David Takahashi
David Takahashi

Editor’s note: The Camera is profiling candidates for the five vacant Boulder City Council seats before the Nov. 2 election. Stories about candidates will be published in alphabetical order, and profiles will also be available online at dailycamera.com.

Climate change drives most of David Takahashi’s desire to run for Boulder City Council.

Takahashi lost his home in the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire, and it totally changed his perspective regarding the need for immediate climate action. When Takahashi and his wife moved to Martin Acres, the pair retrofitted their new home in an effort to erase its carbon footprint and make it fully dependent on renewable energy.

David Takahashi (Camera file)

Takahashi, 70, has lived in the Boulder area for 34 years, including the last nine in the city. He is a retired software engineer.

Although he has not been a member of any city boards or working groups, he has been involved with other special interest groups, particularly those that focus on faith, climate action or both, such as Together Colorado, The Alliance Center’s Regenerative Recovery Center and the Climate and the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate.

Takahashi also is a GreenFaith fellow. The organization strives to build a worldwide, multifaith climate and environmental movement, according to its website.

The key to climate action in Boulder is reducing the city’s dependence on fossil fuels, Takahashi noted. While the city recently adopted more aggressive climate goals, Takahashi worries the public isn’t on board with the plan, which he said will inevitably make it challenging to meet the targets.

“I do believe without public ownership of the Climate Action Plan, we will not get very far,” Takahashi said.

In addressing climate change, Takahashi recommends fully electrifying the city’s bus fleet; making alternative modes of transportation easier to use; and working the housing/jobs balance to ensure people who work in Boulder and want to live here can afford to do so.

Takahashi also has an idea to create “alternate bike freeways” at rush hour. This would allow the safe transport of vehicles such as electric bikes and scooters. He envisions taking a street such as 30th Street and allowing multiple lanes for e-bikes and e-scooters during the morning and evening rush hours.

“It would get cars off the road,” Takahashi said.

When speaking with Takahashi, the conversation often drifts back to climate change, a source of concern for some given the variety of topics the Boulder City Council must tackle. Despite the interconnectedness of many issues, the Council takes a look at everything from housing and development to transportation, homelessness, open space and the budget.

Still, Takahashi would tell people he has other priorities — improving and diversifying public participation and engagement being one of them.

He’s suggested an idea similar to a jury summons in which people would be selected at random and required to provide feedback on a particular topic.

Like jury duty, Takahashi argues people could be given a paid day off work in order to do this, and the city could provide transportation, whatever it had to do to ensure people could participate.

He also supports diversifying the Council and finding new voices to represent the city. Council’s current pay — about $11,000 annually — and the amount of time required of councilmembers makes it challenging for a lot of people to serve. On top of other general Council duties, City Council meeting packets can be hundreds of pages long, and Tuesday meetings can go late into the evening.

“The way it is set up, it attracts people who actually have the time,” Takahashi said. “Which is unfortunate, because we also need to attract the people who don’t have the time.”

He’s hopeful that, if elected, he could play a role in enacting policy changes that might make it easier for people, including young people and single parents, to serve.

“I see my job as kind of the second leg of a four-person relay,” he said. “I’m going to grab the stick, and I’m going to hand it off to those people that have the opportunity to serve their community.”

He has big ideas — some of which may be difficult to accomplish or generally outside of the City Council’s purview.

But Takahashi sees it a bit differently. He isn’t afraid of big ideas and understands that they may need to be tackled piecemeal.

“Criticisms that things are too big are fine,” he said. “That does not preclude making progress on them.

“By setting the bar high, we may not get over the bar. But we’re going to get so much farther than if we had not tried,” Takahashi added.

Since Takahashi became a grandfather, Lodi Siefer has noticed a difference in him.

“He’s completely devoted to a sustainable future,” the GreenFaith Boulder County organizer said. “And just really energetic, persistent.”

For Takahashi, it’s not just about words, Siefer noted.

The candidate was endorsed by the local chapter of the Sierra Club.

“He has a deep personal commitment to reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change,” the environmental group said in a statement. “David’s building retrofit experience would be a valuable tool in adapting Boulder to reduce carbon emissions and to add climate resilience and social equity.”

Given Takahashi’s focus on climate, he was in the running for an endorsement from PLAN-Boulder County.

“His energy viewpoints certainly align with ours,” co-chair and former City Council member Allyn Feinberg said.

However, she noted Takahashi seemed less informed “about some of the community planning and growth issues that we expect a little more familiarity with,” so PLAN-Boulder ultimately decided against endorsing him.