| AspenTimes.com

Frisch announces 2024 challenge against Rep. Boebert

Aspenite Democrat Adam Frisch will challenge U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt, for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat again in 2024, following the nation’s closest congressional election in the 2022 midterms. 

He announced his intent to run again on Tuesday morning via an online statement. 

“November’s election results show us that Boebert is weak and will be defeated, which is why I have decided to launch my 2024 congressional campaign. Despite her near-loss in a district that favored Republicans by 9 points, Boebert has only doubled down on her divisive antics, attention-seeking, and angertainment that does nothing to benefit the people of Southern and Western Colorado,” Frisch said. “When elected, I will join the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus to find solutions and deliver results for the families, businesses, and communities in this district.”

Gunnison County veterinarian Debby Burnett also announced her intent to run for the congressional seat in 2024 earlier this month. She also ran in 2022 but fell short of appearing on the final ballot after failing to win enough votes in the primary. 

The new term only began just over a month ago, Jan. 7. With the early announcements of campaigns came an early start to the campaign rhetoric.

National Republican Congressional Committee regional spokesperson Delanie Bomar shared a statement with The Times via email: “For years Democrats like Aspen Adam Frisch have attacked Colorado’s oil and gas industry. Frisch’s far-left campaign is dead on arrival.”

Multiple pollsters designated the 27-county district safely in Republican control ahead of the 2022 midterms, but the race ended up the closest of the midterm elections nationwide. 

Boebert edged out a victory over the former Aspen City Council member, winning by just 546 votes out of a total of 327,285 votes cast. Colorado law mandated an automatic recount due to the closeness of the election, which was completed Dec. 12.

Frisch had already conceded the election to Boebert before the final recount.

When Boebert was elected in 2020, she beat Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush of Routt County with 51.4% of the vote to Mitsch Bush’s 45.2%.

A Democrat has not held the 3rd Congressional District House seat since the election of John Salazar in 2008.

Boebert’s firebrand conservatism attracted critics and diehard supporters in her district and across the country. She supported a nationwide abortion ban and openly suggested there shouldn’t be a separation of church and state, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported.

Frisch ran as a moderate Democrat friendly to energy and small business. He also said during his campaign that he would prioritize consensus building and working across the aisle to find compromises. 

He will hold an in-person launch event in Pueblo on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Pueblo Union Depot.

Boebert narrowly wins reelection in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District after Frisch concedes

Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert won reelection in Colorado’s GOP-leaning 3rd Congressional District on Friday,  barely overcoming voters’ forceful rebuke of her highly controversial tenure in Washington over the past two years to help her party expand its slim majority in the U.S. House.

Boebert was leading Democrat Adam Frisch, a former Aspen city councilman, by 551 votes on Friday morning when Frisch conceded in a video news conference with reporters. The contest will have one of the closest margins of any congressional race in the U.S. this year, if not the closest. 

Frisch said in a call with reporters that he wasn’t asking for the mandatory recount paid for by the state that he’s entitled to under Colorado law, but that he supports the recount “to ensure continued faith and the security of our elections.” 

If it does occur — Frisch can waive his right to the recount, which must be completed by Dec. 13 — it’s highly unlikely to make a significant dent in the margin between the two candidates.

Read more on The Colorado Sun.

Affordable housing wins on high-country ballots

A housing market with short supply and high demand does not bode well for a local workforce. That truth is evident in Colorado’s high country, where voters expressed their frustration with the lack of affordable housing and approved a majority of ballot measures aimed at allocating funds to affordable-housing initiatives. 

The high country saw at least 18 ballot measures that somehow addressed the need for affordable housing for local workforces. 

The National Low Income Housing Coalition, a housing advocacy organization, reported that 53% of low income households in Colorado are rent-burdened — or spending more than 30% of their monthly income on housing, as of 2020.

And, Colorado has seen an exponential jump in real-estate prices since the pandemic. According to Redfin, the median home sale price in February 2020 was $403,900. In September 2022, the median price was $549,500.

Both of these statistics feel exacerbated in mountain towns, where the strain on the local workforces is evident in the litany of “help wanted” signs and pleas for affordable housing options in Facebook groups. 

The lack of housing — affordable and otherwise — drives the price hikes. Experts say that the shortage the state is experiencing now started years ago. 

“We saw a 40% decrease in housing production in a decade following the Great Recession. And so, we’re pretty far behind on our housing supply across the board. But, affordable housing specifically has been really negatively affected by that lack of production,” said Brian Rossbert, executive director of Housing Colorado. 

