I had lunch with City Council candidate Kevin Hotaling today. I think it's a law here in Boulder that every election we have one recently graduated student running and Kevin is it this year. As such, he has enthusiasm up the wazoo, is very idealistic, and doesn't have the long term connections that count for so much in a council race.
Two main themes cropped up repeatedly in what Kevin said. First was that he sees that several groups have no advocate on the council and he would be focused on their needs. He brought up students & the homeless as the prime examples. His repeated references to both throughout the interview made it clear that this is a priority to him and would be a focus of his on council.
The second theme is that the government needs to be less controlling of our lives rather than more. He supports the carbon tax because that prices in the cost of polluting. But he's opposed to directing people on exactly how they should develop their property. He was very critical of the open space purchase Boulder made to honk up Arvada's new "gateway to the city." As he says, good neighbors don't do that (gotta agree with that). He also pointed out the hypocrisy of our telling others how to live when we're not doing that well ourselves.
This led in to his discussing how our city actually does quite poorly in being a good environmental steward compared to the average. We talk a good story but our actions leave much to be desired. He did not propose any specifics but he did state that his approach is to price in the costs of environmental impact. He singled out the very large problem that at present a company can degrade the environment to their own profit while we all bear the cost.
As you listen to Kevin what comes across is he is a real interesting blend of Green & Libertarian (and some readers just had a brain short-circuit over that concept). It's an interesting combination and one that has a lot to say for it. I think a lot of people in Boulder, if they listened to it, would find themselves in agreement with quite a bit of it. But… I worry that most voters will take a quick look and not be able to put Kevin in one of their categories.
I asked Kevin about his electability. Every election since forever we've had a recent graduate run and every election they lose. (I think this is not so much an age issue as a lack of connections with large blocks of voters issue.) He replied that he is making very good use of the Internet which has not been done before – and he thinks that can make a substantial difference. I quizzed him on what he's doing and while he's doing a bit more than most, it's not at the level of a game changer. (Note: If anyone wants to make a serious effort on the net for the next election – contact me 1 June 2011 – that's when you need to get started.)
Kevin also discussed trying to improve relations between the University and the City. Everyone makes noises about this but he clearly sees this as something that can be improved if approached properly. And he has a great point of view on this as a recent graduate – he was a student, he's now a non-student resident. Same for the Hill where he discussed the problems of the City wanting stores lit up all night for safety, but they make it very difficult for those same stores to stay open past 11:00.
I asked if he could get one bill passed his first day on council what it would be. He had a very sensible proposal for the police department. First there would be financial help for officers who live in the city. This way they become full members of the community. Second it would assign officers to sections of town and try to re-send the same officer for repeating problems. This way the officer would build up a relationship with the people involved. What I find most interesting about this is it's a very specific straightforward proposal that would improve the city on a day to day basis.
He never brought up either of what I think are the main two issues facing the city, the escalating cost of housing (he did touch on that for the police) or the growing revenue shortfall. With that said, everyone brings their own focus to the council and once on the council they will be forced into addressing these two issues very very fast.
So what do we get with Kevin? Enthusiasm, idealism, a focus on people who are generally ignored by the city, and someone of an age that is not represented anywhere in our city government. On the flip side, he does have less experience or knowledge than most. But that tends to be the trade-off, as we gain knowledge and experience it beats the enthusiasm and idealism out of us. And his idea for the police shows that he can take all that and craft specific sensible ideas.
audio (speed is screwed up): Download KevinHotaling
Update: Kevin is the Assistant Organizer of The Boulder Campaign for Liberty, YAL and 9.12 Group