Tag: election

Oct 3 2017

My Boulder City Council Endorsements

Amy and I have always believed in this value and importance of voting. If there was any doubt about how this can impact our society, that doubt was obliterated in the 2016 election.

Boulder has an odd-year election cycle so our local elections are happening between October 16, 2017 (ballots get mailed) and November 7, 2017 (the last day to vote). Historically, less than half of the registered voters in town have voted in our local elections. A group of us, led by Engage Boulder hope that meaningfully increases (both the registered voters and the ones who choose to vote) this year.

Having lived and worked here for almost 22 years (longer than I’ve lived anywhere else by a wide margin), I now feel like I understand the strengths and weaknesses of Boulder. I get the difference of opinions about the long-term view of the city. I think we are living in an amazing place, but we have a lot of work to do to both keep it amazing and have it continue to evolve in a healthy, productive, and successful way.

As a result, I believe that our city council election is critically important. In the past, I’ve voted but I have not been public about my endorsements, nor have I put much energy into helping the candidates I endorse get elected. This election feels different for me, partly because I’m now thinking a lot about the long-term health of Boulder, but also because I feel like the low voter turnout in past elections shows that the broader population is not necessarily being represented.

I’ve decided to endorse Jan BurtonEric BuddJill GranoMark McIntyre, and Bill Rigler.

These are the same endorsements being made by Open BoulderBetter Boulder, and Engage Boulder, three organizations that I support along with a number of other community leaders.

We have chosen to endorse these five candidates because of their commitments to bring visionary and practical strategies to:

  • Create more housing and transportation for all Boulder residents;
  • Make our streets and paths safer;
  • Meet Boulder’s carbon reduction goals;
  • Keep Boulder open for entrepreneurs and the ecosystem that encourages them;
  • Make Boulder attractive for creative people, in the arts, research, and elsewhere;
  • Maintain a balance of conservation and recreation access on our open space.

While I don’t necessarily agree with every position of each of these candidates, I strongly believe they are all smart, thoughtful, willing to engage, and capable of thinking long-term about what is good for our city and community.

Voting in Boulder is easy. If you haven’t registered to vote, please register now. And, Engage Boulder is having voter-oriented events several times a week between now and the election – get involved!

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Sep 19 2017

Engage in Boulder’s Upcoming Local Election

Boulder has local elections every odd year. That means we are having a local election this year, with mail-in balloting starting on 10/16/17 and ending on 11/7/17.

Because it’s on an odd-year cycle, turnout has historically been relatively low (under 50%). As a result, a very small number of votes can have a big impact on the election results. This is especially important for the city council election.

A number of Boulder residents, including me, have organized a new group called Engage Boulder to help get out the vote in this election cycle. Between now and 11/7/17, you’ll see a number of suggestions, events, and encouragement.

Yesterday, Engage Boulder put out a short overview on why you should vote in the local election. It also had easy links to register for the mail-in voting. The overview follows – and, if you are interested – there’s a Get Out the Vote Event 9/27 at Oskar Blues in Boulder. To learn more about the upcoming Boulder election and related events, sign up to join the Engage Boulder newsletter.


Participating in your local election is critical. It’s up to all of the citizens of Boulder to elect a slate of candidates committed to practical, analytical decision-making and a vision for the city that is open, progressive, and forward-looking. With your help, this can happen.

Why Vote in Local Elections

(And Why You Should Encourage  All Your Friends To Vote Too)

  1. Because your vote matters: We know that a few voters can drastically shift the outcome of an election. In the 2015 city council election, Jan Burton was only elected by 125 votes. Your vote can literally sway the election.

  2. Because what local government does affect you:  It decides:

    1. The safety and upkeep of our public areas.

    2. The quantity and type of local housing.

    3. The quality of trails for riding, hiking, and running.

    4. The level of support for the art, music, and entrepreneurial scene.

    5. How easy it is to get from home to work to play … and back.

    6. How easy it is to start and grow a business, or a family.

    7. And much, much more.

  3. Because it gives you the power to create change: We become the city we imagine, and how we govern ourselves has a lot to say about it. So vote on behalf of the next generation of Boulderites trying to live affordably, work hard for a worthwhile company, and enjoy a high quality of life.

  4. Because it’s easy: A few years ago Boulder started voting entirely by mail. You get the ballot around October 16. Why not take 15 minutes to fill it out? If you aren’t registered here, spend less than five minutes on the Secretary of State’s website to change that.