And, even though the Colorado minimum wage will rise to $13.65 in 2023, it does not match the ballooning real estate and rental prices. The NLIHC reported that a minimum wage of $28.64 is needed to afford a two-bedroom unit in Colorado. Both Aspen Skiing Co. and Vail Resorts set their starting hourly wage for non-tipped employees at $20 an hour.

To address the affordable-housing crisis, the government put the issue to voters. Statewide, Proposition 123 passed by a small margin. It will allocate 0.1% of taxable income in Colorado to fund affordable housing programs and assist local governments in increasing their affordable housing stock by 3% each year. 

Many local governments took advantage of HB 22-1117 during the midterm election, or the Use Of Local Lodging Tax Revenue bill from March 2022. It permitted the re-allocation of revenue from the marketing and promotion tax in local marketing districts and lodging tax in counties to fund housing and child care for tourism-related workforces, with voter approval. 

But, most high-country counties, especially those with ski resorts, saw an increase on short-term rental taxes on the ballot. Here is a breakdown of some of those ballot measures:


Proposition 123: The state proposed reallocating 0.1% of taxable income to affordable housing programs and initiatives — 60% of funds to affordable housing financing programs and 40% to programs that support home ownership, support people experiencing homelessness, and support local planning. Local governments that receive funds from Proposition 123 must increase their affordable housing stock by 3% annually. It passed 52.19% to 47.81%.

Ballot Initiatives in high-country counties:


Aspen Issue 2A: The city proposed a sales tax increase on STRs. Lodge-exempt (condominiums) and owner-occupied STRs faced a 5% tax increase. Classic STRS (Airbnbs, etc.) faced a 10% increase. Voters approved it 62% to 38%.

Snowmass Issue 2C: The town proposed re-allocating a portion of its marketing and lodging taxes to workforce housing. It passed 82.7% to 17.3%.


Carbondale Issue 2A: The town proposed imposing an additional tax of 6% sales tax on STRs to fund affordable-housing initiatives. It passed 71.7% to 28.3%.

Glenwood Springs Issue 2C: The city proposed an additional 2.5% sales tax on lodging to fund affordable-housing projects. It passed 55.2% to 44.8%.


Eagle County Issue 1A: The county proposed a 2% lodging sales tax on STRs, excluding municipalities Avon, Minturn, Red Cliff, Basalt, and Vail. The funds will go to child-care programs and affordable-workforce housing, breaking that down to 10% of tax revenue to tourism marketing and 90% to the housing and child-care programs. It passed 59.56% to 40.44%.

Town of Vail Issue 2I: The town proposed collecting the excess revenue from a 2021 0.5% housing sales tax increase to fund housing initiatives. It passed 73.55% to 26.45%.


Grand Junction Issue 2A: The city proposed increasing the lodging tax from 6% to 7% to support nonprofit and governmental partnerships, plus affordable housing for households that make 80% or less of the area’s median income. It failed with 32.08% of votes in favor to 62.92% against.

Grand Junction Issue 2B: The city proposed an 8% tax on STRs to fund affordable-housing initiatives. It failed with 26.4% votes in favor to 73.6% votes against.


Summit County Referred Measure 1B: The county proposed a 2% lodging tax on STRs on unincorporated areas of Summit County to fund “quality of life” initiatives for locals like affordable housing and child care. It passed 72.7% to 23.7%.

Town of Dillon Issue 2C: The town proposed increasing the town’s debt up to $20 million to support the acquisition and maintenance of workforce housing. It passed 54.8% to 45.2%. 


Steamboat Springs Issue 2A: The city proposed a 9% tax raise on STRs and to put that revenue toward “affordable and attainable” workforce-housing projects. It passed 62.3% to 37.7%.


Gunnison River Valley Local Marketing District Issue 6A: The district proposed re-allocating up to 40% of revenue from the marketing tourism tax on lodging toward affordable and workforce housing. It passed 68.5% to 31.5%.


Chaffee County Issue 1A: The county proposed re-allocating up to 60% of the 1.9% lodging-tax revenue to affordable housing and childcare for the local workforce. It passed 63.8% to 36.2%


Estes Park Local Marketing District Issue 6A: The district proposed raising the lodging tax by 3.5% to fund workforce housing and childcare. It passed 60.85 to 39.15%.


