And we're off! Raucous Caucus 2021 is underway.
@boulderprogress and @ucwcolorado will be bringing you two hours of conversation with 10 potential candidates for Boulder City Council. #BoulderRC
The very capable @emmaathenam, local journalist extraordinaire, will be MCing the event, and is explaining the run of show now.

Note: Panelists have (paper) prairie dogs on sticks.
Potential candidates doing 90 second introductions...

Nicole Speer, mom, scientist, manager, is saying hello by thanking activists in the community.
Mark Wallach - the only incumbent know to be running again this year - is talking about his record in a difficult year. Calls himself data-driven: "I don't do slogans, I don't do ideology." On housing, he wants to focus on large parcels rather than zoning.
Lauren Folkerts' introduction might be called 'Boulder, a love story.' She's an architect and serves on Boulder's Design Advisory Board, and volunteers as a legal observer. Wants to hold Boulder accountable to its values.
Potential candidate #4, Ed Byrne, has been here before (ran in 2015 and 2017). Has a long civic resume and feels urgent about change. We're losing our youth!
Gala Orba was on stage with us for Raucous Caucus 2019. Describes herself as a bridge builder, young, working class. She teachers yoga, and in 2020 worked on the @RmayorRchoice campaign.
Dan Williams is lawyer, recently for @BoulderBedrooms. Slogan: Boulder for all of us. Including people who aren't here yet.
RJ Boyle, a renter wants to make a place for young and working people in Boulder.
David Takahashi is a retired software engineer, talking about public participation, greenhouse gas reductions, walkable neighborhoods. Lots of Boulder buzzwords here, he's been involved in city issues for many years.
Matt Benjamin was a candidate in 2017, was a CU student 20 years ago, and stayed. He led the @RmayorRchoice campaign in 2020, and the Coalition (joint effort of @boulderprogress, @OpenBoulder, and @ABetterBoulder, and @SBCActionGroup) in 2019.
Jono Kupferberg is an entrepreneur, recently arrived from Chicago. He's got a laundry list of policies he wants to see passed. I can't keep up, we'll hope for more details later!
RJ Boyle was interrupted by a Zoom bomber earlier, getting a second chance intro now. She didn't even flinch, btw.
Question rounds! Wallach and Takahashi are up. What is one group you consider underrepresented in Boulder City Council decisions, how would you lift up their voices?
Takahashi: The next generation, the unborn. Intergenerational equity is key.

Wallach: Residents of manufactured home communities. They are vulnerable, have uncontrolled rents, can't move. Controlling pad rents are an answer.
Q #2 to Williams and Speer: Please provide an example of how you've supported or advocated for racial justice.
Williams organized his law office to support civil rights efforts, incl. working with NAACP-Boulder County. They've also organized forums on the history of racism in Boulder.
Speer also works with NAACP-Boulder County, and has organized anti-racism training for CU associates.
Q #3: As a council member, what would you do to advocate for equitable access to open space?

Kupferberg: Transportation is key. Would like to make Boulder a bike-forward city to help getting people there.
Matt Benjamin on open space access: We have a $40 million deferred maintenance backlog which gets in the way. Fees actually raise the barriers to entry. We're close to needing a reservation system, equity will be a big consideration there.
Q #4: Do you believe any of police budget should be allocated to other services?
Boyle: We're throwing money at problems.

Orba: Wants more funding for building homes for the homeless, more funding for RTD, and more $$ for bike infrastructure.
Q: Forming a library district would free up money in Boulder's annual fund. How would you propose spending this money?
Folkerts: Affordable housing is the lynchpin for so many other issues. Other priorities: infrastructure, parks.

Byrne: Talking about regional projects - sales tax, homeless services.
That's the end of round one! We move now to lightning rounds. Candidates have paddles to indicate yes and no, and some customized reactions. There are also prairie dogs in the mix! #BoulderRC
Lots of 'Heck Yeah's' supporting Black Lives Matters.

Lots for ADUs in neighborhoods too. But Wallach declines to answer this one.
Library district. Lots of yes's, with Wallach in dissent.
Collective bargaining gets unanimous support. Pineapple on pizza, not such much.
Is Boulder full? Everyone says 'Nope'.

Should Boulder have a higher minimum wage than state law? All in favor!
Should City Council members be paid a living wage? Also all in favor. Friends, that might lead to a different mix of people on this panel!
What is your superpower? These and the yes/no's are so hard to capture! For 10 seconds you'd think people could hold their signs up together!
Media rounds: @shayshinecastle is up first and has a question about the CITY BUDGET.

What's your approach to city's budget problems - give one strategy to reduce spending and one to raise revenue.
Williams and Boyle both go after policing. Boyle adds in a need to backfill transportation cuts. They're lighter on raising revenue, but Boyle talks a little about increasing local commerce.
.@djswearingen of the Daily Camera asks a question about reducing gun violence.

