The ACLU of Colorado’s statewide Voter Guide provides Colorado voters with critical information about civil rights and civil liberties issues that are on the ballot this election. We hope voters will use this guide to learn more about the power that various elected officials have to protect and extend civil rights and civil liberties. ACLU of Colorado is a non-partisan organization, and we do not endorse any candidate or political party.
WHAT'S ON THE BALLOT
Issues at stake
Local elections for city government have a big impact on daily life and are a huge opportunity to fight for change in housing and public safety.
City government and local representatives are more accessible to the public – their jurisdictions are smaller and geographically closer to their constituents. City government can affect more than just the city – cities can create safe havens against rollbacks on rights and set policy precedent that pushes change on the state level.
The mayor and city council are not law enforcement themselves, but they play a critical role in oversight through their powers over funding and regulation. Overcrowding in jails and the criminalization of poverty can be directly addressed through city government. Here are some examples:
- City council proposes bills that limits court related fines and fees
- City council increases funding to social service alternatives to the police
- Mayor appoints a Police Chief and Director of Public Safety
- Mayor sets a budget that invests more resources in anti-crime strategies that invest in communities rather than more police
Housing Rights & Affordability
City governments have power over housing via executive orders and budget-setting from the mayor, legislation from the city council, and programs and services from city agencies. Here are examples:
- Mayor sets a budget that allocates funding to support transitional housing.
- Mayor creates an executive order to stop their police department from conducting sweeps of people experiencing houselessness.
- City council repeals laws so people experiencing housing insecurity aren’t ticketed for sleeping or sharing food in public spaces.
- City council passes legislation to provide legal representation for people facing eviction.
Local elected officials play a key role in protecting civil rights in Colorado. Life-altering decisions on housing access, racial justice, criminal justice reform, and LGTBQ+ rights are often made by local elected leaders. While the decisions that are made by Congress in DC may feel far away and irrelevant, the decisions made by city representatives in city hall affect our daily lives – from housing affordability and public safety to garbage disposal and recreation centers. Races for city government are nonpartisan and ballots do not list party affiliation.
As the leader of the executive branch in a strong-mayor system, the city’s mayor has significant power to veto, set budget, and appointment agency leaders. Mayors often hold relationships and can even collaborate with mayors from other cities in the state or across the country to consult on issues.
The legislative branch of city government creates or amends policies. City council convenes committees that focus on different issues and agencies, such as transportation, housing, and safety. City council also holds town halls and opportunities for public testimony on proposed legislation.
At-large: At large city council members represent the entire city. All voters in the city vote in these races.
District Council: District council members represent a specific, defined area within the city. Districts can cover different neighborhoods, incomes, and ethnicities but each is equal in population.
ACLU of Colorado takes positions on ballot measures that directly impact civil rights and civil liberties issues. ACLU of Colorado is not taking positions on the local ballot measures on the Denver and Colorado Springs ballot this spring.
How to Vote in Colorado
The 2023 Local Election is here for voters in Denver and Colorado Springs. All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on April 7, 2023. Return your ballot at a drop box or a voting center in your county.
Drop box locations: