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Electoral Reflections

a ban on public nicotine consumption

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 08, 1995.

I love it when I’m right, and because it happens so seldom, I plan to enjoy the results of this election. If the results of this year’s elections were indistinct and drawing small numbers of voters nationally, that was not the case in Boulder, where a large turnout turned in some decisive votes.

In one of the more charming aspects, the two highest vote getters for the City Council were the most conservative and the most liberal candidates, Bob Greenlee and Spence Havlick, respectively. This shows me two things, the electorate knows quality when it sees it and that it realizes the value of informed and civic debate. Greenlee's continued popularity, even among extreme liberals, speaks well both of him and them.

The Slow Growth measure died, not because it was too restrictive but judging by the strong anti-growth sentiment on the council, it wasn’t strong enough. That makes me glad considering the amount of money realtors paid for deceptive and clunky advertisements.

If any drift can be garnered by this small election, it is that liberalism is far from dead. Nationally, the Republicans made no gains, and predictably here in Boulder their platforms took a pounding. By two thousand votes, a ban on smoking went into effect, with stiff penalties of up to one thousand dollars. This was a body blow to those who sought to make it a first amendment issue and hopes to wrap the topic of rotted lungs in the flag. Didn’t work. It will not be easy to enforce, and I’m glad I’m not running a bar because there will be penalties. A drop of even ten percent - which would be likely - in attendance can decisively kill many bars. People who don’t smoke like to think of themselves as party-hearties but it is not so. Those five nights a year hardly make up for the bar fly and ciggy smoke contingent.

And, as predicted, this election brought out people who don’t normally vote, and they lost on the smoking issue. That won’t encourage them to participate further and they will become more marginalized. Statistically, smoking is a sign of low education and downward mobility and a cigarette is a social stamp more sure than accents and split infinitives. It was as much a snob vote as a health issue, but it was still the correct way to go. How the bar blowhards adapt may be one of the interesting stories of the year.

Just when Boulder begins to feel oppressive, there’s an election and I remain proud of this community.