November 2013 Election Update

November 7, 2013
William Mutch Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy

William Mutch
Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy

Election Update

From the state perspective, the headline issue is the education funding Amendment 66 and how the failure of Amendment 66 — 64.9% NO to 35.0% YES — will frame the next legislative session? Will the message be that Colorado is a more conservative state (at least on tax issues) than reflected by the legislature? Was it the campaign message or the details of the legislation, a flawed campaign, the spokespeople, or the general attitude of the voting public? Each of these theories will certainly find their legislative adherents during the next session and there will be efforts to tie the defeat to referendums on the Governor’s performance, and other issues such as taxes and economic development – as well as the public appetite for education reform itself. The YES campaign used education programs, classroom sizes, and other issues to sell the benefits of the campaign, but there was little effort to explain the additional education reforms that would be attached to these tax increases. The opponents also were effective in their questioning of the initiative as a backfill for PERA and as a $950 million dollar a year fund that had few controls on how the funds could be spent, as well as raising questions about how the tax increases on wealthier Coloradans would affect economic development. How will this issue reverberate into the next legislative session? That will remain to be seen. However, as previous legislatures and Governors recovered from policy failures at the ballot (such as the largely grassroots effort that derailed Referendum A, a statewide water bonding initiative in 2003 under Governor Bill Owens) the massive vote against Amendment 66, and the opposition of business organizations such as Colorado Concern and the Regional Business Alliance, certainly carries a message that grassroots campaigns can be effective — even when organized against well fielded campaigns headed by the state’s elected leaders. As in the past water policy debate that failed to gain state voter support, we might expect to see the Governor appoint a task force on education reform or to find areas where there was bipartisan support for certain education concepts included in the legislation and urge their passage in his State-of-the-State address. In the meantime, separate reform pieces from the amendment are already being discussed for the session by legislators in both parties. As was mentioned back in 2003, this week’s education message could be as simple as the voters rejecting an education “blank check.”

Here are the results of our HBA supported candidates in Tuesday’s election:

City of Fountain Endorsements:

Gabriel Ortega will be the new Mayor of Fountain, defeating HBA supported Sharon Brown for the City’s top office. Two new City Council members, endorsed by HBA, will be joining the new Mayor (Sharon Thompson from Ward 1 and Sam Gieck from Ward 3) with incumbent at-large Councilman Sam Heckman’s race still undecided. Greg Lauer currently leads Heckman by 7 votes, but provisional and military ballots are yet to be counted and could affect the outcome of the race. As a result, Heckman has not yet conceded the election and a recount remains a possibility under discussion. The previous Council approved a series of development fee increases by a vote of 4 – 3, and the outcome of this election could set the tone of the new Council concerning growth and development. Councilman Heckman also received the HBA endorsement.

School District 49

In School District 49, all three of the HBA endorsed candidates were elected to the School Board including: President Tammy Harold, Kevin Butcher, and David Moore. Each of these candidates ran at-large.

School District 11

In District 11, two HBA endorsed candidates (Al Loma and Charlie Bobbitt) were defeated, while a third HBA endorsed candidate, Luann Long, was returned to office. Luann Long will be joined on the Board by Jim Mason and Linda Mojer.

School District 2

In District 2, each of the HBA endorsed candidates were elected to the School Board. Eileen Gonzalez, who also serves as the Administrator to the Colorado Springs City Council, was reelected to a 2-year term, while Joyce Leigh, Doriena Longmire, and Steve Seibert, were each elected to 4-year terms. Steve Seibert prevailed over Ryan Thompson by just 6 votes, so that race could also receive additional scrutiny before the final outcome is decided.

School District 20

School District 20 reelected two HBA endorsed candidates, returning President Linda Van Matre and Secretary Catherine Bullock to the Board, along with newly elected Larry Borland. Mr. Borland also received the HBA endorsement.

School District 38 – One Seat Open

In the final district where HBA made an endorsement, John Magerko was reelected without opposition.