  5. Because you try hard to be practical and forward-looking: We want our local government to also be practical and forward-looking.

  6. Because you don’t need to spend hours researching the issues and candidates (unless you want to!):  Open BoulderBetter Boulder, and Engage Boulder have specific recommendations of who and what to vote for in the upcoming election.  If you agree with their general philosophy you may wish to leverage their research to vote their recommendations.

Mail-in ballots will be sent out on October 16th, register or check your registration online here. In 2013 and 2015 voter turnout was about 46% in Boulder. In 2016 it was 92%. We know you have it in you! Please share this email with at least five friends! 

Hope to see you at our Get Out the Vote Event 9/27 at Oskar Blues in Boulder.

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Nov 9 2016

Taking a Deep Breath

My partner Seth sent out an email to our CEO list this morning titled Taking a deep breath after we received several emails from CEOs with questions along the lines of “how should we think about the result of the election / what should we do?” After I saw a few responses to Seth’s note, I asked if he was ok with me republishing it here. I realize that very few of you who read my blog are on our CEO list so I hope it’s helpful to you to see what Seth sent around.

Seth’s note follows:

“While I’m dismayed at what happened last night, now isn’t a time to be reactionary. And the US needs a strong and vocal counterbalance to the hate and bigotry we just empowered.

For many of you, as well as for us, it was a deeply disappointing night. And it’s easy to wake up today with a sense of fear and foreboding about the future of our country. That’s understandable. And while we share that fear we also continue to share an optimism about the greatness of our country and our future. America is a resilient country and we passionately hope that resilience will temper the hate and vitriol that’s been on display over the past months in this election.

We’ve heard from many of you about what last night might mean for your businesses, whether a recession is imminent, whether costs should be cut immediately, etc. And we know that the markets appear to be reacting strongly to the news of a Trump presidency. But we believe that now isn’t the time for reactionary action. If you were excited about your business last week you should be excited about it today.

Our advice for the moment is to let things settle out. Stand up for the beliefs that are important to you. Be vocal within your community about things like tolerance, fairness and inclusiveness. Your employees will be looking to you for how to react. Show them that our economy and your business will go on. That we’ll evaluate the future dispassionately and that your business today isn’t fundamentally different than your business yesterday.”

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Nov 9 2016

Getting Back To Work

Yesterday morning I woke up and said out loud “I accept whatever the outcome of this election is.”

I decided that whatever the outcome, I had spent all the emotional and functional energy I wanted to on the election. I was public about my point of view. I advocated for my perspective. And I voted.

In our democracy, I accept the outcome. I’m a long term optimist and hold that value front and center.

It’s now time for me to get back to work. And that starts with a run on the Embarcadero …

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Nov 5 2016

My Last Post About This Election – Don’t Waste Your Vote

Please vote. Just so you know my bias before reading further, I’m voting for Hillary Clinton.

This post is not aimed at you if you have already decided to vote for Clinton or for Trump. It is aimed at you if you haven’t voted, are considering not voting, or are voting for someone other than Clinton or Trump.

At this point, especially in states like Colorado where it appears the election will be close, action other than a vote for Clinton is essentially supporting Trump. Regardless of your perspective about the candidates, the election process, our current system, or anything that needs to be changed going forward, either Clinton or Trump is going to be elected president by Wednesday.

I’ve been deeply upset about many things during this election. However, at this point, I feel extremely strongly that Trump is not a suitable candidate for president. I’m appalled that things have gotten to this point and that he’s been able to get away with things he’s said and done, but I’ve struggled with how to articulate my feelings in a direct and factual way.

Fortunately, Mark Suster did it for me last week in a post titled And Then They Came for Me … I’ve read Mark’s post once a day as I pondered what I wanted to write. As Amy and I finished Episode 5 of Goliath last night, my thoughts around this finally came into focus.

You should go read Mark’s post, but the rest of this post builds off of things he wrote.

“You don’t get to pretend for 5 years that the first African American president in US history wasn’t born in the United States and then get a free pass on running for the presidency.” (Suster)

On top of this clear racism, Trump had the audacity to both claim that Clinton started this and then he finished it. This was absurd beyond comprehension. It’s a classic example of extreme misdirection, something that is woven through many of Trump’s mistakes and misdeeds. It’s the opposite of a leader who takes responsibility for his actions.

