Rachel Friend and Junie Joseph on Tuesday night were elected to Boulder City Council, and incumbents Bob Yates and Aaron Brockett were both given new four-year terms.
Mark Wallach and Adam Swetlik were tied and both were poised to win the fifth and sixth seats up for grabs over the other nine candidates as of 2:25 a.m. early Wednesday, according to vote tallies included in the latest release of unofficial results from the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder.
Swetlik made a comeback from narrowly trailing Susan Peterson when initial returns released at 7 p.m.
Yates had 10.56% of the vote, Friend had 9.85%, Joseph had 9.83%, Brockett had 9.31%, Wallach had 8.61% and Swetlik had 8.61% of the vote; Swetlik was behind Peterson by 0.01% initially at 7 p.m. results, but Peterson had dropped to 7.97% at the latest update.
Other candidates who were short of winning a seat were Mark McIntyre at 8.00%; Benita Duran with 6.81%; Corina Julca with 6.54%; Brian Dolan with 6.69%; Nikki McCord with 2.37%; Paul Cure with 2.41%; Andy Celani with 1.48%; and Gala Orba with 0.96%.
The winners are set to join current Council members Sam Weaver, Mirabai Nagle and Mary Young, whose respective terms last through 2021.
Yates, Brockett, Friend and Joseph earn four-year terms as the top four vote recipients, while Wallach and Swetlik would get two-year terms, if they remain in fifth and sixth place, respectively.
The results represent a shift from the 2017 race, which gave a strong majority of wins to candidates backed by slow-growth advocate PLAN-Boulder County, and led to a Council that further regulated development, perhaps most notably by setting the second-highest per-square-foot affordable housing fee on non-residential construction.
The results sweep two new candidates into office backed by advocacy groups The Coalition and Better Boulder, which are more open to denser housing development, in Joseph and Friend, and keep Yates and Brockett, also endorsed by the groups, on the Council.
“Change has value, change is important and change is something we all need to embrace,” Yates said. “But some folks in our community don’t want change, they want us to stand still. … If we made no changes … Boulder would become older, and whiter and richer and less inclusive, less diverse and less welcoming.”
With possible wins by Swetlik and Wallach, a majority of PLAN endorsements is maintained on the Council, as Young, Nagle and Weaver were supported by the group. Tuesday set up a 2021 election in which all incumbent PLAN-endorsed Council members face reelection, a situation that had Coalition leader Matt Benjamin enthusiastic.
“I think it is about who has a little bit of a crossover, who can see both sides of things and who is willing to listen to the whole community,” Swetlik, 32, said.
Wallach noted early election leaders among the four-non incumbents featured youth and newcomers to Boulder’s political scene, relative to the candidates poised to fall short of victories such as longtime residents McIntyre and Peterson.
“I think (results) say a good deal about Boulder’s desire for a more diverse council,” Wallach said. ” … I think it sends a message that there was an appreciation for the incumbents and there was some appreciation for new faces, different voices.”
Wallach has lived in the city just five years, while Joseph, 33, has lived in Boulder just a year after working in human rights for the United Nations in the Central African Republic.
“No matter what happened tonight, I believed that I belonged, the minute I showed up to Boulder, I knew that I belonged,” Joseph said. “Although some people may have told me that I don’t, I knew that I did. You can stand on that conviction knowing that you belong, no matter what other people say about you.”