For questions, please contact:

William D. Mutch
Director, Government Affairs/Public Policy
Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs
4585 Hilton Parkway, Suite 100
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
phone:  719-592-1800, ext 16

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Homebuilding Industry is the Community’s Real Families, Jobs

April 26, 2011
Reposted from The Gazette

Kyle Campbell, 2011 HBA President

KYLE CAMPBELL
GUEST COLUMNIST

Last November the voters of Colorado Springs approved by a large margin a new city charter to change the city form of government from a council-manager form to a council-mayor form.  The new mayor to be elected in the May runoff election will be the chief executive officer of the city with enhanced powers and responsibilities.

The debate between the candidates in the May election should be focused on the many troubling issues facing our city and region, including unemployment, attracting new businesses and jobs and maintaining essential city services. Initial comments by the candidates reflected a desire to run clean and honest campaigns.  The hopes of that being realized through the runoff election have been officially dashed with the latest Richard Skorman campaign ad that aired for the first time on the April 20. The ad states, “If we give developers the keys to City Hall we’ll get more sprawl, traffic congestion and neglected neighborhoods.”

Really? Is this where this election is now descending?  The Skorman ad includes a series of sounds bites and flashes of rooftops, traffic on I-25, the scar on the mountain and claims of sprawl.  Today’s voters have far more serious issues on their minds like paying bills and providing for their families.  With an unemployment rate in the range of 9.5 percent, the residents of our community have more pressing concerns than growth.  The homebuilding industry and the jobs created thereby provide important jobs, and the health of the homebuilding industry is a key indicator of the economic health of a community as has been illustrated by the depressed state of homebuilding.  Plus there are human consequences to the depressed state of the homebuilding industry.  There’s nothing like seeing your friends and neighbors laid off from their jobs such as framers, painters, landscapers, consultants and sales associates, to see how homebuilding and development are significant and important parts of any economy.  Thousands of jobs have not only been lost in the industry, but also in the supporting employment bases like restaurants and retail.

Sprawl might have been a catchy phrase years ago before the economic downturn, but the realities of existing government regulation, oversight and approvals have now been recognized as impediments to the positive realities of growth and development, job stability, job growth and tax base.  Around the country and here, municipalities are looking at ways to streamline the development and building process in an effort to revitalize a key economic engine for recovery: homebuilding.  The local debate on sprawl by Skorman is contradictory to the national movement of encouraging growth and development.

And by the way, I live only two miles from the last image of sprawl shown in the ad, in a neighborhood of the rooftops surrounded by neighbors that I care for, parks and open space within walking distance and the excitement of more new business and attractions opening in the  near future.  I chose to live there and don’t appreciate the negative connotations the ad attaches to the environment in which I chose to raise my family.  That “sprawl” of which Skorman complains consists of homes just like mine, in communities just like mine, where real people raise their families, go to jobs, attend schools and contribute to the vibrancy of the community.

After the disappointment wears off of realizing that one of the candidates appears to be abandoning the desired discussions of what is best for the city and where we need to be heading as a community, you have one chance to send a strong message that this is not a topic relevant to this time and place — vote for Steve Bach.    —

Kyle Campbell is President of the Housing &  Building Association of Colorado Springs.


Politics Could Limit How Much Lame Duck Congress Accomplishes

November 5, 2010

As the 111th Congress prepares to reconvene on Nov. 15 in a post-election lame-duck session to complete unfinished business on an omnibus appropriations package to fund the government in fiscal year 2011 and to work on extending the expiring Bush tax cuts, lawmakers are already looking ahead to a vastly changed political landscape.

Just four years after the Democrats swept into power in both chambers of Congress, Republicans handily recaptured control of the House and made major gains in the Senate on election night.

With Democrats still in control of the White House and no party anywhere near a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, it remains to be seen if the 112th Congress will be marked by total gridlock or whether the two sides can find room to compromise on the issues of the day.

In any case, NAHB will be reaching out to every member of Congress to educate them about the association’s legislative priorities and build bipartisan support wherever possible.

Needing to capture a minimum of 218 House seats to gain control of the chamber, Republicans on Nov. 2 won at least 240 seats, a net gain of 61, with eight races still too close to call. Democrats dropped from 255 House seats prior to the election down to 187 seats.

