Boulder, CO as seen from the rooftop  of the City Courthouse in summer, looking down on the Pearl Street Mall and beyond to the Flatirons.

My Pre-Election Vision for a Post-Election Community

- John Tayer, President & CEO of the Boulder Chamber

Last month I offered my perspective on the issues at play in this year’s Boulder City Council election. As I write this prior to Nov. 5, but knowing it will appear soon after, I have the opportunity to envision a post-election future without the influence of actual election results. Of course, however the election settled things for the short term, we know the future of Boulder is a moving target that will evolve over time along with the evolving collective vision for our community. Still, there are some fundamental values that the Boulder Chamber invites our new Council and the community to uphold in our work together:

Inclusiveness and diversity

Public surveys and the Community Foundation’s Trends report indicate we need to make diverse groups feel more welcome. In part this is an issue of housing affordability. It’s also due to the notably homogeneous representation on City Council and in other areas of governance. We did have very talented and diverse folks running for office this cycle, so I hope we’ve elected a council that reflects a broader range of Boulder’s ethnic, gender, age, occupation and economic character.

This same focus on diversity and inclusion needs to permeate through other areas of civic leadership, from our appointed government boards and commissions to our non-profit and private sector bodies. This is an intentional goal for the Boulder Chamber, in our membership outreach, board recruitment and in other inclusive leadership development practices, such as our commitment to the Leadership Fellows program. We look forward to achieving important substantive results that send signals of support for underrepresented interests and invite them to participate as equal partners in our community’s future.

Shared prosperity and opportunity

Boulder is renowned as a center of entrepreneurship and business activity. As a result, many of us enjoy a high standard of living in the form of high-paying jobs and wide-ranging employment opportunities. Many businesses also support the career development work of our local educational institutions leading to employment positions for graduating students and those outside the traditional education path. Further, local businesses provide critical philanthropic and tax support for social welfare agencies that care for our most challenged community members.

However, not everyone benefits from our community’s economic prosperity. There are many who perform important jobs, from restaurant workers and those in startup business ventures, to emergency responders and teachers, but without an opportunity to call this place home or find easy commute access, our relationship with them is diminished. That is why the Boulder Chamber has been such an active voice in support of attainable housing options and why we’re the only chamber that supported the statewide minimum wage increase. We must find solutions for more broadly sharing the opportunities and prosperity that Boulder’s strong economy provides without undermining the pillars of small and large businesses success that secure our economic vitality.

Respect for all

We fancy ourselves a progressive, tolerant community, and in many ways we are. But not always and not in all ways. As I read newspaper op-eds or listen to the dialogue at city council meetings, I’m saddened by the nature of the rhetoric that defines the sides in debates over some of our most important civic issues. There’s entirely too much finger-pointing, impatience and outright intolerance toward those with different points of view. Maybe I’m also sensitive to it due to my Boulder Chamber role, but I’ve noticed particularly negative aspersions cast at the businesses and business leaders who contribute so substantially to our community’s success.

It is unproductive and insensitive to vilify our businesses and the jobs they create, a job that may be yours or your neighbor’s. At the same time, you will not hear the Boulder Chamber cast aspersions at those who take issue with our policy positions. Differences of opinion, offered in a constructive fashion, are always welcome in the course of dialogue. Let’s share our thoughts in a civilized tone that recognizes there will be honest differences amongst us as we seek to realize an even more aligned vision for our community’s evolution.

While this year’s election is important, I know our political pendulum will adjust over time in response to pressing needs of the day. For the Boulder Chamber, it’s most important that the values which guide our decisions, as detailed above, serve as the fundamental consistent anchor. We will continue to thrive, whoever sits at the city council dais, if we work together and hold onto that pre-election vision for a post-election community.

Read the article in BizWest here.

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