The 2017 election has been both more tumultuous and less without a statewide ballot initiative to drive the election forward. But that also means that money and other resources (like angst) are concentrated in localities, pitting neighbor against neighbor in high-stakes campaigns like school board and anti-fracking measures. Here are our top three races to watch, plus a few bonus races that could be interesting.
Douglas County School Board
This is by far the most contentious and nationally important of the races. At issue is control of the Douglas County School Board. Normally, this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but the Douglas County School District is the defendant in a lawsuit (btw, angry school board candidate Kevin Leung is the plaintiff) due to its Choice Scholarship program (or vouchers).
The GOP-backed slate, Randy Mills, Ryan Abresch, Debora Scheffel, and Grant Nelson, have committed to seeing the case to its conclusion. On the other hand, the Douglas County Democrat-backed slate has promised to stop the lawsuit. Weird right? If Leung initiated the lawsuit (with the help of the ACLU, of course), shouldn’t he want a final ruling? Nonetheless, this race has gotten ugly due to the insane amount of cash the American Federation of Teachers has thrown into the race. While Douglas County is a red county, the union has worked hard to build an infrastructure through a group called Douglas County Parents. It’s anyone’s guess how this race will turn out.
Question 301 (Broomfield)
Broomfield 301 is meant to kill oil and natural gas development in Broomfield. It sets a new standard for environmental litigation and would set a precedent of kicking companies we “don’t like” out of municipalities. In addition, it would draw an expensive lawsuit from the oil and natural gas industry because it would pre-empt state regulation of oil and gas. But that didn’t deter out of state radical environmentalists from plowing ahead with this foolish pursuit.
Denver County School Board
Denver County School Board race is the ill-behaved, better funded step-sibling of Douglas County. It’s a clash between school choice proponents and union activists with a lot of money sprinkled in. The mudslinging has ranged from who really has the support of black leaders in Denver to whether or not the Denver Democrats endorsed (they didn’t). On the reform-ish side (meh, they’re Democrats) is Barbara O’Brien, Sochi Gaytan, Mike Johnson, and Rachele Espiritu. On the union side is Robert Speth, Angela Cobian, and Jennifer Bacon and Tay Anderson (Anderson and Bacon are in a three-way race with Espiritu).
The nastiness in this race stems largely from the fracture in the Democratic Party over education reform. The left wing of the Democratic Party supports embraces the pro-union candidates and the centrist wing of the Democratic Party supports education reform.
Either way, come 7:05 p.m., these races should be fairly settled and, then, we can move on to the scorched earth of 2018.