Denver voter guide: 13 local ballot measures, explained (plus other stuff you need to know)
You’ve got some important decisions to make about how you want your government to spend money, raise taxes and when to vote.
So, we know. There’s a lot on your ballot this fall.
During a year when you won’t get to vote on who’s running the state or the country, Denver residents and local lawmakers still had plenty of things they wanted you to consider. So this year’s ballot includes 13 ballot measures, including eight ballot measures put there by the Denver City Council (referred questions) and five that got on the ballot after residents got enough signatures to put them on there (initiated ordinances).
Here’s what you will see on your ballot:
- Denver school board candidates
- Three statewide ballot measures
- 13 local ballot measures. You can find more info on those … right here, that’s what this is for!
🗳️ How to vote
Your ballot should get to you as early as this week if you’re already registered to vote. Here are some important dates to keep in mind, here’s how to track your ballot and here’s a short guide to signing the back of your mail-in ballot. Remember, in Colorado, you can register to vote and vote, in-person, all the way up until 7 p.m. on Election Day (that’s Nov. 2).
🗳️ Other voting things to know
Voter turnout so far for this year’s election is, simply put, not great so far.
The low turnout was expected — it is an off year after all — but the good news is that at least 247 of the city’s youngest voters (age 17-19) have already turned in their ballots.
If you never received your ballot in the mail, don’t worry — you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t vote! Head to a polling place, and as long as you’re in line by 7pm on Election Day, you’re good to go.
Statewide ballot measures
- Proposition 119: Learning enrichment and academic progress program, explained
- Proposition 120: Property tax assessment rate reduction, explained
- Amendment 78: Legislative authority for spending state money, explained
❓ Denver ballot measures
🏗️ 2A to 2E: Voting on a $450 million bond package
These are the bond questions collectively asking voters to approve $450 million to pay for a bunch of stuff. Each one corresponds to something that the bond money will be paying for.
2A – Denver facilities
2B – Housing and shelters
2C – Transportation
2D – Parks and recreation
2E – National Western Complex arena
👨👩👧👧 2F: Repealing the group living amendment increasing the number of unrelated adults who can live together.
Denver City Council voted earlier this year to change the zoning code to allow up to five unrelated adults to legally live together in a single home, up from two. This measure would repeal that law. (Note: 2F was not referred on the ballot by the City Council, but appears as a referred measure due to a Secretary of State rule. It was an initiated ordinance.)
🔍 2G: Allowing a citizen oversight board to appoint the independent monitor.
This would make it so that instead having the independent monitor appointed by the mayor, the person would be named by the nine-person Citizen Oversight Board with the approval of the City Council.
🗳️ 2H: Moving the city’s municipal elections from May to April.
This would change when you get to vote for mayor and for city council members.
🌿 300: A sales tax increase on retail marijuana sales to pay for pandemic research.
The money raised would go toward the University of Colorado Denver CityCenter for research.
⛳ 301: Making it harder to build on the Park Hill Golf Course.
This one would changes the city’s laws so it no longer has the final say in lifting conservation easements, which would directly impact the Park Hill Golf Course.
⛳ 302: Exempting Park Hill Golf Course from Initiated Ordinance 301.
Directly related to 301, this one would change the definition of “conservation easement.”
⛺ 303: Modifying the city’s urban camping ban.
It would require the city to respond to homelessness encampments much quicker and allow residents to the sue city if they’re not cleared by a certain timeframe (on Oct. 31 — three days before the election — a Denver District Court ruled part of Ballot Issue 303 unlawful. Here’s more on that).
🧾 304: Lowering the city sales and use tax, then capping it.
This measure would lower the city’s sales and use tax from 4.81% to 4.5%, which would impact the city’s overall revenue.
Denver school board candidates
Chalkbeat Colorado has published a questionnaire on each of the candidate’s priorities. And they have been profiling the candidates:
Marla Benavides – A Denver mother who home-schools her son and once worked as a bilingual paraprofessional in public schools
Scott Esserman – A parent and former classroom educator who helped to open a comprehensive high school in Denver
Vernon Jones Jr. – A Christian pastor who has worked in Denver schools for years and currently leads a district innovation zone
Jane Shirley – A former teacher, principal, and district administrator, who also once ran a downtown cabaret theater
Nicky Yollick – A former state legislative candidate and avowed progressive political activist
District 2 – southwest
Xóchitl “Sochi” Gaytán – A real estate agent who grew up in southwest Denver, graduated from a neighborhood high school, and raised her own family in the region
Karolina Villagrana – A former Denver teacher who held bilingual outdoor read-alouds for neighborhood kids during the pandemic
District 3 – east
Mike DeGuire – A retired Denver principal who is a career educator and now coaches school leaders
Carrie Olson – The current school board president who started out as a teacher in Denver in 1985
District 4 – northeast
Gene Fashaw – A math teacher at High Point Academy.
Andrea Mosby Jones -(Chalkbeat reports she has withdrawn from the race)
Michelle Quattlebaum – The family and community liaison at George Washington High School.
Jose Silva – The executive director of the Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health.