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A Primer on the Upcoming Nov. 7 Denver Elections: School Board and Ballot Measures

Updated: Oct 18, 2023



Denver Election Primer Graphic

With November 7th just around the corner, it's time to get ready for the upcoming election. In this article, we'll provide you with a primer on what to expect in this election, focusing on two crucial aspects: the Denver Public Schools Board of Education elections and three ballot measures.




DPS Board of Education Election

Participating in elections for public school board members is crucial because these individuals directly influence the quality of education provided to our children. The Denver Public Schools Board of Education oversees a sprawling district with more than 10,000 employees and nearly 90,000 students attending over 200 schools. Their responsibilities encompass strategic planning, student achievement, developing school policies, budget oversight (with a current annual budget of $1.28 billion), conducting student and employee appeals, adopting the school calendar, and hiring and firing superintendents.


By voting in school board elections, we have the power to select leaders who align with our values and priorities, ensuring our community's schools meet the needs of both students and parents. Now more than ever, as we see school boards across the country taking fascist measures like banning books or whitewashing history, it’s critical we elect school board leaders who put education before ideology.


How the DPS Board of Education Elections Work

The Denver Public Schools Board of Education consists of seven directors, each elected to four-year staggered terms. Five directors represent specific districts within Denver, while two represent Denver at large. In this election, we are focusing on the three seats that are in play on November 7th, while the other four seats will be contested in November 2025. Importantly, unlike mayoral and city council races, there is no runoff in school board elections.


Who’s Running for DPS Board of Education

For the upcoming November 7th election, three board member seats are up for grabs. Here’s a brief breakdown of current board members holding those seats and the candidates vying for the role.


At-Large Seat

Auon’tai Anderson is a current at-large board member and vice president. He is not running for re-election.

Candidates

  • Brittni Johnson: A former DPS student, single mother to DPS students and doctoral candidate.

  • Kwame Spearman*: A graduate of DPS schools, former Denver mayoral candidate and former CEO of the Tattered Cover bookstore.

  • John Youngquist: A longtime Denver educator and former principal of East High School.

District 1 Seat

Scott Baldermann represents District 1 and is running for re-election.

Candidates

  • Scott Baldermann*: The current District 1 board member. A DPS father and architect.

  • Kimberlee Sia: Lifelong educator and former CEO of the KIPP Colorado charter school network.

District 5 Seat

Charmaine Lindsay represents District 5 and was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2022. She is running for re-election.

Candidates

  • Charmaine Lindsay*: The current District 5 board member. She is a family law attorney who has been practicing law since 1996, focusing on low-income clients.

  • Marlene DeLaRosa: A DPS parent and mayoral appointee to both the Denver Parks and Recreation advisory board and the Denver Latino Commission.

  • Adam Slutzker: A DPS parent, former teacher and current real estate agent.

*This candidate has been endorsed by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA)

Seats up for Election in 2025

There are four additional board seats that will be up for election in 2025:

  • Scott Esserman: An at-large member elected in 2021.

  • Xóchitl Gaytán: Represents District 2, serves as the current board president and was elected in 2021.

  • Carrie Olson: Represents District 3 and was elected in 2017, then subsequently re-elected in 2021.

  • Michelle Quattlebaum: Represents District 4 and was elected in 2021.



Ballot Issues: Proposition HH, II & Referred Question 2P

In this election, you'll also have the opportunity to weigh in on two critical statewide ballot propositions, HH and II, as well as Denver's Referred Question 2P.


Proposition HH

Proposition HH aims to reduce property taxes for homes and businesses. It includes expanding property tax relief for seniors and using a portion of the state surplus to fund school districts.


This bill would provide long-term property tax relief for homeowners, which would allow senior citizens to downsize without losing the benefit of the homestead exemption. The transportability of the homestead exemption is also made retroactive.


Colorado has had decades of underfunded schools, but if HH passes, the state will retain additional revenue to benefit public schools, securing funding for 10 years.


Lastly, lower and middle-income people benefit, even if they are renters, by providing a more equitable distribution of TABOR refunds that put more money in their pockets.


The Colorado Democratic Party’s State Central Committee voted in support of this ballot measure. The Colorado League of Women Voters also supports the measure.


Proposition II

Proposition II will retain and spend revenues from taxes on cigarettes, tobacco and other nicotine products, to invest in Colorado's preschool program.


Investing in preschool programs not only will help Colorado children, many of whom have a high need for it since they are low-income or at-risk kids, but also, it will not give refunds to distributors of these products. Also, higher rates will deter the use of these products.


Thousands of kids will have access to preschool, which would put all kids on the same foundation before kindergarten, and help out working parents.


The Colorado Democratic Party’s State Central Committee voted in support of this ballot measure. The Colorado League of Women Voters also supports the measure.


Referred Question 2P

Referred Question 2P is specific to Denver County and relates to the Denver Preschool Program (DPP). It asks voters to decide if Denver should - without raising taxes - permanently extend the current 0.15% sales tax that's already approved by voters and is used to fund the Denver Preschool Program.


Back in 2006, the residents of Denver gave their approval for a 0.12% sales tax to establish the DPP. This initiative was designed to offer financial assistance for preschool education to families throughout the city. Initially, this funding was meant to support the program for eight years. In 2014, voters agreed to both increase the tax to 0.15% and reauthorize the program.


The program is once again up for reauthorization in 2026. However, because voters have already given their approval twice, the leaders of DPP are seeking to make the funding source a permanent fixture.


The Colorado League of Women Voters supports the measure.




We hope this primer helps you get ready for the November 7 election in Denver. Remember to exercise your right to vote and make your voice heard in shaping the future of your community. Stay informed, Denver, and let democracy thrive!

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