Park County Issue 1B: The county proposed a 2% lodging tax on STRs, excluding Fairplay, which already has its own lodging tax, to fund housing and child care for the tourism-related workforce and marketing within the county. It failed with 41.7% of votes in favor and 58.3% of votes against. 


Fraser River Valley Housing Partnership Issue 6A: The partnership proposed imposing a mill levy at the rate of 2.0 mills to fund and maintain affordable workforce housing. It passed 56.6% to 43.39%.

Town of Grand Lake Issue 2A: The town proposed an additional sales tax not exceeding 15% on recreational marijuana, with half of the revenue to general funds and half to support ‘attainable housing.’ It passed 53.02% to 46.98%. 


Gilpin County Issue 1A: The county proposed a 2% lodging tax on STRs, excluding the cities of Central and Black Hawk, with 10% of the revenue to fund marketing and tourism and 90% to fund a broad swath of initiatives, including workforce housing. It passed 54.8% to 45.2%.

With many local governments preparing for an influx of tax revenue earmarked for affordable housing, advocacy groups like Housing Colorado will be watching to see how the money is spent. 

“We can’t talk about health policy or education policy without talking about housing policy,” Rossbert said. “And so, we really encourage local housing advocates to communicate in ways that root all policy discussions in housing.”

Only in Colorado did an affordable-housing ballot measure appear on the ballot statewide, according to reporting from Colorado Public Radio, despite the housing crisis existing nationwide. But, Colorado’s affordable-housing ballot measures performed well from the state to local levels this election, which heartens Rossbert. 

“These investments send a message to our state and federal elected officials that communities who are affected by this housing crisis, which I would argue are all (communities), are taking steps themselves,” he said. “And now, the impetus is on state leaders and federal leaders to take steps to address the crisis.

Correction: This article stated earlier that Glenwood Springs proposed an additional 2.5% sales tax on STRs to fund affordable-housing projects. The tax is on all lodging in the city less than 30 days. The article has been updated to reflect that correction.

PAC foe complains to IRS about Boebert’s June speaking engagement at Basalt church

A complaint over a Sunday service with Rep. Lauren Boebert as the featured speaker at Cornerstone Christian Center alleges the Basalt church’s nonprofit status with the IRS precluded it from hosting a political event by not inviting other candidates to talk.

The complaint was referred to in a defamation lawsuit filed in North Carolina last week against Boebert by American Muckrakers, which in the lead-up to the June primary elections made salacious allegations against the conservative Silt congresswoman.

American Muckrakers and founder David Wheeler, a North Carolina resident, are suing Boebert over comments she made to the media, including on the “Sean Hannity Show,” after the allegations surfaced. Ever since Boebert’s allegedly defamatory remarks were made, combined with what the suit accused Boebert of “malicious prosecution” for filing a protection order against Wheeler, the PAC’s contributions decreased by 92% from June through September.

The lawsuit is unrelated to the “tax-exempt organization complaint” Wheeler filed with the IRS over Boebert’s speaking engagement at the Cornerstone church, where she addressed the congregation at two Sunday services June 26 — two days before the June primaries.

Nine days ahead of the service, Wheeler emailed Cornerstone Pastor Jim Tarr asking if Republican state Sen. Don Coram, who was challenging Boebert in the June primary, could also speak at the service. And if Coram could not, Wheeler volunteered to speak on his behalf.

“Our understanding is that Rep. Lauren Boebert will be speaking from the stage at your Sunday, June 26, 2022, service,” said Wheeler’s email to Tarr. Wheeler provided the email in response to a request from The Aspen Times. “If this is the case, would you allow me or Senator Don Coram (who we do not represent but is Boebert’s opponent in the primary) to also speak before or after her speech?”

Tarr did not respond to a call seeking comment Monday, and Wheeler said Tarr also did not respond to his email requests from June. The IRS also did not respond to a phone call.

On its website, the IRS says it prohibits nonprofit organizations “from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”

In his introductory remarks to Boebert appearance at the second service, available on YouTube, Pastor Tarr said, “She’s not afraid of the Gospel, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In a fiery speech to the Cornerstone faithful, Boebert said, “I’m not going to get too political with you guys because I really can’t stand politics. I love Jesus and I promise if there was something else that he would have called me to, I would have done that with just as much enthusiasm, but this where he called me.”

Boebert then addressed the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade two days earlier on June 24.

