A reactive government is not an effective government. Many of the "urgent" issues (Housing, Homelessness, Transportation, Climate Change, etc...) our community is facing are not new; we have seen them coming for years or, in some cases, decades. They have been looming and stewing until they have now become so demanding that City Council has been forced to address them. There is a better way...
Effective and proactive governance is the core of my approach to leading Boulder through these times of change. Humans have walked on the Moon, driven rovers on Mars, and observed the humble beginnings of our Universe. These profound achievements were made possible by setting clear goals and priorities, followed by a commitment to a process that is based on solid evidence and information, and the dedication and adaptability to see the project through to the end. I will bring this scientific approach for success to our local government. In a town of profound intellectualism, we owe it to the people of Boulder to have our city government mirror the characteristics of the people we serve and protect. My approach begins with listening to residents, laying concrete and well-defined goals to meet our needs, and....
Our City Council needs to work proactively and not reactively to issues we face. One of the biggest hurdles to working proactively is that Council tends to micromanage staff. City Council should operate more like a Board of Directors and less like a management team. This philosophical change will force Council to trust staff and focus on long-term planning for our community.
Here are four ways in which we can make our local government more effective and more responsive to our community's needs now and in the future:
RANKED CHOICE VOTING FOR CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS
Boulder took a major step to protect and strengthen our democracy in the fall of 2020, when voters overwhelmingly passed ballot measure 2E "Our Mayor-Our Choice". This gave Boulder residents the right to elect our mayor for the first time in over a century and to do so using Ranked Choice Voting. I was fortunate enough to lead this campaign and heard from thousands of Boulder residents that they are not satisfied with the current voting method and political polarizations festering on our community. Ranked Choice Voting for Mayor was a positive step forward; the next step in this evolution is to use Ranked Choice Voting for our City Council races as well. This form of proportional representation will lessen the polarization, provide more voice and more choice to voters, increase voter turnout, eliminate the spoiler effect, and--most importantly--make sure everyone's vote counts.
FAIR PAY FOR COUNCIL
Everyone deserves to make a living wage in this country. City Council should be no different. For a job that is easily 20hr/wk, it makes no sense that Council members get paid roughly $11,000 per year. There are so many motivated and qualified residents in Boulder that could/should be on City Council yet they can't run for office because they simply can't afford to do so. Serving our community shouldn't be reserved solely for the wealthy, retired, or those that have uniquely flexible jobs. Part-time work in a community that has an Area Median Income of ~$70,000, means Council should be getting paid ~$35,000 per year. We should be paying Council a living wage.
CHANGING THE FISCAL YEAR AND BUDGET CYCLE FOR THE CITY
An odd fact about the City's budget cycle is that it takes place right before Boulder residents elect a new City Council. Two issues with this spring forward. One issue is that a new Council has effectively zero input on the budgetary priorities for the City until a year after they were elected; the new Council is simply managing the previous Council's priorities. The second issue is that this disenfranchises voters who elect a new Council based on values and specific policies. Voters don’t want a new Council being forced to delay their policy agenda. I would like the City to explore moving its budgetary process until after the retreat (which is when the annual and strategic planning occurs).
MOVE THE ANNUAL RETREAT BEFORE THE BUDGET PROCESS
This ties in with the budget cycle mentioned above. The City's retreat (its annual planning and strategic meeting) is held in middle to late January. In my experience working at CU Boulder and serving on the Board of Directors for a number of non-profits, it is more common to have your organization's strategic planning meeting(s) before you set the annual budget. Functionally, you want the strategic planning to inform your budget priorities. They City seems to have this backwards.
These are some of the biggest issues at present. I will focus on keeping a keen eye on ways we can improve and streamline our process and policies.