|Loveland's Independent News Source
Loveland - November 9, 2016
The election of Loveland City Councilman Hugh McKean to the Colorado State House creates a vacancy
on Loveland’s City Council which is comprised of eight elected members and the city’s mayor.
The city’s next municipal election is not scheduled until November 2017. Therefore, the Loveland City
Council will call a special election to fill the Ward III seat McKean will be vacating early next year when
he is sworn into the Colorado State Legislature. The winner will than have only until November 2017
before standing for election again.
In addition to electing a new member of Loveland’s City Council, LovelandPolitics has learned city staff
members are quietly polling councilmembers over authorizing another DDA (Downtown Development
Authority) election at the same time as the special election. Downtown property and business owners
soundly defeated the proposed special taxing district for a second time on Tuesday which received only
350 votes out of 821 cast in the DDA 5E ballot question.
Losers and Winners in 2016 Election
Former postal worker and public employee union activist Gil Barela will likely attempt to influence the
upcoming city election. Barela served as the campaign manager for two successful Thompson School
Board incumbent re-election campaigns last year and tried to pivot that movement into the campaign
he managed for McKean’s Democrat opponent Jody Shadduck-McNally this year.
What Barela frequently called his “engine” of TEA (Thompson Education Association) or teacher’s union,
stalled in the House District 51 race earning Shadduck-McNally only 39% of the popular vote to
Councilman Hugh McKean’s landslide victory of over 60%. In addition, the teacher union’s ‘engine’
failed to pass either of the property tax increases they were seeking in ballot measures 3D and 3E to
build new schools and raise salaries of only school district employees represented by the union.
Voters rejected both property tax increases 3D and 3E by 53.8% and 55.3%, respectively. Thompson
School District (TSD) is struggling with an exodus of 1,800 students each year choosing to attend schools
outside the district and a superintendent whose inability to balance a budget is creating a financial
crisis. Since being hired to run TSD in 2012, Superintendent Stan Scheer has spent down most of the
district’s available reserves by overrunning their budget by about $5 million each year.
Why They Lost
A political novice, Barela believed strongly he could turn the TEA election ‘engine’ against Republican
McKean in Colorado House District 51 to elect Shadduck-McNally. Colorado House District 51
encompasses mostly Loveland and surrounding areas. Traditionally, Republicans have the lead in the
33,000 households within Colorado’s 51st House District. However, Barela believed that since 1 in 4
Republicans within Loveland voted for TEA backed candidates in 2015 against their reform minded
opponents, a similar wind would prevail against Republican Hugh McKean by injecting school funding
issues into the race.
What Barela didn’t understand is the participation level in the 2015 board of education election was
quite low so didn’t reflect a plurality of voters and certainly cannot be interpreted as a mandate.
In addition, proponents of issues 3D and 3E similarly thought they would pass by large margins due to
the high percentage of vote the current members of the Board of Education received in their November
3, 2015 election against relatively unknown “reform candidates.” While they did win in a landslide
where their opponents barely garnered 30% of the votes cast, only 31,000 ballots were cast in the TSD
election of November 2015. Yesterday, more than 66,000 eligible voters living within TSD’s boundaries
cast ballots. The outcome was a clear rejection of this school board’s vision to seek help from voters in
balancing their budget instead of consolidating schools or reducing spending in general.
|Teacher Union's Political 'Engine'
Fails to Influence Area Election Outcomes
|Former postal worker and union
activist Gilbert C. Barela tried to pivot
teacher union influence into State
House race unsuccessfully