“Look at what happened this week with the Supreme Court,” she said. “Glory to God. Think about that — 49 years of Roe V. Wade. Forty-nine years, 63 million children lost, and because God called a man who is not a politician to run for office, and I believe that he was anointed for that position. He answered that call despite whatever people were saying. … and three Supreme Court justices were installed, and now five years from today we can look back and see children running and laughing with smiles on their faces going to school — children who would not have an opportunity to live.”

Her criticism of the separation of church and state at Cornerstone went viral after The Denver Post first reported it.

“The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church,” she said. “That is not how our founding fathers intended it. … I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk that’s not in the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter, and it means nothing like what they say it does.”

After American Muckrakers went public in June with allegations that Boebert had two abortions and was once a paid escort, Boebert denied the claims and threatened to sue the PAC. Boebert has yet to file suit over the allegations, but on June 25 she filed for a protection order against Wheeler, which a Garfield County judge dismissed in August, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel.

The Sentinel quoted from Boebert’s complaint as saying in part, “I understand that, as public official (sic) and a public figure, I am subject to public scrutiny and strongly support the First Amendment rights of the American people, but David Wheeler’s actions have expanded to physical and verbal threats that has caused me to fear for my safety and the safety of my family. I have been repeatedly stalked, contacted, harassed and threatened by David Wheeler.”

Boebert, a first-term House representative, is running against former Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch, a Democrat, in the November contest.

Wheeler said Monday that his PAC is letting up on Boebert for now but is not entirely done.

“We’ll keep digging on her,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of things coming out, but primarily our work is done. Voting is starting very soon, and we don’t also want her to use us as an excuse to beat up on Frisch.”


Boebert beats Don Coram in GOP primary for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District

Lauren Boebert, representative for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, sits inside Glenwood Springs City Hall after speaking with City Council earlier this year.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent file

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert on Tuesday took a major step toward securing a second term when she easily defeated her Republican primary challenger, state Sen. Don Coram, in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. 

The Associated Press called the race for Boebert at 7:36 p.m. Boebert was leading Coram with 64% of the vote compared to his 36%.

Coram promised to be a drama-free, get-it-done replacement to Boebert in Washington. But 3rd District GOP voters decided instead by what appeared to be a commanding margin to stay the course with the Garfield County congresswoman, despite all of her controversies, which have helped make Boebert a national Republican figure. 

Boebert raised far more money than Coram heading into the primary election in the 3rd District, which sweeps across 25 counties from the Western Slope into Pueblo and southeast Colorado. She also benefited from about $375,000 in support from outside groups. 

Read the full story from The Colorado Sun here.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Tuesday last chance to vote in June primaries

Those who have not voted in the Tuesday primary elections can still drop off their ballots in-person at the following locations.

  • Pitkin County Administration and Sheriff’s Office, 530 E. Main St., Aspen
  • Town of Snowmass Village Town Hall, 130 Kearns Road, Snowmass Village
  • Basalt Town Hall, 101 Midland Ave., Basalt

The ballot boxes will close at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The Democratic primary ballot for Pitkin County includes contests in House District 57 (Cole Buerger and Elizabeth Velasco) and the 3rd Congressional District (Adam Frisch, Soledad Sandoval Tafoya, and Alex Walker). Incumbent Democrats Sen. Michael Bennet, Gov. Jared Polis, Secretary of State Jena Griswold, State Treasurer Dave Young and Attorney Gen. Phil Weiser are running opposed in the primary.

The Republican primary ballot for Pitkin County has Ron Hanks, Joe O’Dea and a write-in spot for U.S. Senate; Heidi Ganahl and Grez Lopez for the gubernatorial nomination; incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert against Don Coram for the 3rd Congressional District; and Pam Anders, Mike O’Donnell and Tina Peters up for the nomination in the race for secretary of state.

Incumbent HD 57 Rep. Perry Will is running unopposed. Lang Sias is running unopposed for the GOP nomination in the state treasurer’s race, as is John Kellner in the contest for attorney general.

Voters in both the Democrat and Republican primaries also will have three choices in the Pitkin County sheriff’s primary contest. Challengers Michael Buglione and Michael J. Buysse are running against incumbent Joe DiSalvo. The top-two overall vote-getters will advance to the November general election.

More details at www.pitkinvotes.com.

