2011 Election: No On Taxes, Yes On Reform

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A driver drops off their ballot in Denver on Nov. 1, 2011. (credit: CBS)

A driver drops off their ballot in Denver on Nov. 1, 2011. (credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

It didn’t take a rocket scientist, or political scientist for that matter, to predict that voters were not in the mood to raise taxes in 2011. Gov. John Hickenlooper came to that realization last year, so the fact that nearly every tax or mill levy increase in the metro failed is not a shocker.

However, voting down taxes or other forms of educations funding was not the only statement voters made on Tuesday.

The other education statement made by Denver voters was that they are in favor of the current reforms put in place by DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg. By electing Anne Rowe and Happy Haynes to School Board positions, Denver voters kept the balance of power clearly with reform supporters.

More From CBSDenver.com: Complete Election Results

Admittedly, voters didn’t make this statement without influence. A great deal of national money came into all three DPS school board races, especially the district races.

The odd thing about that money was that it wasn’t just from teachers unions. Voters are accustomed to seeing teachers unions make significant investments in elections. Unions are more than competitive in Colorado politics, they’re influential.

But this time, supporters of reform policies were the big spenders in the Denver races. Some national pundits pointed to the school board races in Colorado as potential bellwether races for educational policy battles across the nation.

If that is the case, supporters of reform and of school vouchers, whose supporters won big in the Douglas County School Board races, will find serious momentum from the 2011 Colorado election.

The other entity with serious momentum after this election is Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. Hancock was not bashful with his endorsements for this election, and if results hold from what they look like at press time, only one candidate he backed lost.

Those results should prove to boost Hancock’s political prowess in Denver. It should also help him establish his own political identity, which is critical for any mayor taking over after John Hickenlooper.

With a major election right around the corner, it won’t take long for the results of this election to be analyzed, dissected and examined for every detail that may indicate where voters will go one year from now.

I think most of the analysis of the 2011 election in Colorado will show that 2012 will be a knock down, drag out fight over education policies and funding. Those who support new taxes and funding won’t go away, they will simply refine their message. Those who are against tax increases know that the fight is not over.

As with all good election years, the results of the 2011 election should simply serve as a way to frame the next election. Even though the 2011 election seemed tame by Colorado standards, the results should set up a very exciting 2012.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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