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Politics

2021 Denver Election Results: City Initiatives, Statewide Measures, and DPS School Board Races

Initial results showed Denver voters approving much of Mayor Hancock’s RISE Denver plan but stopping short of funding a new arena. Meanwhile, three statewide initiatives are failing and local school board races remain tight.

When polls closed Tuesday evening, nearly 100,000 Denver residents had cast votes to weigh in on 13 local ballot measures, three state-wide initiatives, and four Denver School Board races. From city infrastructure spending to the future of Park Hill Golf Course, voters had plenty to sift through ahead of Election Day. Below are initial results from local and statewide contests.

Denver Ballot Measures

The first five Denver ballot measures (2A–2E) refer to Mayor Michael Hancock’s RISE (Rebuilding for an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy) Denver plan and comprise $450 million in city spending for various infrastructure and construction projects.

Question 2A

Projected to Pass: 63.19% Yes; 36.81% No
The first of the RISE Denver measures would allow the City and County of Denver to borrow $104 million for improvements to public facilities including the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Bonfils Theater Complex. The initiative would also provide funding to build two new libraries and fund upgrades to help several Denver facilities accommodate people with disabilities.

Question 2B

Projected to Pass: 61.03% Yes; 38.97% No
Question 2B asks voters to allow the city to borrow $38.6 million to purchase and redevelop buildings, and turn them into shelters for people experiencing homelessness. The funding would be expected to provide 200 to 300 individual shelter rooms across the city.

Question 2C

Projected to Pass: 61.11% Yes; 38.89% No
Question 2C asks voters if the city can borrow $63.3 million for transportation projects including expanding the city’s sidewalk network, renovating and building bike lanes, and creating neighborhood bikeways and a commuter trail around downtown. Additionally, Question 2C would allow the city to repair stretches of Morrison Road to establish a cultural and arts district.

Question 2D

Projected to Pass: 61.96% Yes; 38.04% No
A yes vote on Question 2D would allow the city to borrow $54 million to build two new public parks and repair the facilities—including playgrounds, bathrooms, and athletic courts—at existing parks.

Question 2E

Projected to Fail: 41.37% Yes; 58.63% No
The last of the RISE Denver measures asks voters if the city can borrow $190 million to build a new multi-use arena and renovate a historic building at the National Western Campus. The arena would be used for concerts, sporting events, and the rodeo.

Question 2F

Projected to Fail: 31.74% Yes; 68.26% No
If Question 2F were to pass, it would have repealed a City Council amendment from February that allowed up to five unrelated individuals to live in a single home.

Question 2G

Projected to Pass: 67.67% Yes; 32.33% No
Question 2G asks voters whether the Office of the Independent Monitor, which oversees investigations into the Denver Police Department and the Denver Sheriff Department, should be chosen by an existing volunteer board, rather than by the mayor.

Question 2H

Projected to Pass: 74.72% Yes; 25.28% No
If Question 2H passes, it would move Denver’s general municipal elections back one month, from May to April, in order to provide more time to mail ballots to overseas and military residents who wish to vote in both the city’s general and runoff elections.

Initiated Ordinance 300

Projected to Fail: 40.27% Yes; 59.73% No
Ordinance 300 asks voters if the city’s marijuana tax should be increased by 1.5 percent annually to create a pandemic research fund at the University of Colorado Denver CityCenter. The fund would be used to conduct research aimed at protecting residents in the instance of future pandemics.

Initiated Ordinance 301

Projected to Pass: 63.04% Yes; 36.96% No
If passed, Ordinance 301 would mandate voter approval for any planned development on properties covered by a conservation easement or designated as a city park (read: Park Hill Golf Course).

Initiated Ordinance 302

Projected to Fail: 37.75% Yes; 62.25% No
Also relating to the 155-acre Park Hill Golf Course, Ordinance 302 is a countermeasure to Initiative 301. If passed, it would revise Denver’s definition of a conservation easement to exclude Park Hill Golf Course, thereby allowing the property to be developed.

Initiated Ordinance 303

Projected to Fail: 44.66% Yes; 55.34% No
Ordinance 303 would prohibit anyone from camping on private property without permission from the property owners. It would also allow property owners to sue the city if an encampment was not removed within three days of a formal complaint. The current law, passed in 2012, requires the city to provide seven days’ notice to people experiencing homelessness before clearing an encampment. Ordinance 303 would also require the city to establish four publicly funded campsites with running water, restroom facilities, and lighting.

Initiated Ordinance 304

Projected to Fail: 37.83% Yes; 62.17% No
If passed, Ordinance 304 would lower Denver’s sales tax rate from 4.81 percent to 4.5 percent and cap it at the reduced rate.

Statewide Ballot Measures

Amendment 78: (Requires 55 percent of the vote to pass)

Projected to Fail: 43.95% Yes; 56.5% No
The constitutional amendment would require the state legislature to approve all state spending including custodial funds, which are federal grants and private donations originating from outside the state. The spending of custodial funds is currently not subject to legislative approval, meaning the governor can distribute that money with unilateral authority.

Proposition 119

Projected to Fail: 45.51% Yes; 54.49% No
The statewide proposition would increase Colorado’s marijuana sales tax from 15 percent to 20 percent to create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress program (LEAP) across Colorado, providing for out-of-school instruction for students aged five to 17 years old. The tax increase would produce an additional $137 million in tax revenue for a program that would focus on low-income students.

Proposition 120

Projected to Fail: 43.11% Yes; 56.89% No
The statewide proposition would lower the property tax for multi-family housing (from 7.15 percent to 6.5 percent), as well as the tax assessment rate for lodging properties like hotels and AirBnB rentals (from 29 percent to 26.4 percent). The proposition was originally intended to apply to single-family homes, though the state legislature passed laws this summer that reduced the scope of Proposition 120.

Denver Public Schools Board of Education

At Large:
Scott Esserman, a former teacher who helped found Northfield High School, had won 39.31% of the vote Tuesday. Vernon Jones Jr. (23%), Marla F. Benavides (16%), Jane Shirley (16%), and Nicky Yollick (6%) trailed in the director-at-large race.

District 2
Xóchitl “Sochi” Gaytan, a real estate agent and co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum, led narrowly with 50.39% over Karolina Villagrana, a former teacher who had won 49.61% of the initial count.

District 3
Carrie A. Olson, the incumbent candidate and current president of the Denver School Board, led with 68.09% over Mike DeGuire (31.91%).

District 4
Michelle Quattlebaum, a staffer at George Washington High School, led with 43.27% of the initial vote over Gene Fashaw (40.94%) and José Silva (15.79%).

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