I love the fall season, with the changing leaves, the change in weather and the chance to consider a change in the direction of our elected leadership. Putting the seasonal forestry and temperature conditions aside, it’s time to focus on the race for the City Council and, for the first time, our mayor. It’s called democracy, and the Boulder Chamber encourages your participation . . . and I hope this column helps you in fulfilling that civic duty.
To assist business owners, employees and residents in making informed voting decisions, we provide a number of election resources at the following web site: https://boulderchamber.com/advocacy/election-resources. There you’ll find the written responses of each mayor and city candidate to questions covering a range of policy issues, with a focus on business and economic concerns, and a link to the video recording of our candidate forum. We’re also soon producing a ballot scorecard, highlighting the positions of each candidate on policy issues the Boulder Chamber has addressed on behalf of business community interests.
To be clear, the Boulder Chamber does not endorse candidates. We’ve learned that our elected leaders are a more receptive audience when they recognize we go hard on policy, not the politics. That said, we are outspoken regarding the policy issues at stake in each election and on which side each candidate falls. To that end, the following are four key business community interests at stake in this year’s City Council and mayor election and what we’ll be looking for in each candidate:
Homelessness Response: Homelessness, and the impacts on our businesses and residents, is the pivotal issue for many in this election. The concerns include criminal behavior and public safety threats associated with homeless encampments, let alone the risks they pose to the welfare of those in our community who find themselves in an unhoused condition. The Boulder Chamber seeks candidates who appreciate the full complexity of the homelessness challenge and the need for a multi-pronged policy and programmatic approach. This means fully enforcing our anti-camping laws. It also requires effective investment in housing with a continuum of long-term support including, mental health and addiction recovery services, as well as creative sheltering options providing a safe alternative to the streets. What candidates will best meet this test?
Law Enforcement: Tangentially related to some of the criminal behavior among our unhoused population, but in response to generally elevated threats to our businesses and personal safety, law enforcement has become a top concern for our business leaders. There is no accepting repeated break-ins, direct intimidation of front line staff and other forms of larceny or unlawful business disruption. The recently adopted Reimagine Policing Plan is a progressive strategy for fighting crime that includes the proactive deployment of both law enforcement and other alternative community resources. It also includes guidance on the need to budget for increased police staffing. The Boulder Chamber was a strong advocate for the Reimagine Policing Plan and we seek elected leaders who will give it their full support. What candidates will meet this test?
Workforce Housing: The number one barrier to workforce recruitment for Boulder businesses is our community’s high housing costs. Last year, the governor proposed legislation that would reduce local government barriers to housing. The Boulder Chamber, along with our City Council, supported this measure as a means of engaging all communities in the effort to expand access to workforce housing, especially along our transit corridors. We need elected officials who will keep us a leader in policies that support increased housing development in Boulder and throughout the state. What candidates will meet this test?
Business and Economic Support: All that we love about Boulder is built on the foundation of a strong local economy. That is why we always ask city council (and now, mayoral) candidates if they support our continued economic vitality, even if it entails the potential for job growth. This includes advancing policies, such as more efficient development review and permitting processes and a minimum wage scale that is sensitive to cost impacts, which can mean the difference to business success or failure, literally. The Boulder Chamber urges our elected leaders to address the needs of our local business and economy in all their policy actions. What candidates will meet this test?
There you have the top issues the Boulder Chamber will be following in the race for City Council and mayor. Regardless of your topic of concern . . . I ask you to test your candidates 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.