By a narrow margin of 53 to 47, Senate Democrats remain in power despite losing six seats to Republicans – Rep. John Boozman (Ark.) and Ron Jon Johnson (Wis.) ousted incumbents, while Dan Coats (Ind.), North Dakota Governor John Hoeven (N.D.), Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) won open seats.

The GOP’s bid to wrest control of the chamber fell short when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) held off a stiff challenge from Republican Sharron Angle and Democrats Chris Coons and Joe Manchin won open seats in Delaware and West Virginia.

The official tally is 51 Democrats and 47 Republicans, with Independents Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.) aligning themselves with the Democratic caucus.

One Senate race is still too close to call. In Alaska, Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski lost her primary bid to challenger Joe Miller and ran for office in a write-in campaign. Murkowski is currently leading Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams is running a distant third, guaranteeing that whoever prevails will caucus with the Republicans.

Republicans also posted huge gains in the 37 gubernatorial elections, picking up seven statehouse seats for a 29-to-18 majority, with one Independent. Two races in Connecticut and Minnesota have still not been decided. This year’s governor’s races played an especially important role given the executive control of the states in the 2010 federal redistricting process.

BUILD-PAC, NAHB’s political action committee, contributed to 27 Senate races, winning 23 of them for an 85% success rate. In the House of Representatives, BUILD-PAC-supported candidates won 286 of 328 races for a winning percentage of 87%.  BUILD-PAC is also involved in a few races that are still too close to call. Overall, BUILD-PAC won 309 of 355 decisive races, for an 87% success rate.

Builders also had reason to celebrate the outcomes of several important ballot initiatives decided on Tuesday. For example, in Florida, Amendment 4 was resoundingly defeated. Known as the Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment, this measure would have required a taxpayer-funded referendum for all changes to local government comprehensive land-use plans. It failed by a 67% to 33% margin. Other wins were scored in Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah, where anti-“card check” ballot measures related to unionization efforts were passed, and in Colorado, where builder-opposed measures including Amendment 60, Amendment 61 and Proposition 101 all went down in defeat.

The post-election session of Congress is tentatively scheduled to run during the weeks of Nov. 15 and Nov. 29

An Uncertain Lame Duck Agenda

While funding the federal government and expiring tax cuts are the top priorities, scores of other items may potentially be on the agenda. However, it often turns out that little gets accomplished in lame duck sessions, particularly when one party wins control of one or both chambers of Congress, as occurred during this election. With political tempers frayed and many Democrats having just lost their jobs, it is uncertain how productive this post-election session will be.

Nevertheless, lawmakers face a mountain of unfinished business. They must choose whether to tackle several contentious issues such as whether to provide a temporary “patch” for the Alternative Minimum Tax, extend a host of popular tax breaks that expired last December but are usually renewed annually, give seniors a special $250 Social Security payment, extend unemployment benefits and reimburse physician Medicare payments. Action on these and many other outstanding issues may be deferred to the incoming Congress.

Meanwhile, NAHB’s top priority is restoring credit for housing production and that will be the association’s main focus as the lame duck session of Congress resumes. Shortly before adjourning to campaign for the midterm elections, lawmakers passed legislation that will provide $30 billion in capital to community banks to expand small business lending. Unfortunately, the fund established under the law does not allow for construction loans to be made to small builders.

Through intensive lobbying and grassroots efforts among the NAHB federation, the House moved rapidly to rectify the situation. It approved H.R. 6191, legislation that allows small home building firms equal access to the new lending fund. H.R. 6191 was also introduced in the Senate, but the chamber adjourned on Sept. 29 before the bill could come to a vote.

During the lame duck session, NAHB will do all in its power to urge the Senate to approve H.R. 6191 to help the industry to rebound, create jobs and move the economy forward.

Looking forward to the 112th Congress, NAHB will be reaching out to both sides of the political aisle to seek additional solutions to the current lending crisis and urge Congress to call on federal banking regulators to reduce regulatory restrictions on acquisition, development and construction credit and rein in overzealous bank examiners.

