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Mulhall column: Real election malaise

Mitch Mulhall

It’s the day after the election, and I once again find myself on the wrong side.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty used to this. It’s as though a majority of voters could look to me to know how not to vote, or so it seems.



This election, however, I wasn’t just wrong about this race or that ballot measure. I pretty much blew the curve backing losers.

Someone has to do it.



To some on the political left, the way I voted in Tuesday’s election is unlovingly called “being on the wrong side of history.” It’s a lot like being on the schnide — 0 points in a sporting event — but somewhat worse as it calls into question not one’s athletic prowess, but judgment.

Of course, Colorado’s ballot looked better for Democrats than most other states.

The governor’s race was a lock from the outset. Governor Polis never even trailed in the polls. If the final tally puts him up big, don’t be surprised to see Polis’ name mentioned for the 2024 presidential nomination.

The same lopsided odds were mostly true for Senator Michael Bennet. Compared to the gubernatorial race, that U.S. Senate race seemed like it might be competitive, though realistically Joe O’Dea never really came close to unseating Bennet.

The 3rd District House race was more intriguing. The challenger Adam Frisch battled controversy and Wednesday seemed to have eked out a sliver-thin victory. By Thursday, however, incumbent Lauren Boebert was up by about 800 votes.

So much for the red wave, at least in Colorado.

But of particular interest to me was local ballot measure 2C, which as of this writing is passing by nearly 400 votes. I watched 2C’s tally with chin-rubbing interest.

2C is a lodging tax for affordable housing. Among political issues, affordable housing was a darling this election.

In addition to 2C, state-wide Proposition 123 is passing, and it too sets aside taxes for affordable housing. Other local ballot measures similar to Glenwood’s 2C showed up on the ballots of nearby communities.

The number of affordable housing measures underscores not just the popularity of the issue, but also the gravity of Colorado’s affordable housing problem.

In Colorado, perhaps more so than many other states, property values badly outpace income. Consequently, lower-income and fresh-to-the workforce employees find it difficult if not impossible to live in the communities where they work. And that’s just for starters.

Apart from the scenery and recreational opportunities, little about Colorado living is advantageous.

What made the affordable housing issue interesting to me is the last election — you know, the referendum in which Glenwood voters had the opportunity to overturn a City Council decision to support a Glenwood landowner’s attempt to help allay some of our local affordable housing problems?

After Glenwood City Council approved an annexation and rezoning of what was called the 480 Donegan project last November, opposition mounted, petitions circulated, and signatures amassed. In the end, Ballot Question B asked us whether to repeal Council’s decision to support the project.

B passed, and so did a Glenwood family’s right to develop their land as they saw fit.

Fast forward to the 2022 mid-term ballot and Glenwood’s local 2C measure — a lodging tax that will set aside lodging funds to solve the affordable housing problem and create a “Workforce Housing Fund Advisory Board” like the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority (APCHA) — an unelected bureaucracy with a mandate to spend taxes to solve housing affordability.

You can decide for yourself how effective APCHA efforts have been in solving up-valley housing affordability.

The result will be similar here.

I find it astonishing that local voters rejected an individual landowner’s attempt to help meet local affordable housing needs, but then turned around and voted to entrust local government to tax lodging and oversee an advisory board charged with solving the affordable housing problem.

To the extent 2C reflects the local voting public’s conscience, perhaps it’s fair to say those of us who live in Glenwood collectively prefer to hand over the tough problems to government, even though that means expanded government power, increased bureaucracy and decreased individual rights.

I’ve never found big government an appealing choice, nationally or locally. Yet that’s what I see in 2C — tacit approval of local government expansion.

Not to worry, however. I am, after all, on the wrong side of history.

Educators interested in innovating student STEM education through iMec may email me at mitch.mulhall@gmail.com.


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