a bouncer for the Walrus and the homelessness he saw downtown. "We're not providing basic services around town": bathrooms, lockers, showers.
"We're shoving homelessness under the rug."
We shouldn't shut down homeless camps; "they don't have a place to go. Until we provide that for them, who are we as ppl, really?"
Would you support a Boulder minimum wage higher than the state's?

McCord (who works with the Human Services Alliance): I do support a higher min wage
Calls out EFAA (who she worked for) as paying $15/hr min wage to employees.

I don't fully understand her answer, but I think it's a really good one. (Sorry, I know that's frustrating)
Dolan: Fully supports living wage. Boulder should pursue max increase to that.
Hirota back up again (Comm Found): How would you improve access to mental health care?

Joseph, restating her volunteerism at Boulder Shelter. "Mental health is extremely important."
Ppl with mental health issues should be "processed properly" and city should work with agencies... ? A little non-specific.

Celani: We're doing pretty well overall. We need to collaborate with the county. (Also non-specific)
How would you support artists and promote equity in programs?
Friend referencing data about arts' impact on our life, and what a good ROI we get from investing in them. Would support through grants, funding, incentives, promotion, affordable arts spaces.

"This ripples through every q, but we need affordable housing for artists."
Yates (who has done a lot on arts and culture): In 2015, our funding was near 0 for arts/culture. Now it's at $1M.
Talking about his separation of grants for big facilities (Dairy Center, etc.) and small artists or organizations.
I'm sorry I can't provide more context; they are moving so fast here. For more details, see my published work.
Chamber q: What are the first responsibilities of city gov't? How will you fund them?
Brockett directs us to look at the sunset. It's nice.

"Health and safety and protection of the public." Police, fire.
Talking about bringing more ambulance services into the city, CU South flood protection. And giving a "good chunk" of our budget to human services.

All things he referenced in his interview with me.
Julca: Safety, basic services like water, traffic management, parks and recreation, support of local biz, open space. (She's reading from her notes for those.)

"I can't say one service is more important than another." (not reading notes for that)
Something about federal funds.
Chamber/Community Foundation q: How would you ensure everyone is counted in 2020 Census?

Dolan (also reading from his notes) speaking against the citizenship q suggested by Trump. "People are people; all ppl should be counted." Doesn't say how.
McCord (not reading from notes), going into specifics on city efforts to count everyone, in collaboration with other groups. It's important to get a good count so we get the federal and state $$ we need.
Wants to make sure POC have access to census jobs so they can go into their own communities and explain how important the Census is, how to fill it out, etc.

Good answer.
omg are you exhausted yet? I am.
ULI again: Some say key sites in Boulder are underused and beg for redevelopment. Would you move forward on: Diagonal Plaza or East Arapahoe, and how?
Cure talking about his work with the Conference on World Affairs and the ppl brought in to talk about redevelopment.

"We do have 15 property owners at Diagonal Plaza, so it's not a silver bullet." We have to convince them all to get on board.
Diagonal Plaza is "crucial." Says we should "move development" from Alpine-Balsam over to Diagonal.

Not sure how, though, he says.
Maybe a ballot measure?
McIntyre: "I want to end the ballot of trying to save parking lots. They don't need saving. They need conversion therapy: they need to be converted into homes. Homes for ppl."
"We need to present a vision" for what those places could be, different from worrying about cars and parking. "What about shared gardens, shared yards, shared resources and a sense of community?"
ULI with a "$41M question" about Alpine-Balsam. Should this project be accelerated, how should it be developed? What excites you most about it?

Wallach: I think it's a great site; supported acquiring. But a lot of difficulties with cost.
"We miss an opportunity" if we don't repurpose hospital.

City staff determined that was more expensive than demolition and rebuilding.
Wallach also concerned with density "inconsistent with surrounding neighborhood."

"I do support moving forward" but not with what we have today.
Duran "celebrates" the acquisition of the property. "It's unfortunate it's taken 4 yrs to get to this place. We've made it more complicated now."
This site could "help address sustainability." It belongs to the whole city; it needs to be a broader conversation.
3 qs left. Woot!
Q from downtown Chip: What specific investments would you support to grow and sustain retail biz?