Gov. Polis talks affordable housing, child care, teacher retention during visit to Glenwood Springs

Gov. Jared Polis speaks with Garfield County resident Roger Ben Wilson during a stop in Glenwood Springs on Thursday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Gov. Jared Polis’ campaign trail brought him to Tequila’s Mexican Restaurant in Glenwood Springs on Thursday evening, where he spent time fielding questions from local leaders and activists.

Polis, running for his second term as Colorado governor, was in the midst of a three-day swing, hitting 22 stops throughout the Centennial State.

Topics of discussion included housing, child care services, a need for more Spanish translators and educator recruitment and retention.

He also highlighted how the state responded to catastrophes like COVID-19, wildfires and the Glenwood Canyon debris slides from summer 2021.

“Amidst all that, I’ve really been so impressed to see the great resilience of the people of Colorado,” Polis said.

The past three years for Garfield County under Polis’ leadership has seen a whirlwind of major events. Eighty nine residents have died from COVID-19, while the Grizzly Creek Fire and ensuing debris slides exacerbated commutes and economic hardship.

And as the cost of living rises, the average sales price for a single-family home in Garfield County continues to hover near $660,000.

Polis’ administration has responded to housing inflation by asking whether the state should do more to push more construction of affordable housing units.

“We’re working very aggressively to partner with cities and counties to create more housing close to where jobs are in a thoughtful, planned way, so that we’re not putting more traffic on the roads, so that we’re not adding more pollution to the air,” Polis said. “We’re excited to help communities like Glenwood have more affordable housing, close to where the jobs are — which is particularly challenging in the high country.”

Garfield County’s high cost of housing and living has also led to challenges in recruiting and retaining educational staff for school districts. The Roaring Fork School district just passed a mill levy override to be used to source up an extra $7.7 million to increase teacher salaries.

On the other end of Garfield County, the Garfield Re-2 district is currently trying to make healthcare packages more affordable.

Polis said the education budget currently put forth by the state is a “record increase.”

It’s close to a 9% increase,” he said. “What that means, it’s about a $13,000 increase for a class of 25 students.”

Polis also touched on other ways the state is trying to bolster education.

“In addition to the increase of 9% of the School Finance Act, we’re separately sending another $90 million to school districts for special education,” Polis said. “So distributed according to special education counts to meet the needs of our learners that have special needs.”

Gov. Jared Polis addresses constituents during a stop in Glenwood Springs on Thursday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Local Spanish interpreter Jen Quevedo also asked Polis what he’s doing at the state level to offer more Spanish language access throughout institutions, like schools and police departments.

“Our hospitals don’t have interpretation,” she said. “The nonprofits that are accepting money from federal grants don’t have access to interpretation. Counties, municipalities, they don’t have proper interpretation.”

Polis said the state created in 2019 the New Americans Initiative, which employs Coloradans who arrived in the US as immigrants or their children, according to the website.

“They work especially with people who are arrivals over the last couple of decades,” he said. “And so that’s probably our point person on linguistic issues, and I’ll have her reach out to you.”

Local attorney Karl Hanlon asked about health care and how Polis plans to reduce costs for small businesses policies.

Polis, who signed into law new health insurance policies that aim to keep premiums lower for individual and small group markets, said this Colorado Reinsurance Program helps save money for people who either don’t get insurance through their employer.

“The latest thing that we did was the Colorado Options Policy, which includes the small group markets. What the Colorado Public Option does is, it will reduce rates about 15% in the small group market over the next couple years.”

Election for the Colorado governors’ race is Nov. 8.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com

Vail’s Kerry Donovan suspends campaign against Lauren Boebert

Kerry Donovan, who has a residence in Vail and a family ranch near Edwards, faced a steep challenge to unseat Lauren Boebert in Colorado’s sprawling, red-leaning 3rd Congressional District.
Dave Zalubowski/AP

Kerry Donovan, the leading Democratic challenger for Lauren Boebert’s seat in Colorado’s sprawling 3rd Congressional District, announced Friday morning that she is suspending her campaign as a result of Colorado’s new congressional map.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to earn the support of Coloradans and Americans from all walks of life, and I cannot express my gratitude for each and every person who stepped up to help our campaign. With over 60,000 contributions and an average donation of less than $25, we built a grassroots movement that crossed the continental divide, party lines and ideological differences,” Donovan said in a statement. “We built one of the most powerful campaigns in the country, bringing together tens of thousands of people dedicated to standing up for our democracy and bridging divides to solve the problems our nation faces.”

