A year ago, Denver boosters were not only celebrating making the cut for the top twenty possibilities for Amazon's second headquarters, but contemplating bidding for the 2030 Winter Olympics.
The situation looked serious enough that last March, former governor Dick Lamm returned to the State Capitol, where he, along with other members of the NOlympic Committee (including recent cover subject Kyle Zeppelin), argued against Colorado's pursuit of the Games. Even so, the forty-member Exploratory Committee appointed by Mayor Michael Hancock came out with a report in June urging Denver to pursue a bid but, recognizing the opposition, also agreed that voters should have a say in whether the region should go for the Games.
On November 13, Amazon announced its pick for the new headquarters, and it wasn't Denver. Coincidentally, that was the day that Olympic officials were making a site visit to Denver. And a month later, the Olympic Committee announced its pick for the country's 2030 Winter Olympics bid. That wasn't Denver, either.
But Let Denver Vote, the successor to NOlympics, wasn't taking any chances.
It had already filed a citizen-initiated ordinance with the Denver Elections Division asking this: "Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver enact a measure prohibiting the use of public monies, resources or fiscal guarantees in connection with any future Olympic Games, without the City first obtaining voter approval at a regularly scheduled municipal election or special election should the City decide to use public monies, resources, or guarantees for this purpose?"
Let Denver Vote turned in those petitions on January 7. And while the group came up 361 valid signatures short to make the May 7 municipal election, it got a do-over. On February 1, organizers turned in another batch of petitions, and today, February 5, the Denver Elections Division determined that the Let Denver Vote Citizens Initiative qualifies for the June 4 Municipal Run-off Election — if there is a runoff, which will happen if no candidate in one of the citywide races receives over 50 percent of the vote.
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If there's no runoff, the initiative will automatically move to the November 5 ballot.
"This is a tremendous win for the people of Denver, and securing a place on the ballot empowers voters and ensures the well-being of the community," petition committee spokeswoman Christine O'Connor said after getting the news. "We're thrilled to give Denver voters a voice in determining whether to spend taxpayer money to bid for or host a future Olympics in the Mile High City, and we can't thank our volunteers enough for their enthusiastic commitment to putting the decision in the hands of Denver voters."
Before he became governor, then Representative Lamm pushed a successful statewide citizens initiative to prohibit taxpayer money being used for the 1976 Winter Games, and history could repeat itself this year. "It seems eminently reasonable to ask Denver voters to approve before Denver goes into the high/risk, high/cost Olympics," he says. "I urge a yes vote!"
Let the games begin!