VOTE 2020: RTD District G race looks to be an upset

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VOTE 2020: CU REGENT and RTD Board

Race Arapahoe CountyDouglas CountyAdams CountyDistrictwide
CU Regent DISTRICT6D-Illana Spiegel149104025984175088
CU Regent DISTRICT6R-Richard Murray105806025961131767
RTD District G
Julien Bouquet19906000
RTD District GKen Mihalik15167000

AURORA | There will be new and familiar faces on regional  governments advising the state’s largest university system and local transit authority.

The partisan split of the CU Board of Regents flipped Tuesday night, as voters elected Democrat Ilana Spiegel to represent Colorado’s 6th Congressional District on the board.

Spiegel declared victory around 9:30 p.m. after receiving 53.91% of the vote to Republican competitor Richard Murray’s 44.10% with 74% of ballots cast.

This brings the board under Democratic control for the first time in 40 years. The board previously had five Republicans and four Democrats, with Spiegel replacing Republican John Carson.

“This is not just about a Democratic majority but having a majority of educators,” Spiegel told the Sentinel. “It means that I think you’re going to see a more collaborative and more inclusive and a more collegial board, and that’s because educators are fundamentally collaborative.”

“I think we have a board majority that’s now in better alignment with the culture of the university system and of our state,” she said.

A  public education advocate and former schoolteacher, Spiegel lives in Englewood and has several children who attend the University of Colorado. She unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the state Board of Education in 2016; this is her first time in elected office. 

Colorado is one of the few states that has an elected partisan board of regents, and historically the members have struggled to work together. A contentious nomination process for a new university president last year ended with candidate Mark Kennedy being elected along partisan lines, with no Democratic support.

However, last year’s turmoil has faded into the background as the university works to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted higher education across the country.

Spiegel says her priorities for the university system include tackling the high costs of higher education and making sure that college is accessible to Coloradans of all backgrounds.

Only one of three Regional Transportation District board races were opposed.

Former Democratic Colorado state representative Paul Rosenthal has been elected to represent district E on the RTD board of directors. The district covers portions of western Aurora, north-central Centennial, southern Denver, Greenwood Village east of I-25 and portions of unincorporated Arapahoe County. Rosenthal ran unopposed, and shortly after poll closing time was reported to have received 53,218 votes.

Rosenthal has advocated for converting RTD’s fleet away from diesel, and working with rideshare companies to create more efficient first and last-mile service. He has advocated for RTD employees taking cuts proportional to their salary as an alternative to layoffs in dealing with the organization’s budget crisis.

Bob Broom was elected to a second term on the RTD Board of Directors representing district F, which covers the majority of Aurora and parts of unincorporated Arapahoe County. Broom ran unopposed, and shortly after poll closing time was reported to have received 61,502 votes.

A former Aurora city council member, Broom has advocated for converting RTD’s fleet from diesel-powered vehicles to electric or hydrogen-powered, and creating a shuttle bus service from the Aurora Town Center.

Douglas County public school teacher Julien Bouquet is currently in the lead in the race to represent District G’s on the RTD board of directors.

The district, which covers Lone Tree, Foxfield, portions of Aurora, Centennial, Highlands Ranch, Parker, and areas of unincorporated Arapahoe and Douglas Counties, is currently represented by incumbent Ken Mihalik.

As of 9:40 p.m. Bouquet received 53.88% of the vote to Mihalik’s 46.12%.with just under 75% of votes counted.

Bouquet, who has not been in office before, said he decided to run for the seat to improve RTD for ordinary commuters like himself. 

Mihalik and Bouquet have contrasting visions for RTD’s future, with Bouquet advocating for a campaign to boost RTD ridership and lower fares, while Mihalik has a more pragmatic approach and said that the agency will need to downsize in the future to cope with its budget deficit.