2017 City Council election: principles – not candidates

In my role with the Boulder Chamber, I’m often asked why we don’t endorse candidates for the City Council elections. There isn’t a prohibition on the Boulder Chamber taking a stand on the candidates and in fact, prior to my time with the organization, it did make endorsements. However, for the past two election cycles, we’ve refrained from that practice. The reason is simple.

The Boulder Chamber’s vision statement is to “build community through business.” The clear object of that vision is a thriving community, which is the amalgamation of a sound economy along with all the other elements that make it a vital and attractive place to live and work, for the long-term. While we focus on our mission of maintaining a strong economy, the part of the equation that falls within our wheelhouse, we partner with others in addressing environmental quality and social/culture goals.

It’s the successful interplay of the above goals that makes or breaks our future sustainability — and we expect to work constructively with whomever the voters elect to turn the policy dials in directions that achieve our community’s desired results.

We trust that every person running for City Council steps forward with the conviction that they have the right mix of policy positions and regulations that will set the best future course for Boulder. In that context, we certainly take issue with some of the specific policies the candidates recommend. Even more important than specific policy positions, though, are the principles the Boulder Chamber feels should guide all of our city council members.

Fundamentally, we expect each elected council member will respect and give responsible attention to our core economic vitality and business support mission. Boulder’s economy is strong, at the moment, but it doesn’t happen by accident and complacency marks the road to ruin. Thus, our community demands leaders who have a vision for Boulder’s future that embraces innovative change, while respecting cherished traditions.

We’ve detailed our principles and positions on specific policy issues, juxtaposed with the policy statements of each City Council candidate, on our website – www.BoulderChamber.com. I urge you to read and consider them, but I want to elaborate on some key elements here:

Housing and Transportation: Successful cities will promote better ways for people to get where they need to be. That means more flexible transportation options and housing that puts people closer to where they work, shop and recreate.

Energy and Environment: Successful cities will pursue a variety of thoughtful strategies for expanding energy options that maximize the use of renewable sources and produce the energy it needs in a stable, reliable and efficient manner.

Taxes, Fees and Regulation: Successful cities maintain balance between the financing requirements for public services and infrastructure with the need to foster businesses that generate the revenue to meet those financial requirements.

Workforce Development: Successful cities are built on the success of their citizens. By helping workers at all levels prepare for the needs of today and tomorrow, we’ll give them the opportunity to thrive while helping our entire community to thrive, too.

Beyond these policy principles, I’ll throw in what I think is a critical aspect of leadership: the ability to listen, bring people together, and formulate constructive solutions for the good of all. The rhetoric in this election has been particularly divisive, with attempts to demonize the opposition through extreme characterizations of their policy stands. For example, no candidates are “anti-neighborhood.”

I urge you to cut through the trash-talk and, instead, take the opportunity to listen to the candidates’ views on the principles I’ve outlined above. Visit their websites and read their literature. Do they have a comprehensive vision for the future of our community, or are they focused only on one element? Do they strike a balance between embracing change and preserving cherished values? Can they bring our citizens — who thankfully have diverse views they are not afraid to share — together for constructive action?

The Boulder Chamber has a vision for this community – one that is innovative and inclusive, with respect for each other and for the environment in which we live. A place where every citizen and business has the opportunity to thrive. And, while the Boulder Chamber doesn’t endorse candidates, we endorse principles that we believe will best help Boulder achieve that balanced vision for our future. If you agree, I urge you to support the City Council candidates who stand on those principles . . . and vote!

John Tayer is president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at (303) 442-1044, ext 110 or john.tayer@boulderchamber.com.