Swetlik talking about his work for a honey co.
"Local biz is what ppl come to Boulder for."

We need a task force(!) specific for small biz.
"We need to shift our focus away from" attracting "really really big co." and focus on "sustaining our small biz."

"Clearly we're not doing enough" given all the closures, relocations.
Chip q: What will you lead council to do in your first year?

Orba: Let's raise the minimum wage. Let's help ppl afford to live here.
Other things she wants to do, but those are state-level.
Do you support muni? What limits on $$ and time are you prepared to achieve it? If not, how will you reach climate goals?
Peterson taking this. "Do at all costs."
Final thoughts from candidates: Legacy you want to leave.
Brockett: Library funding, bus rapid transit to Longmont, east BoCo, good affordable housing, including for homeless.

"I want to make sure we use a racial and social justice equity lens" to make city decisions.
Celani: Transportation access into the city, "collaborate with RTD, other cities."

And "neighborhood input is very, very important to Alpine-Balsam." It's a "clear disconnect."
Cure: "Main thing I'm trying to run on is the sense of common ground."
Suggests a "culture pass" that you can buy to fund "affordable housing, equity, empowerment issues"
Dolan: Develop a sounder method of community engagement, specifically statistically valid surveys.

(Reading from his notes)
Duran: "I'm all about community. I want everyone to feel like they have their place at the table and that they're involved in community. A legacy I'd want ... is to open the doors in Boulder to all ppl."
Also consulting her notes.
Friend: "Since I believe Boulder's best days lie ahead, I think my legacy would be a better Boulder."

Also "saving the lives of my loved ones and neighbors" by pushing forward on CU South. It's all the issues: Housing, transportation, safety, etc.
"I'm happily your flood mitigation candidate. If my legacy was saving lives, I could not be prouder."
Joseph referencing homelessness in Goss Grove and the flood issues in Frasier Meadows, Orchard Grove mobile home park and affordability issues.
"I am about socioeconomic diversity. That will be my legacy."
Julca: Everybody running has same goal "to preserve our city the best it can be."

Talks about demolition of buildings "we can probably save, we can probably still use."
McCord: "I'm not looking toward a legacy. I'm focused on the here and now."

Says she's not seeking endorsements from any groups bc they are "polarizing our community."
Restates her goals to create 256 units of affordable housing each year until 2035.
Going over time "My focus is on you; you are more priority."
That was a general "you"
McIntyre: My campaign slogan is Look Forward Boulder.

Wants to focus on "achieving our goals" on transportation, housing, climate. "Our expenditures and actions don't really match those goals."
"We figure out what we can say yes to and end governing through fear and moratoria."
Orba is sitting down on the front of the stage. "I'd like to see us get ahead of the growth." Rent control, mandatory housing of CU sophomores on campus.

She's reading from notes, too.
"I'm a grassroots kind of gal. I'll leave a legacy of decisiveness, and I'd like to show the whole state my (policy) of (curbing) growth."
Peterson talking about how long she's been sitting here. Honey, you ain't seen nothing yet.
She'd like to leave a community of environmental protection. "Clean, green electric grid and substantial open space left for Mother Nature to do her thing."

"I do not believe there is a direct relationship between density and reducing carbon footprint."
Swetlik has a "few dif legacies" he wants to leave: reducing inequality. "We don't wan't anyone else pushed out."

Also reducing divisiveness by having more neighborhood involvement in projects.
Says he's one of the most experienced candidates "in history."

Bro, I love you, but nah.
Wallach would like his legacy "to be one of achievement." Creating more affordable housing in more innovative ways; completion of Alpine-Balsam; concluding CU South in a way fair to the city; defender of open space.
Yates: "I'm not looking for a legacy."

He's going to ask a previous q: Does dense make sense? IT'S A FUCKING POEM!
Dense makes sense but we must avoid offense; we must apply common sense. EVEN A REFERENCE TO MIKE PENCE!
This either deserves a standing ovation or tomatoes thrown at him.
Tayer taking us home, but there's no way he can top Yates' poem.
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