03 August 2007

Bland Election Ahead In Denver In 2007

The year 2007 is an odd numbered year and an election will be held in Colorado on November 6, 2007, although it is likely to be completely or principally conducted by mail this year. Denver's ballot will be entirely by mail, for example.

No county, state or federal races or issues

There will be no elections for federal office, no elections for statewide office, no elections to the state general assembly, no elections for district attorneys, no metropolitian Denver regional transporation district elections, no judicial retention elections and no elections for county office in statutory counties.

While there could be certain kinds of statewide ballot issues on the November 2007 ballot (those pertaining to TABOR limits only), there won't be any this year. I'm not aware of any referenda placed on the ballot by the state legislature for this year, and while it won't be official until August 6, 2007, no one is circulating petitions to put a state level citizen initiative on the November 2007 ballot to the best of my knowledge.

Denver candidate elections in 2007 were held in the spring, and have been completed, barring a vacancy created in any position in the near future. Vacancies elections could be held in November if any Denver vacancies were announced in the near future.

Denver School Board

This leaves Denver voters only one set of candidates to consider -- candidates for the Denver School Board. The Denver Board of Education has seven members, two "at large" and five from school board districts. School board elections are staggered, so only three of those seven seats will be at stake in this November's election.

One is the "at large" seat currently held by school board President Theresa K. Peña. While she has served on the school board for more than four years, I believe (without having consulted the relevant laws), that the fact that she went from a board district seat to an at large seat reset the term limit clock for her, so she is probably able to run again. And, most incumbents able to do so, in fact, do run.

The second is the seat currently held by school board Vice President Bruce L. Hoyt, who represents District 1 in Southeast Denver, he is finishing his first term of office so he is not subject to term limits.I suspect he will run again and win with the advantage that incumbents usually have in these races, mostly for the very reasonable reason that the voters in that jurisdiction liked the incumbent last time and usually haven't changed much in the past four years.

The third is the seat currently held by school board member Rev. Lucia Guzman, who represents District 5 in Northwest Denver, she cannot run again due to term limits, since she has served two terms on the board (although she could run for the "at large" seat if my interpretation is correct).

School board elections are non-partisan, so there are no primaries in school district races, and customarily, Denver political parties don't take any position on non-partisan school board candidates, although it wouldn't be unprecedented for a political party to take a position on a ballot issue proposed by the school board.

I live in District 1, so that means that I will have zero, one, or two races to consider in the fall, depending upon whether the incumbents run again, and whether any challengers step up to the plate. Quite frankly, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see both the "at large" seat and District 1 go uncontested, but in a city as big as this one, with roughly 110,000 people per school board district, and an election held only once every four years in a school district facing a variety of hard choices, it wouldn't be that surprising to see a challenger emerge either.

The deadline to declare that you are a school board candidate in one of these races is August 31, 2007, so we'll know who is running in four weeks.

Denver Ballot Issues

It looks like we will probably get a quite few local ballot issues in November in Denver.

One City and County of Denver issue concerning making marijuana enforcement a low priority is notable, and is probably going to be the only citizen initiative on the ballot this fall.

Denver voters may also have to consider some complicated fiscal issues:

Denver's planned $550 million bond package and a $27 million tax increase for infrastructure will have to be divided into eight questions on the November ballot, raising concern among City Council members that the projects will be pitted against one another. That scenario already had one council member referring to a grouping for cultural projects as expendable "icing" when the plan was presented to City Council Wednesday. The eight separate questions are required by Colorado case law. On top of that, the city's bonding capacity will further complicate the questions. If any of the bond groupings that cost $70 million or more were to fail at the polls, the city's property-tax rate would remain the same as it is now. If all pass, the tax rate will rise to pay for the cost of the bonds. Regardless, if voters approve the one question increasing the tax rate to pay for maintenance of all the proposed new projects, the city's rate will rise.

There may also be some charter amendment issues originating with city council, most of which will probably be sleepers.

Other Local Ballot Issues

The school board might have a bond or tax issue on the ballot this time around. It also isn't out of the realm of possibility that some special district, say Denver Water or the stadium board, could put a funding issue on the November ballot. I haven't heard about any fiscal matters other than Denver's this time around, however.


The final list of the ballot issues we'll face in November should be in place in the next few days, if it isn't already. The ballot must be finalized by September 7, 2007, and ballots start to go out to certain voters three days later. Blue books explaining ballot issues must be mailed by October 5, 2007.

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