Ballot initiative: Give people a chance to vote
By Jake Brady. Also published as a "Letter to the Editor" in the Daily Camera on July 20, 2020.
The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance states that “direct democracy mechanisms such as referendums, citizens’ initiatives, agenda initiatives, and recall votes reinforce the fundamental principle of democratic self governance, provide a check on the tendency of representatives to become disconnected from their electors, and can enhance the popular legitimacy underpinning key political decisions.”
For these reasons, among others, I urge the City Council to place the “Bedrooms Are For People” initiative on the 2020 ballot. Citizens’ initiatives are a direct result of work carried out by activists during the progressive era. We must honor this legacy by doing everything in our power to allow the voice of the people to be heard this fall. The words and votes of multiple City Council members over the past few months are antithetical to the alleged progressive spirit of Boulder.
As a renter, I do not often see my interests reflected in the decisions of our city’s legislative body. The personal stories I have heard while collecting signatures – tales of illegal living situations, evictions, homelessness, and overall suffering – have moved me in ways I did not expect.
No matter your personal opinion on the topic of occupancy limits, though, “Bedrooms Are For People” deserves its place on the ballot. The City Council has a choice: It can either take the recommendation of City Attorney Tom Carr to “use its own power to refer any petition that hits its signature threshold to voters” or deny the will of thousands of Boulderites who have signed our petition thus far.
In many situations, I am an advocate for nuanced thinking. In this case, the issue is black and white, similar to the inked paper that thousands of passionate citizens have signed their name to over these past few months.