Takahashi: We need to regulate bullets.
Speer lives in South Boulder and is recounting Boulder's response to the King Sooper's shooting. Boulder needs to use its collective power to lobby the state - both for gun control and mental health resources.
Shannon Young of KGNU invites potential candidates who rent their homes to talk about their housing costs and those of their peers.
Boyle is the only one taking this. Pays 25% of income for rent, currently looking for housing and can't find it. People are having rentals being sold out from under them, it's a big stress.
Byrne (not a renter) jumping in to talk about occupancy limits. Boulder's biggest underutilized asset is empty bedrooms.
Orba owns a home in the county but rents in Boulder - she can't afford to own here. Many friends pay 50% of income for housing. People have to get creative to make it work.
Kupferberg also rents (I couldn't see all of the yes/no answers earlier). He supports @BoulderBedrooms and is talking about the charter height limit. ☠️
Our MC @emmaathenam gets the last media question: What would you do to change Boulder's approach to homelessness?
Matt Benjamin: Empathy is the key. And if we're really going to have a Housing First approach, we have to get rid of barriers to entry. As a scientist, data says house people first.
Folkerts: The only way to address homelessness is with homes. People need stability. Spending money on homes is more affordable *and* more humane than enforcement.
Wallach dissents: We spend more money on homelessness than other Front Range communities. It's not true that we are callously disregarding the homeless. We need to lobby for national, state, regional approaches.
Lightning round for the media now. Let's see if we can get any quality screen captures...#BoulderRC
What is your go-to media source? Folks at home?
Do you prefer Mountain, Southern, or Under the Sun? Takahashi can be found at all three! Byrne: Why choose?
All you really need to know about your future city councillor: Can you keep houseplants alive?
Shannon Young wants to know about height limits, bike ridership, and the BEST MEXICAN FOOD in Boulder city limits. This is real, folks, she just relocated from Oaxaca.
Deborah Swearingen: Is Boulder on track to address the climate crisis? I sense a generational divide here, with Wallach and Byrne says 'yes'. 😬
Shay Castle has a good one that needs explanation: Should Boulder have a head tax on employees? And she's going to take off points for people who need an explanation.
We have a few questions from the audience now - thanks to all for submitting those. #BoulderRC
Audience Q #1: What is the best way for Boulder to address the climate crisis?

Takahashi wants to get people talking - all kinds of people. Bring them in like you summon a jury!
Folkerts on climate: City's climate action plan is on track. As an green building professional she wants to talk about building codes.
Audience Q #2: How to support local businesses recovering from the pandemic?

Kupferberg really digging into this: minimum wage, living wage, basic income, grants for POC businesses - really focus on people who hurt the most.
Our co-hosts are @ucwcolorado and we've apparently got some labor folks in the audience too. The next question is about unions! Do you support workers organizing?
Orba has worked as a teacher and supports fully.

Boyle: Unionization is part of good economic health, and it's especially important after working conditions we saw in the pandemic.
Let's talk about multimodal transportation!

Byrne has worked on bike infrastructure for years, wants RTD restored, but thinks the real key is living in a smaller footprint, closer to where we work and play.
Speer echoing Byrne: Boulder is so focused on cars. How can we help people move around other ways more easily? She bikes on 30th to work and finds it terrifying.
Audience Q #4(?): What is the relationship between racial equity and housing access/affordability?
Wallach: If we want to have a representative city, we have to have access for people of all incomes. Applauds BHP for producing lots of affordable units.

M. Benjamin going for single-family zoning (I mean, going *after* it) as a problem.
Q: According to the TRENDS report, Boulder is not welcoming to immigrants. What should we do?
Matt Benjamin focuses on improving representation - change elections and get more people at the table.

Orba: We need incentives for businesses to hire POC and bring them to town.
Williams starts with a history lesson: Boulder excluded industry for years, and required large housing lots to keep 'undesirable' people out. Making Boulder welcoming now means welcoming jobs, welcoming diverse housing.

Boyle echos.
Wallach wants to lean on employers, but also improve representation/access in local government.
A similar question for our remaining 5 panelists: Is Boulder doing enough to address diversity, equity, inclusion, esp. in the racial equity plan?
Bryne: A blunt 'no'. No city is doing enough.

Folkerts: Boulder's racial equity plan is a good start, but we have to take on housing and jobs (which aren't in there) too.
Kupferberg: Likes what's in the racial equity plan for training city staff, but wants it expanded to others in the community.
Speer: Are we doing enough for racial equity? No. The fact that a group of majority white people is answer this question is indicative of the problem. We shouldn't be answering w/out POC input.
Takahashi going a different direction here, noting work of faith communities in pursuing justice - do unto others.
Closing statements? Some have them, some don't!
Matt Benjamin takes the moment to acknowledge - rather confidently - white male privilege. Promises to listen to people most affected by policy.
David Takahashi: So much in the world is unraveling right now, but it's an opportunity to decide what we want to bring forward and what to leave behind. The smartest people in the room are the public. Reconnect government to the people!
RJ Boyle: Grateful for the opportunity to speak as a young, lower-income woman. Wants to contribute to the future.
Dan Williams: Concerned that we've tried to freeze Boulder in place. "We have slowly brick by brick built a wall of limitations on all sorts of personal activity and development projects that have stifled self expression." It's time to revisit whether we want that wall.
Gala Orba: Wanted to talk more about the climate crisis. Single-use plastic bans are a personal cause. Look for her serving sushi at Japango or teaching an arial yoga class!
Ed Byrne: Boulder needs to go all in on climate. We need workforce housing, more city centers, more hope and less fear.
Lauren Folkerts: We need to use our precious resources to make people's lives better and be good stewards of Boulder.
Mark Wallach: Encourages folks to look at his record - vote for him if you like it, don't if you don't.
Wallach's advice for new candidates: Has heard a lot of generalities tonight, but the work of City Council is in specifics. Level of public discourse is dangerously low in the U.S. (and Boulder), let's try to elevate it in the campaign.
Nicole Speer: Soaring here...We have big problems in the community, but *you* inspire me to help solve them.
And that's a wrap for the evening. It was exhausting keeping up with these folks - and I'm sure they're tired too. We'll post links to recordings when available. Thanks to everyone who helped organize, and to everyone who attended!

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