John Tayer: Prognostication pontification — 2016 election predictions

Just as a baseball enthusiast might want to tell you how they knew the Cubbies would come from behind to win the World Series, the political junkie in me can’t help but share my predictions for the 2016 election.  So, from my couch on this beautiful first Monday in November, here’s my best guess …

I note that I wonder aloud, as so many of you, if The Donald’s brand of polemics will have sufficient appeal to carry him beyond the reliably red states.  Or will the albatross of Hillary’s personal emails drive away those who otherwise would support the first woman nominated as a presidential candidate from a major political party.  I have my suspicions, but this column is about local issues, and I will focus there.  And, to be clear, this is not a vote for or against a particular issue or candidate, and the perspective I offer does not represent endorsements of the Boulder Chamber.

First, let’s discuss the Boulder County Commissioner’s race between Paul Danish and Deb Gardner.  Paul probably presents the greatest known threat to the current Democratic domination amongst Boulder County Commissioners in recent times.  He has high name recognition with long-time voters.  He also likely has cross-over appeal to some traditional Democratic voters based on his historic ties to Boulder’s early growth-control measures, still referred to as the “Danish Plan,” and frustration over subdivision road maintenance.  Deb’s voting record, though, typically aligns with traditional Boulder County Democratic values, and the heavy turn-out of those who will vote a straight Democratic ticket should be enough to give her a comfortable victory.

I’m going to go out on a limb here — a pretty sturdy limb, though, knowing that Boulder County voters, and city of Boulder voters in particular, rarely decline the opportunity to tax themselves — and predict that almost every local tax initiative will pass.  That means we will be paying higher property taxes to keep our school system amongst the best.  We also will tax ourselves for more open space and to amplify Boulder County’s investment in sustainability programming.

Our residents have enjoyed the advantages of similar previous investments and don’t seem inclined to turn the spigot off yet.  The one area where I predict a disparity in this traditional tax-support ethos is with the countywide road maintenance tax, where even many folks who would most benefit from the funding oppose the initiative.  Finally, in one new zone of taxation that I know is hard to swallow for many of my business community colleagues, I am pretty sure city of Boulder voters will approve a tax on sugary drinks.  The perception of health consciousness is the likely driver here, along with a likely overwhelming Democratic vote count that tends to favor the application of such “sin taxes.”

My final prediction, and one where I admit a little less confidence, is the City Council Term Limits initiative.  Though I can’t find any specific evidence of it, I sense that many city of Boulder voters still tie a general distaste for term limits to its prominent place in the mid-1990’s Republican “Contract With America.”  We’ve also voted numerous times to expand term limits for Boulder County office holders, and a few influential voices in the community have spoken out against the initiative.  Still, it feels to this observer that we are experiencing a period of voter discontent with the state of affairs in this community, which might suggest a “throw the bums out” instinct in line with term limits, and the initiative’s chief proponent, Open Boulder, has spent large sums to make its case.  In a close vote, I predict Boulder voters will put a lid on City Council terms. 

So that’s my call.  As someone who follows the twists and turns of the local political environment closely, I am just as certain I could be all wrong in my predictions … and because you will be reading this a day or so after the elections, let the cat-calls begin.  Most important, as many have observed, the level of vitriol during this campaign season has been unprecedented for modern elections.  That is why, whether your candidate or initiative wins or loses, I ask you to keep in mind that we are fortunate to live in a county where we hash out our differences through free and fair elections.  In that, we are all winners.

John Tayer is president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber. He can be reached at 303-442-1058 or via email at john.tayer@boulderchamber.com.

Just as a baseball enthusiast might want to tell you how they knew the Cubbies would come from behind to win the World Series, the political junkie in me can’t help but share my predictions for the 2016 election.  So, from my couch on this beautiful first Monday in November, here’s my best guess …

I note that I wonder aloud, as so many of you, if The Donald’s brand of polemics will have sufficient appeal to carry him beyond the reliably red states.  Or will the albatross of Hillary’s personal emails drive away those who otherwise would support the first woman nominated as a presidential candidate from a major political party.  I have my suspicions, but this column is about local issues, and I will focus there.  And, to be clear, this is not a vote for or against a particular issue or candidate, and the perspective I offer does not represent endorsements of the Boulder Chamber.

First, let’s discuss the Boulder County Commissioner’s race between Paul Danish and Deb Gardner.  Paul probably presents the greatest known threat to the current Democratic domination amongst Boulder County Commissioners in recent times.  He has high name recognition with long-time voters.  He also likely has cross-over appeal to some traditional Democratic voters based on his historic ties to Boulder’s early growth-control measures, still referred to as the “Danish Plan,” and frustration over subdivision road maintenance.  Deb’s voting record, though, typically…