Well, the results are out! We now have a more accurate picture of which council/mayor candidate cares enough about a range of progressive issues to make commentary.
Ours was arguably the most comprehensive and extensive questionnaire around, and we feel very confident that it covers the broad array of issues that are important to Denver’s registered Greens and other left-leaning allies. In a city dominated politically by the Democratic Party, it’s not enough to ask who’s a Democrat or a Republican, especially when they tend to promote the same corporate agenda. It’s important for the people of Denver to know how candidates line up on a left-right spectrum.
As Green Party members, we are deeply engaged in various activist communities, including #BlackLivesMatter, Occupy Denver, the cannabis community, anti-homelessness, public education, as fracktivists and more. In the course of our activism, we have come to know that committed residents of Denver feel abandoned by the current crop of politicians. Many voters feel checked out of the political process because of disappointing recent votes on the camping ban, on police accountability, park designations, overdevelopment and gentrification and more.
Denver’s voter turnout went from around 75 percent in 2010 to around 43 percent in 2014. We are certain that this drop represents the deep disappointment that left-leaning voters feel about the neoliberal, pro-corporate votes being taken by city electeds. We do not accept the typical Democratic Party excuses about “off year elections.” Denver’s voters are checked out, and democracy is best served when more people vote, not less. If we care about voter turnout (and we Greens care deeply), then we see no alternative than to ask the truly hard questions of these candidates. We want people to start paying attention again, and they no longer want softball answers lobbed to well-scrubbed corporate candidates spouting progressive-sounding platitudes. Voters want to hear the truth about the real values candidates hold.
We also decided to make the somewhat unorthodox move of letting you know not only who failed to respond to these questions, but also who took a look at the questions and failed to respond. You need to know whether these candidates, who could not take the time to respond to these crucial issues, are worth your time in return.
Are these the most progressive candidates on the ballot? Quite possibly. It says a lot about a candidate to step away from the norm and to dig in and answer. In some cases, the responses are clearly not progressive, like insisting that the free market solves all problems (it doesn’t) or not taking a hard line against fracking and pesticides. We were pleasantly surprised by the humility some candidates showed about topics they hadn’t previously considered, by even asking for our input, in some cases. The only advice we can offer is to look at the answers on a continuum. You don’t have to choose the lesser of two (or six!) evils. Because all Denver voters will be able to vote for two at-large council candidates AND a council district candidate, you can choose not to vote for one or the other. Or neither. Even if you only vote for mayor, auditor and/or clerk and recorder, that’s still exercising your democratic rights.
The questions were chosen via consensus of the Denver chapter’s voting members, using the Green Party’s 1o Key Values as our watermark. Our meetings are open to the public. If you would like to become a voting member of our chapter, here is more information. With voting members, we are sharing information about how many times candidates actually engaged with the questionnaire before deciding to submit answers or not, as well as some other tidbits of information. Our next meeting is Wednesday, April 15 at 6 p.m. at the Blair-Caldwell library at 24th and Welton, in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood.
“Vote your values, not your fears” is one of the mantras of the Denver Green Party. We hope you will.
Andrea Mérida, co-chair