Donovan, who has a residence in Vail and a family ranch near Edwards, already faced a steep challenge to unseat Boebert in the far-flung, red-leaning district. The state’s redistricting of Colorado’s eight congressional districts only pushed Boebert’s advantage by pushing Donovan into the 2nd Congressional District. Donovan had already suspended fundraising for her campaign last month after the state’s independent congressional redistricting commission approved the new map before submitting it to the Colorado Supreme Court for final approval.

The new map puts most of the Eagle River Valley in the 2nd Congressional District — leaving Dotsero and a few other random slivers isolated in the 3rd Congressional District with El Jebel and Basalt in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Previously, the Eagle River Valley was more evenly split between the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts with the boundary falling in the Avon/EagleVail area. Congressional representatives don’t have to live in the district they represent, according to federal law, just the state their district is in.

Donovan’s departure leaves a host of other Democrats who will be vying for the party’s nomination to run for the 3rd District seat next year, including Glenwood Springs attorney Colin Wilhelm.

“This campaign was about standing up to hateful and divisive leadership and making sure that the West, which has big problems to solve, was represented by someone who would fight for us, not a headline,” Donovan said. “While each $15 check in the mail with a memo ‘We believe in you’ or $20 donation at a meet and greet made me more committed by the day, the congressional maps failed to recognize the complexity of rural Colorado and instead divided communities, protected incumbents, and ignored Coloradans’ voices. As a result, there is no viable path forward for me to remain in this race, and I have made the decision to suspend my campaign for Congress.”

There was no reaction from Boebert on either of her Twitter accounts to the news of Donovan all but exiting the race. The congresswoman based out of Garfield County was generating headlines, however, for a post she shared on Twitter on Thursday night showing her wearing a red dress with the phrase “Let’s go, Brandon” while posing next to former President Donald Trump.

The phrase has become a rallying cry for Republicans in recent weeks as a snub to Joe Biden and his administration.

“It’s not a phrase, it’s a movement,” Boebert wrote in the tweet.

Colorado ballot questions: State voters reject 3 questions on fiscal matters

Colorado voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to increase taxes on recreational marijuana to pay for out-of-school support services for students like tutoring and therapy.

Supporters of Proposition 119 admitted defeat at about 8:30 p.m. As of 10:20 p.m., the measure was failing with 54.37% rejecting the initiative and 45.63% in support with 1,087,157 ballots counted.

The mood at the Maven Hotel in downtown Denver, where about 50 supporters for Proposition 119 held the official Yes on 119 watch party, was hopeful around 7 p.m. as attendees sipped drinks and nibbled on hors d’oeuvres while watching early results trickle in. But the mood began to fade after 8 p.m. as the measure looked increasingly unlikely to succeed. Few supporters remained by 8:30 p.m.

Judy Solano, a Democratic former state representative and retired school teacher who helped lead the opposition, said she was “thrilled that the voters were smart enough to realize that creating a huge new bureaucracy to take care of one issue in education… would have been a very expensive and unnecessary thing to do.”

She thinks voters “saw through” supporters’ arguments and decided “we have to properly fund our schools before we do anything else.”

For more on this story from The Colorado Sun click here.

Proposition 120

An effort to reduce some property taxes in Colorado was failing by a wide margin Tuesday night in what would ultimately be a stinging defeat for conservatives who have increasingly turned to ballot measures to advance their policies as their candidates keep losing.

The vote for Proposition 120 as of 10:20 p.m. was 56.66% in opposition to the ballot measure and 43.34% in favor.

Proposition 120 would have reduce the property tax assessment rates for multifamily residential properties to 6.5% from 7.15% starting in 2022. It also would drop the rate for lodging properties to 26.4% from 29% under Proposition 120.

Proponents of the measure said a property tax reduction for multifamily housing could reduce rents and encourage investment to ease the state’s housing shortage. Lower property taxes for lodging properties may allow businesses to expand and hire more employees.

Opponents argued that slashing property taxes might result in cuts to government services, including for schools and fire departments that rely on property tax revenue to operate.

For more on this story from The Colorado Sun click here.

Amendment 78

A conservative-backed Colorado ballot measure seeking to give state lawmakers more oversight over how certain non-state funding sources are spent appeared headed for defeat Tuesday.

The vote for Amendment 78 as of 10:20 p.m. was 43.79% in favor and 56.21% against, according to 1 million ballots counted. The early results are incomplete, but the constitutional amendment would need approval from 55% of voters to pass.

