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Friday January 18th 2019

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That's what she said

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Budd: Young techie tackles housing, transportation


By

Eric Budd, a 2017 candidate for Boulder City Council, is making his first run for elected office, and many locals already know he has wasted no time or energy in efforts to make his positions known. Budd, 35 years old, is running in advocacy of inclusivity in local government, increased housing availability, the fight against climate change, and alternative transportation, among other issues.

Candidate Budd (photo courtesy Eric Budd)

“On housing and transportation, our strong economy puts huge pressure on our roads, housing, and public services. We need to invest to make sure that our seniors can age in place, and that families and young people can still afford to live here,” said Budd.

Budd grew up in rural St. Louis County, Missouri, with self-described “conservative” parents in an auto-centric area that he said did not have a strong concern for the environment. During his youth, his family moved farther and farther away from the city center, but Budd now sees cities as places where people can “build value and strong economies, protect the environment, and be inclusive places.” He went on to attend Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, and earned a degree in economics after starting with an interest in marketing—but in either case, he had a fascination with understanding market behavior during college and has not lost his interest.

He has spent most of his professional life in the tech sector, as he worked in software development for three years after college, then moved to Colorado in 2007 to work as a project manager for Seagate in Longmont. He has lived in Boulder since 2010, and most recently worked as a product manager at Conga in Broomfield, also owning a data management product on the Salesforce platform. He has focused on running for Council since leaving Conga in April 2017.

Budd took his first direct step into the (non-paid) public sector by being appointed to the City of Boulder Landmarks Board in April 2016, and he currently serves as the board’s chair. When asked about tough Landmarks decisions, he recalled his very first meeting, when the owner of a home at 717 17th Street wanted to have the home demolished despite there being legitimate factors that could have supported landmarking. Budd voted with the majority to allow demolition, but not without a certain degree of difficulty.

“We had the option to landmark the home over the homeowner’s objection, which is a serious and rare act for the board to take, and there was a reasonable case to do so. While the board ultimately decided not to landmark the home and let it be demolished and the person’s own personal interest was not a factor in my decision, it underscored my belief that it’s important people are cared for and respected in what can be a very difficult process,” said Budd.

He has also participated with several local civic organizations, including serving on the advocacy committee of Community Cycles and the steering committee of Better Boulder, where he focused on transportation and housing issues. While with Better Boulder, he worked on op-eds for local media, including a piece for the Daily Camera on the East Arapahoe transportation and land-use plan, helped evaluate the organization’s criteria for rating development projects, and wrote software to help keep people informed about Better Boulder through email and social media.

Until September 2017, Budd stated that he supported moving forward with Boulder’s efforts to create a municipal electric utility, saying he appreciated how the muni could help the city decarbonize while bringing local control to energy decisions. He also said he had voted for previous city ballot measures in favor of municipalization. But after the recent ruling on Boulder’s muni application from the Public Utilities Commission and an announcement from Xcel Energy that it would seek 55 percent renewable energy by 2026, Budd’s position turned hard to opposition, and he sent a lengthy explanation to the Daily Camera and to his social media followers, with some excerpts to follow.

“Both the increase in debt the city would require and the delay in acquisition of renewable generation reduces our benefit for a Boulder utility relative to Xcel…With Colorado’s strict regulatory structure and the state’s inadequate 30% renewable target, municipalization had been the only real way to 100% clean energy. Xcel has now shown a path to move far beyond the state requirement and closer to Boulder’s goal,” wrote Budd.

He has also been a semi-regular guest contributor to local media in general, including opinions supporting the city’s co-operative housing ordinance that passed in 2017, supporting a housing development at 3303 Broadway that didn’t go forward with the density proposed though some development is likely there in the future, and opposing Boulder ballot questions 300 and 301 (developer fees and neighborhood votes on certain types of development) from 2015, in a piece titled “Race, class exclusions could be enshrined in charter.

With debates over growth prominent in 2017 and many other Boulder local election cycles of the past, Budd noted that certain growth limitations of the past such as the Danish Plan, Blue Line, and building height limits were “transformative” for Boulder, preserving the attributes that made Boulder special and limiting sprawl. However, he suggested looking at decisions of past decades with a “new vision,” for example saying East Arapahoe might be a good specific place to explore allowing higher buildings to increase housing availability, without changing the city charter to allow higher buildings citywide.

Budd said he supports new housing projects and ideas such as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), granny flats, higher occupancy limits for seniors, duplexes to replace single-family homes, and development on the CU-South property—with proper flood mitigation and if it aligns with the city’s housing, transportation plan, and environmental goals. But he understands that there could be opposition to any given proposed project. If facing a controversial decision with opposition, he said he would consider who’s being heard and who isn’t, along with how it would impact quality of life and the economic impact. He also opposes increasing the recently adopted commercial linkage fee of $12 per square foot, which is used to fund city affordable housing programs, but said he is open to re-examining the issue in the future.

Budd, at age 35, is basically on the soft border between being a millennial or a “Generation Xer,” He said he uses Twitter as part of his toolkit to build relationships and listen to others, and he wasn’t kidding—as of Sept. 25, he had issued about 77,500 tweets since launching his account, and had just more than 4,000 followers. Budd is aware that younger people are rarely elected to Council, and intends to continue working toward building civic engagement among Boulder’s younger populace.

“We need more representation across the city—many younger folks, renters, and those who participate in our startup and technology economy are not represented,” said Budd.

Website: www.electericbudd.org

CONNECTIONS

  • Budd is one of the five candidates endorsed by Engage Boulder, Open Boulder, and Better Boulder.
  • As of Sept. 25, Budd had received $100 maximum donations from current Council member Aaron Brockett, former Council member KC Becker, and others.
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