We did it, Denver. We cast our ballots for the third time in this, the Interminable Year of 2019.
This time we just voted on four ballot measures: one about establishing a transportation department, one about making Denver Arts & Venues a stand-alone agency, one about adding EMTs and shift commander ranks to the Denver Fire Department, and one about requiring people elected to represent Denver to continue living in Denver throughout their terms.
We voted. Now it’s time to see what we’ve changed.
The latest results show all four Denver ballot measures passing. Nothing will be finalized until Wednesday.
Results also show turnout in Denver was around 35 percent, similar to the last off-year election in 2017.
✅ Referred Question 2A: The one about establishing a transportation department
Voters chose to create the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure on Tuesday, giving walking, biking and transit an elevated role in the city bureaucracy while paving the way for city-owned transit systems.
The vote was not close. The charter change measure had earned more than 73 percent of the vote Tuesday night.
For decades, transportation has been a division within the Denver Department of Public Works. Starting Jan. 1, streets will be a cabinet-level concern like the airport and city planning, with an executive director who reports directly to the mayor.
The director might be Eulois Cleckley, the current head of Public Works who was hired to oversee the transition. When the clock strikes in a new year, the department will hit the ground running because it already essentially is, he said. The department has gone from about 125 people working on transportation to about 1,100. Cleckley credits the new setup with the quick-hit, overnight bus lane and bike lane project on 15th Street.
✅ Referred Question 2B: The one about officially making Denver Arts & Venues a stand-alone agency
Voters made Denver Arts & Venues a stand-alone government agency Tuesday, changing pretty much nothing.
City officials call this type of thing a “charter cleanup.” It adjusts city rules to reflect what’s already happening. In this case, Arts & Venues (and its previous iterations) has operated independently since last century, but it technically remains under the watch of Denver General Services, which manages city-owned facilities.
The vote was a landslide, with 79 percent of voters approving the change Tuesday night.
Arts & Venues operates places like Red Rocks, the Colorado Convention Center, the Denver Coliseum and the Denver Performing Arts Complex
The change requires no new funding or positions, according to Denver officials.
✅ Referred Question 2C: The one about adding EMTs and shift commander ranks to the Denver Fire Department
This measure passed, which means emergency medical technicians and shift commanders will be added to the city charter’s language.
In more practical terms: this means the fire department will create a new rank below firefighters and help them hire at least six EMTs to assist the department. The department wants them to help provide service to minor calls that still require some medical evaluation but don’t necessarily require firefighters. It also adds a shift commander position to the city’s charter, which is a position responsible for daily operations for the department’s fleet.
✅ Referred Question 2D: The one about residency requirements for Denver elected officials
Voters overwhelmingly approved this measure to require elected officials to live in Denver throughout their terms.
This law would affect the mayor, City Council members, clerk and recorder, and the auditor. It would create a vacancy and a special election to fill the post (if a scheduled election is not imminent) if one of these elected officials moves outside of the city or their council districts.
Propositions CC and DD
Here’s what our colleagues at Colorado Public Radio were reporting Tuesday night.
Proposition CC, which would have allowed the state to keep money that would normally be returned to taxpayers because it exceeds revenue caps set in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, has failed, according to the Associated Press.
The measure was trailing by more than 100,000 votes when the AP called it shortly after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. — Nathaniel Minor, CPR News
Proposition DD, which would legalize sports betting in Colorado and create a 10 percent tax on casinos’ house winnings that would largely benefit Colorado’s Water Plan, is too close to call in the latest round of ballots reported by Colorado’s Secretary of State. — Ben Markus, CPR News
For current returns, please visit CPR’s handy results tracker.
Union-backed candidates hold strong leads, poised to shift balance of Denver school board
Here’s what Chalkbeat was reporting as of 10:30 p.m. Tuesday:
The Denver school board is on the verge of a historic shift, with union-backed candidates holding leads in races for all three open seats. If those leads hold through the night, the board could move away from longstanding education reform policies.
In a three-way race for an at-large seat representing the entire city, candidate Tay Anderson had 49% of the vote followed by 38% for Alexis Menocal Harrigan and just 13% for Natela Manuntseva, according to results updated at 10 p.m. Tuesday.