To read H.R. 6191, click here and enter the bill number in the box at the center of the page.

For more information, contact Jenna Hamilton at 800-368-5242, x8407.


Election in Brief

November 3, 2010

There are still some races up in the air and some possible recounts and challenges but here is what we know right now:

Initiatives – 60, 61,101 all lost

State Offices

Governor – John Hickenlooper

Secretary of State – Scott Gessler (R) beat incumbent Bernie Buescher (D)

State Treasurer – Walker Stapleton (R) beat incumbent Cary Kennedy (D)

Attorney General – Incumbent John Suthers (R) beat Stan Garnett (D)

Legislature –

Senate –

SD 6 – Roberts (R) beat incumbent Whitehead (D) – pickup of 1 by R’s

SD 11 – Incumbent Morse (D) won by 13,451 to Hill (R) 13,199 with all precincts reporting

SD 16 – Leonard (R) ahead 27,690 over Nicholson (D) 27,318 with 91% of precincts reporting – possible pickup of 1 by R’s

If everything holds as now, count will go from current 21 D’s -14 R’s to 19 D’s – 16 R’s

House –

HD 17 – Barker (R) beats incumbent Apuan (D) pickup of 1 by R’s

HD 18 – Lee (D) over Cullen (R) –

HD 27 – Szabo (R) beats incumbent Gagliardi (D) pickup of 1 by R’s

HD 29 – Ramirez (R) beats incumbent Benefield (D) – pickup of 1 by R’s

HD 33 – Beezley (R) leading incumbent Primavera (D) with 95% of precincts reporting – possible pickup of 1 by R’s

HD 38 – Conti (R) leading incumbent Rice (D) – possible pickup of 1 by R’s

HD 47 – Swerdfeger (R) beats Partin (D) in McFadyen’s seat – pickup of 1 by R’s

HD 61 – Curry’s (U) seat – still no results reported, although unofficial rumor is that Wilson (D) is leading by nearly 1,000 votes.  Garfield and Gunnison Counties running slow.

If all holds as currently, R’s pick up 6 seats, would go from current 37 D – 27 R – 1 U to 33 R-32 D

US Senate

Bennet leads Buck by 15,000 votes with 99% of votes counted.  Buck has not conceded, but Bennet has given victory speech already.

US House

CD 1 – Degette (D) – incumbent

CD 2 – Polis (D) – incumbent

CD 3 – Tipton (R) beats incumbent Salazar (D)

CD 4 – Gardner (R) beats incumbent Markey (D)

CD 5 – Lamborn (R) – incumbent

CD 6 – Coffman (R) – incumbent

CD 7 – Perlmutter (D) – incumbent

Pickup of two seats by R’s in Congress

The four caucuses of the Colorado General Assembly will be meeting on Thursday and Friday of this week to elect leadership.

The Joint Budget Committee will begin meeting on Wednesday, November 11 to start work on the FY 2011-12 state budget.


YOUR VOTE COUNTS!! Resist The Bah Humbug Temptation!!!

October 1, 2010

by Scott Smith, La Plata Communities, PAC Chair

The upcoming general election is now less than 30 days away, November 2, 2010.  Unless you have been on an extended out of solar system vacation or have been held captive in a remote third world foreign country you have no doubt already been exposed to a significant amount of political discussion, debate and ads.  Contentiousness rules and downright mean and nasty allegations and charges are fired off every day by all players. Don’t be dismayed!

Unfortunately, the results of the so called “campaign finance reform” legislation has perpetuated and solidified a system that not only allows negative ads through 527 committees but essentially encourages their use.  These committees do not have to expose the identity of their contributors and they cannot support a particular candidate.  The only effective tactics that these secret “educational” campaigns can perform is to tear apart the opposition candidates.  The opportunity to finance positive candidate ads is severely limited by legislation.  In the quest to control the amount of spending in political campaigns has horribly backfired with negativity being the result. Politics have as a result become very distasteful, in turn causing many voters to become apathetic and avoid voting or not placing much effort into the process.  Don’t be turned away!

