Denver Election Results for Controversial Homeless Measure and More

Residents of a homeless encampment packing up prior to a November 2020 sweep by City of Denver employees.
Residents of a homeless encampment packing up prior to a November 2020 sweep by City of Denver employees. Photo by Michael Emery Hecker
Only three statewide measures were on the 2021 election ballot, and Colorado voters roundly rejected all of them on November 2. But Denver residents had a lot more on their plates.

In addition to four Denver School Board races, they had to consider thirteen issues, including a controversial proposal related to complaints about homeless encampments and a pair of confusing measures focusing on the old Park Hill Golf Course. Denver voters turned thumbs down on Initiated Ordinance 303, and split over ordinances 301 and 302 in a way that will delay development of the property until after a future city election regarding whether to lift a conservation easement.

The school board races are a study in contrast, too. The most recent results, updated at 11:30 p.m. November 2, show two candidates with comfortable margins of victory: Scott Esserman, a director at-large hopeful, and Carrie Olson in District 3. But the District 2 contest finds Xochitl "Sochi" Gaytan and Karolina Villagrana within less than 1 percent of each other (50.39 to 49.61 percent). The District 3 contest is nearly as close: Michelle Quattlebaum has 43.27 percent and Gene Fashaw checks in at 40.94 percent, followed by Jose Silva at 15.79 percent.

The Denver ballot was crowded with eight referred questions. Question 2A, which called for $104 million in bonds to upgrade and maintain assorted libraries and cultural venues, is winning easily. So, too, is 2B, which earmarks bonds adding up to $38.6 million to acquire, build or convert homeless shelters; 2C, which will put $63.3 million toward road-safety improvements and bike/pedestrian projects; and 2D, which will direct $54 million toward park construction and maintenance projects. But 2E, which was split off from 2A by Denver City Council and would have allotted $190 million in bonds for two projects at the National Western Center — a new, 10,000-seat arena and renovation of the circa 1909 arena — is behind 58.63 to 41.37 percent.

Outside of the bond package, voters easily approved 2G, which gives the city's volunteer Citizen Oversight Board the power to appoint the Independent Monitor (something previously reserved for the mayor), and 2H, which moves Denver's municipal election from May to April.

With the exception of 301, measures pushed by citizens didn't fare well. In particular, 2F, a proposal by Safe and Sound Denver that asked for a repeal of the city zoning code changes regarding group-living guidelines approved by council last February, is getting positively trounced, 68.26-31.74 percent.

Ditto for Ordinance 300, which would have triggered a 1.5 percent sales tax hike on recreational cannabis to pay for "pandemic research for advanced technologies to protect the public from the spread of pandemic pathogens."

Also going down are initiatives 303 and 304, both sponsored by Denver Republican Party chair Garrett Flicker. Under 303, the city would have been limited to four safe-camping sites on public property; another provision that would have allowed citizens to sue the City of Denver if it didn't take enforcement action against a homeless encampment within 72 hours of receiving a complaint had already been thrown out by a judge. And 304 would have decreased the city's sales and use tax from 4.81 percent to 4.5 percent, and place a 4.5 percent cap on the aggregate amount.

Continue to see the latest results in the Denver races:

Denver School Board Director At-Large

Marla F. Benavides: 10,877 votes, 15.84 percent
Scott Esserman: 26,990 votes, 39.31 percent
Jane Shirley: 11,056 votes, 16.1 percent
Nicky Yollick: 4,059 votes, 5.91 percent
Vernon Jones Jr.: 15,674 votes, 22.83 percent

Denver School Board Director District 2

Xochitl "Sochi" Gaytan: 4,090 votes, 50.39 percent
Karolina Villagrana: 4,026 votes: 49.61 percent

Denver School Board Director District 3

Carrie A. Olson: 11,601 votes, 68.09 percent
Mike DeGuire: 5,436 votes, 31.91 percent

Denver School Board Director District 4

Michelle Quattlebaum: 4,971 votes, 43.27 percent
Gene Fashaw: 4,704 votes, 40.94 percent
Jose Silva: 1,814 votes, 15.79 percent

Referred Question 2A

Yes/For: 51,868 votes, 63.19 percent
No/Against: 30,210 votes, 36.81 percent

Referred Question 2B

Yes/For: 50,039 votes, 61.03 percent
No/Against: 31,958 votes, 38.97 percent

Referred Question 2C
Yes/For: 50,123 votes, 61.11 percent
No/Against: 31,898 votes, 38.89 percent

Referred Question 2D
Yes/For: 50,759 votes, 61.96 percent
No/Against: 31,167 votes, 38.04 percent

Referred Question 2E
Yes/For: 33,861 votes, 41.37 percent
No/Against: 47,987 votes, 58.63 percent

Referred Question 2F
Yes/For: 25,846 votes, 31.74 percent
No/Against: 55,574 votes, 68.26 percent

Referred Question 2G
Yes/For: 53,774 votes, 67.67 percent
No/Against: 25,695 votes, 32.33 percent

Referred Question 2H
Yes/For: 60,040 votes, 74.72 percent
No/Against: 20,309 votes, 25.28 percent

Initiated Ordinance 300
Yes/For: 32,915 votes, 40.27 percent
No/Against: 48,823 votes, 59.73 percent

Initiated Ordinance 301
Yes/For: 51,009 votes, 63.04 percent
No/Against: 29,901 votes, 36.96 percent

Initiated Ordinance 302
Yes/For: 30,252 votes, 37.75 percent
No/Against: 49,879 votes, 62.25 percent

Initiated Ordinance 303
Yes/For: 36,363 votes, 44.66 percent
No/Against: 45,050 votes, 55.34 percent

Initiated Ordinance 304
Yes/For: 30,699 votes, 37.83 percent
No/Against: 50,449 votes, 62.17 percent
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts