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Denver Ballot Guide: What to Know Before Casting a Vote

The November 5 election features three school board races, four local measures, and two state-wide propositions. Here's a guide to it all.

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The approaching November 5 election has garnered significantly less attention than when Denverites last turned out to vote. After all, the election in May featured a tight race for mayor, a shakeup on City Council, and the decriminalization of magic mushrooms. This ballot is significantly smaller: just a handful of school board seats are open and four local measures need deciding. Still, it’s important you know what’s at stake and that you return those ballots.

School Board At Large

The Denver Board of Education features seven seats, five of which represent distinct geographic areas and two of which are at large—covering the whole city. Each board member serves four-year terms, which are staggered so the whole board is not up for election in the same year. In 2019, one at-large seat is up for grabs and it’s the only office for which every voter in Denver will cast a ballot. The position is currently held by Allegra “Happy” Haynes, who can’t run again due to term limits. Three candidates are in the race to replace her.

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Tay Anderson is a community activist, a graduate of Manual High School, and is working as a restorative justice coordinator at North High School. He ran unsuccessfully for school board in 2017, but has held positions in Denver Public Schools over the past two years and is mounting a more robust campaign this year.

Alexis Menocal Harrigan is a mother of a current DPS student and has experience working in the district as a government affairs director. She served as an educational adviser to former Gov. John Hickenlooper and is now active in the nonprofit community.

Natela Manuntseva fled Uzbekistan with her family when she was 12 years old, and Colorado accepted her family in 2000. After earning her political science degree from Metro State University of Denver, she worked in Washington, D.C. as a congressional research associate then returned to Colorado and decided to run for school board to be a voice for students.

School Board District 1

The District 1 school board seat covers southeast Denver (the Hampden, Wellshire, and University Hills area), so only voters in that part of the city will cast a ballot. The seat is currently occupied by Anne Rowe, who has also termed out. Her position will be filled by one of three candidates.

Scott Baldermann is a Colorado native who worked as an architect and then as a software entrepreneur before selling his business. He has two kids in the DPS system and served as president of the Lincoln Elementary School parent–teacher association.

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Radhika Nath is an Indian immigrant who came to the U.S. to pursue a higher education. She is disability rights advocate with a doctorate in public policy and has two children who are DPS students.

Diana Romero Campbell grew up in southeast Denver, where she graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. She has worked in the Denver’s nonprofit education community for two decades and is a parent of two DPS students.

School Board District 5

The District 5 school board seat covers northeast Denver (think Berkeley, Sloan’s Lake, and Sunnyside), and only voters in that part of the city will cast a ballot. The seat is occupied by Lisa Flores, who chose not to seek reelection.  Her position will be filled by one of three candidates.

Julie Bañuelos is a former DPS teacher and a community activist supporting immigrants and people experiencing homelessness. In 2017, she ran unsuccessfully for the at-large school board seat and was inspired to run again after watching the direction the district has gone since then.

Tony Curcio is a DPS parent, an engineer, and a volunteer who has been serving in the schools for over a decade. He ran unsuccessfully for school board once before, in 2007.

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Brad Laurvick serves as the pastor at Highlands United Methodist Church. He is the father of a DPS student and has been a vocal critic of the district, especially during last January’s teacher strike.

Referred Question 2A

What you’ll see: “Shall the Charter of the City and County of Denver be amended to create the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, to require the department to perform the powers and duties formerly performed by the Department of Public Works, and to assign the department new powers and duties in regard to transportation services, transportation safety programs, and non-motorized transportation facilities?”

What it means: This measure stems from Mayor Michael Hancock’s announcement in April, during which he said he planned to create a new city department that oversees transportation and infrastructure projects—similar to what other major cities have done. Currently, transportation is housed within the Department of Public Works, which would be downsized under the new format. The consolidation could save the city around $7 million dollars annually, but because it would be a cabinet-level position, it must be approved by voters. A “yes” vote would be in favor of creating the new department.

Referred Question 2B

What you’ll see: “Shall the charter of the City and County of Denver be amended to remove from the Department of General Services the management and control of facilities owned or leased by the City and County for theatre, concert, auditorium or arena purposes, in order to conform the charter to other laws of the City and County assigning the responsibility to manage such facilities to the agency known as the Denver Arts and Venues?”

What it means: Similar to the ballot’s first question, 2B asks voters to create another city agency called Denver Arts and Venues. This agency—which oversees venues like Red Rocks—has essentially been in place for years, but it was operating within the Department of General Services. A “yes” vote would be in favor of officially making Denver Art and Venues its own agency.

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Referred Question 2C

What you’ll see: “Shall the Charter of the City and County of Denver be amended to add emergency medical technician as a rank in the fire department and to allow the chief of the fire department to assign an assistant chief to the duties of shift commander who shall serve at the pleasure of the chief?”

What it means: This measure would allow the Denver Fire Department to create two new ranks, one of which would be Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)—a rank that would be below the position of firefighter. This measure would also allow the Denver Fire Department to formally create a shift commander position, who would serve as the safety officer when the department has to respond to major incidents. A “yes” vote would be in favor of approving both positions.

Referred Question 2D

What you’ll see: “Shall the Charter of the City and County of Denver be amended to require elected officials to maintain residency in Denver, and, if a district Councilmember, in the district, throughout the term of office?”

What it means: This measure effectively closes a loophole in the city’s requirements of elected officials. Currently, anyone who holds elected office in Denver (mayor, city council, clerk, etc.) is required to live in Denver when running for office. However, it is not required that those officials live in the city for the duration of their term. A “yes” vote would make it mandatory that an elected official reside within the city limits of Denver for the extent of their service.

Propositions CC and DD

Every voter will also be asked to weigh in on two state-wide propositions. Proposition CC would allow the state to keep excess TABOR taxes instead of refunding the money to taxpayers. Read our explainer on the complicated (and controversial) proposition here.

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Proposition DD would legalize sports betting in Colorado and generate a dedicated revenue source for the Colorado Water Plan. Read our explainer on this initiative here.

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