The Colorado General Assembly has an appropriation process to decide how state tax revenue is spent each year, but certain non-state sources like federal grant money, private donations and other “custodial funds” from outside the state government aren’t subject to that process.

For example, the $1.7 billion in federal relief dollars that Colorado received last year from the CARES Act wasn’t subject to the legislative appropriation process. It was spent by Gov. Jared Polis’ office through an executive order, angering Republicans who complained they were left out of the decision making.

Proponents of the ballot measure say it would provide greater transparency and accountability to state spending by requiring lawmakers to determine how the state spends custodial money, which could affect federal emergency relief and grant dollars, money from legal settlements, funding for transportation projects that are currently allocated by an independent commission and private gifts and donations, like those collected by public colleges and universities.

For more on this story from The Colorado Sun click here.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Wolf reintroduction passes by slim margin as opposition concedes

DENVER — Colorado’s wildlife agency said Thursday it considers a ballot initiative to reintroduce the gray wolf into the state to have passed after a group that opposes the initiative conceded the race and the agency consulted with the office of Gov. Jared Polis.

An announcement by Colorado Parks and Wildlife that it would begin planning for an eventual restoration of wolves in the state came with the initiative leading — with thousands of ballots still uncounted — and after another group opposed to the initiative said it was not conceding.

Two opposition groups, Coloradans Protecting Wildlife and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, issued statements Thursday saying it appeared that the initiative would succeed.

CPW spokeswoman Rebecca Ferrell said the wildlife agency, which had assiduously avoided taking any position on the initiative, issued its statement after consulting with the governor’s office.

“We had been holding, but with the Coloradans Protecting Wildlife concession this afternoon, along with the deluge of requests for comment, the Governor’s Office decided it was prudent to move forward with the statement sent,” Ferrell said an an email.

An email and telephone call seeking comment late Thursday from Polis’ office weren’t immediately returned.

“Nothing is final until the Secretary of State certifies the election results, but at this time, we believe the measure will pass. So yes, this is a concession from our campaign,” said Patrick Pratt, deputy campaign manager for Coloradans Protecting Wildlife.

Janie VanWinkle, president of the cattlemen’s association, said the group “remains committed to ensuring real science” guides wildlife policy and wolf reintroduction.

Other groups opposing wolf reintroduction didn’t concede. A top opposition group, the Colorado Stop the Wolf Coalition, said it was actively monitoring the vote count and will seek to fix any “no” votes rejected by elections officials because of signature discrepancies or other reasons, said Ted Harvey, campaign director for the Stop the Wolf PAC issue committee.

Colorado’s election results must be certified by Nov. 30. By late Thursday, the “yes” vote led the “no” vote by roughly 26,000 ballots out of more than 3 million counted — well above a threshold for triggering a mandatory recount.

Voters in metropolitan Denver and Boulder counties, who won’t be directly affected by any reintroduction, strongly supported the initiative, with rural voters casting ballots against it.

Supporters say it’s the first time that voters, rather than government scientists, are deciding whether to reintroduce the wolf, which once ranged across most of the U.S. before being hunted to near-extinction.

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, which sponsored the initiative, said Thursday it believed the initiative had passed because votes yet to be counted in metropolitan areas east of the Divide would produce a formal “Yes” vote.

“This isn’t about the margin of victory,” said Rob Edward, head of the fund’s campaign. “Now it’s time to get on with the hard work of fashioning a future for the wolves that we coexist with.”

Proposition 114 would direct state wildlife officials to develop a plan to reintroduce wolves, once hunted into near-extinction, on public land west of the Continental Divide in Colorado before 2024. Ranchers, business chambers and rural governments strongly opposed the initiative, saying it would threaten livestock and Colorado’s lucrative hunting industry for elk and deer, key prey for the wolf.

Asked if any reintroduction process could trigger litigation, Pratt, of Coloradans Protecting Wildlife, said: “We have not ruled out any available options at this time.”

The gray wolf has been successfully restored in several U.S. states, including in Idaho and in Yellowstone National Park 25 years ago. Because of government-sponsored hunting, trapping and poisoning, the wolf disappeared in Colorado in the 1940s.

Proponents argue that reintroducing wolves would restore balance to an ecosystem severely altered in their absence by oversized big game herds.

About 6,000 gray wolves live in the Northern Rockies, the Pacific Northwest and the Western Great Lakes regions.