It’s rare that a single vote actually decides an election, so some folks justify not voting with the idea that their single vote doesn’t count.  The problem with that narrow thinking is that both the number of votes cast in a given election and the votes cast for a single candidate are often viewed as a “mandate” for the campaign promises and policies of the victorious candidate.  In addition, the number of votes cast determines things like signatures required for petitions and allocations of delegates for future caucuses. Let your voice be heard!

From the federal level to the local school board, representatives are selected to represent the interests of their constituents. Those running for office do it for a variety of reasons from selfless to self serving, out of a duty for public service to ego driven and sometimes to advance a single issue or pursue a narrow political agenda. Show up, let them know what you think!

The housing industry is subject to numerous rules, laws and regulations at all levels.  This rule-oriented environment is constantly changing and the environment is controlled by what amounts to a very few elected representatives.  Things like impact fees, required reports, building codes, entitlement requirements, construction standards, processes, inspection actions, utility requirements, pursuing things like the southern delivery system, drainage basins, development charges, construction defects and land use restrictions are just a few things that are extremely important to the industry and are all reviewed, amended, proposed and decided by our elected officials. Support your job! Support your industry!

The MISSION of the HBA PAC is to identify, support and elect candidates to public office that share our philosophies in support of our industry and the unique American free enterprise system.

Look for election communications from the PAC including the list of endorsed candidates in this issue!  Visit the HBA website to learn more!  Most importantly get out and VOTE!!!  Encourage your friends, co-workers and family to vote!  This is a critical election so don’t sit on the sidelines – you can’t complain if you don’t vote.


Initiative 300, The Mayor Project, Proposes More Accountable Government

October 1, 2010

Colorado Springs voters will decide this November if city government should change from a council-manager form of government to a strong mayor structure.

Initiative 300, developed by a broad coalition of citizens, proposes to make the Colorado Springs mayor the full-time chief executive of the city, overseeing the budget, city staff and day-to-day operations.

Why should citizens vote for this change?

  • Currently, the mayor is a part-time figurehead and just one vote on a committee of nine council members. A hired, unelected city manager oversees daily city operations.  No one has ultimate responsibility.
  • The city has seen a revolving door of city managers (five in the last 10 years), leading to instability and a lack of vision and leadership.
  • Initiative 300 gives voters a say in who’s leading the city and how tax dollars are spent, and makes the city’s chief executive directly accountable to the citizens.
  • The strong mayor system of government creates clear lines of authority and accountability and creates checks and balances, mirroring the model outlined in the US Constitution.
  • A full-time position with fair compensation will encourage more and better candidates to run for mayor.

To learn more about how Initiative 300 will create more accountable, effective government, or to get involved, visit www.MayorProject.org.


Say NO to Amendment 60, Amendment 61 & Proposition 101

September 23, 2010

Don’t let them trick you. Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 are too good to be true. A citizens group in Montrose urged voters not to support the three ballot issues, comparing them to onions. “The more you peel them back, the more you want to cry.”

They promise tax relief, but the fine print delivers a reckless package of deceptive job killing proposals that will increase class sizes in schools across Colorado and hammer our small businesses.

Seventy thousand jobs will be lost in our sputtering economy, pushing Colorado deeper into recession. More than half the job losses will come from private businesses, the rest from critical public service functions in state and local government. That’s why the Denver Post warns these proposals “might be tempting for some voters. But they would be devastating for Colorado.”

At least 8,000 classroom teachers could get pink slips driving up class sizes everywhere. Nowhere will the damage from these ill-conceived proposals be greater than in our schools. The chief financial officer of D-11 in Colorado Springs said, “We don’t have a way to make payroll.” And the Boulder Daily Camera points out, “The truth is that K-12 education funding will be decimated and schools will have nowhere to turn.”

Small businesses will be hammered. Our small businesses are the job creation engine that drives Colorado’s economy. Many of these companies will not survive if we drive Colorado’s economy deeper into recession by passing these proposals. Those that survive will be even smaller.

www.donthurtcolorado.org