“I think Denver is ready for new leadership,” Anderson said. — Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat
What we’re seeing and hearing out there
📊 6:30 p.m.: OK, time for one last returns check-in before the first results drop. Let’s go to the charts! Again!
📊 3:26 p.m.: Right now, the highest voter turnout in Denver is this little nook of Windsor, home to Windsor Gardens retirement community.
In fact, that Windsor precinct is pretty far ahead in turnout. Next behind it is this precinct in Hampden South.
— AD (@AshleyDean)
🙋🏼♀️ Editor’s note: No one wants to talk to our reporters about Denver ballot initiatives. Only propositions CC and DD. — AD (@AshleyDean)
🗣 1:47 p.m.: Jim Peiker of Cap Hill pulled up to a ballot box in an old, red Beetle. Asked why he’s casting his ballot today, he exclaimed, “To vote! To vote!” He’s voting for CC “because I never liked TABOR,” Peiker said, referencing the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. — DS (@DavidASachs)
📊 1:30 p.m.: Let’s go to the charts! — Ashley Dean (@AshleyDean)
🗣 1:22 p.m.: “I just liked to vote in every election,” said Dennis Ochoa. “This one, you know, it wasn’t anything like really important, but I kind of voted for everything the city wanted.” — DS (@DavidASachs)
🗣 1:16 p.m.: As she slipped her ballot through the dropbox at 14th Avenue and Bannock Street, Laura Renner, when asked what brought her out to vote, put it bluntly: “Because not voting is how we elected Trump.” (She’s talking about Donald Trump, our president.) — DS (@DavidASachs)
🗣 1:08 p.m.: Lauren Stephenson, 36, said she came out for Proposition CC, which would let the state keep tax money that would otherwise be refunded to Coloradans through its (in)famous Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
“I just can’t believe that art education is so underfunded,” she said, using tax dollars for education and other stuff “is what the government is supposed to be doing.” — DS (@DavidASachs)
👀 12:58 p.m.: Some election workers buzzed around the voting center, organizing ballots behind clear glass window panes, while others helped people vote either by paper or on a tablet in a booth. — DS (@DavidASachs)
📊 12:49 p.m.: Going into Monday, turnout was at 17.5 percent citywide, according to Alton Dillard with Denver Elections. That’s low, he said, “but we’re already starting to see an uptick.”
The general public calls this thing an off-year election because there aren’t any major political figures running. “There’s no such thing as a small election for us,” Dillard told Denverite from his post at Denver Elections Division in Golden Triangle. — David Sachs (@DavidASachs)
🗣 12:12 p.m.: Jean Johnson has lived in Montbello for more than 30 years and is originally from New York. She said she voted on Monday.
“You can’t complain if you don’t vote,” Johnson said.
She said voted no on Prop CC and yes on Prop DD.
“I don’t trust the government,” Johnson said about her vote on CC, adding. “They lie every time.”
She said she voted yes on Prop DD because she’s “willing to take a chance on gambling” even though she doesn’t really do it. — EH (@EstebanHRZ)
🗣 11:50 a.m.: Pamela Watkins Elmore, assistant supervisor at Montbello Rec Center’s polling center, said turnout had been better near the car drop-off booth outside the center than inside, where less than 20 people had cast ballots by 11:30 am. She said the car drop-off was simply more convenient for voters. — EH (@EstebanHRZ)
🗣 11:46 a.m.: Samuel Domond dropped his outside the Montbello Rec Center on Tuesday morning shortly after 11 a.m. “It’s just one of those natural things to do,” he said.
Domond said as an African American he wants to make sure his voice is heard. He’s lived in Montbello for 10 years. He wasn’t familiar with local ballot measures but said he did vote in the school bird election. “I vote regularly,” he said, adding he doesn’t want to waste an opportunity to do so.
On statewide ballot measures, he said he voted yes on CC because he thinks it will help with teacher pay and improving roads. He voted no on DD because he said it was confusing, adding they “sports gambling and water just don’t seem to mix.” This measure would legalize sports gambling and establish a house tax on casinos benefiting the state’s water plan. — Esteban Hernandez (@EstebanHRZ)
👀 10:59 a.m.: Here we go!