“You don’t get to launch your campaign saying illegal Mexicans are “rapists and murderers and some, I assume, are good people.” That is racist and fear mongering and stoking the flames of those who want to vilify “the other” which has been done throughout our country to the Irish, the Polish, the Jews, Italians and yes — the Germans — and every other immigrant population throughout history. Racism is disqualifying. Immigration and assimilation are two of the unique features that have made America so great over its centuries.” (Suster)

I’m Jewish. My grandparents came here from Russia and Germany in the early 1900’s. Deep in my bones, I worry the Cossacks are coming to take me away and kill me. This is a recurring theme in my discussions with my therapist and my wife who is not afraid of this, but at least empathic to my concerns.

“You don’t get to call for a religious test to enter our country, potentially denying access to more than 1 billion Muslim people in the world including very large populations in Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.” (Suster)

In addition to being deeply offensive to me, it violates the basic tenets on which our country was founded. As a child growing up in Texas, I learned this in eighth grade American history.

“You don’t get to say out loud that you would kiss women against their will or grab them against their will. That isn’t “locker-room talk” it is sexual assault and you don’t get to normalize that talk and then be president of our country. ” (Suster)

I’ve been extraordinarily upset by this aspect of the election, an emotion I share with literally millions of women (and many men.) Sexual assault is a real thing, not locker-room talk.

“You don’t get to pretend that you “just don’t know anything about” David Duke especially when there is this pesky fact of public record that you do know about David Duke.”

Let’s go back to that Jewish and immigrant thing.

“But on issues of racism, race-baiting, religious intolerance, misogyny, sexual assault, white supremacy and demagoguery — there can be no gray area, …. These are disqualifying issues …  If we accept leaders who embrace demagoguery, intolerance and groups of citizens who would turn on each other and vilify “the other” then eventually they will turn on us, … I am the straight son of an immigrant father from South America whose parents on both sides are Jewish and who proudly thinks of myself as an American first and foremost and everything else second.” (Suster)

I am a son of immigrant grandparents from Germany and Russia. I probably would not exist if my grandparents hadn’t managed to get to America – there is a significant chance they would have been exterminated in World War I (Russia) or World War II (Germany). I love this country and while we have many issues, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I encourage you to be deliberate about everything you do. You get to choose who you are and what your values are. On November 9th, either Clinton or Trump will have been elected president.

Please don’t waste your vote by not voting.

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May 16 2016

Book: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

Last week I was on vacation and off the grid. Amy and I decided to stay home, rest, just hang out, and read.

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right was first on the list. I have a very cynical attitude toward politics, especially in the context of big money, so I was fascinated by this book. I’d read snippets about it and had read the New Yorker article Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama by Jane Mayer in 2010 that was the inspiration for her to write this book.

After 450 pages, my cynicism had evolved from significant to profound. I kind of knew what I was getting into when I started reading the book, but the rabbit hole is very, very, very deep. I know that there are many people, especially in politics, who don’t care about the truth and that one person’s truth is not necessarily “the truth.” But the extent of the manipulation, strategies surrounding it, lies supporting it, and the money financing it were extreme even for my already cynical perspective.

I’ve never really engaged financially in politics. While I’ve contributed here and there to candidates that I support, I’ve always done it in the context of personal contributions to the campaign. While I’ve supported specific issues like patent and immigration reform, I don’t think I’ve ever given to a candidate through an organization designed to support one of these issues, but instead I have always given my gifts directly to activities around the specific issues.

With the emergence of Super PACs, it’s gotten more confusing, but I’ve tried not to support PACs, Super PACs, or bundlers. I’ve fallen into the trap of this several times, but always made sure that what I did wasn’t tax deductible or characterized as a charitable gift. I’m not trying to be a goody two-shoes, but rather just follow the rules and play by them.

While Mayer’s book focuses on the Koch’s, a bunch of their friends in their extended network, and the rise of the radical right, she alludes to similar dynamics going on now on the liberal front. While it’s easy to paint it as extremes of the Republican party, label it the rise of the libertarians, or describe it as a takeover of the Republican party, it’s clear to me that the financial dynamic described covers the entire political spectrum.

But that’s not the disturbing part to me, as money, influence, and power have always been wrapped up together. Instead, I ‘m bothered by the characterization of the activities as charitable, the blatant tax evasion from the contributors, the disingenuous behavior by the principles and their proxies, and the fundamental disrespect for a system that is supposed to be representative of the people.

Regardless of your political leanings or attitude, this book is worth reading, if only to have a perspective on how far we have gone into some alternate reality that now is driving how things work. Or maybe it’s always been this way, and we are just now noticing how much money is, and can be, involved.

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