Boulder City Council has been influenced by Lisa Morzel, Cindy Carlisle and Suzanne Jones a majority of the time dating back to 1986.
Tuesday will be the last Council meeting for all three of them — for at least two years. Carlisle and Jones could technically run again and win a third term, while Morzel is term-limited after voters capped Council members to three terms in a lifetime in 2016.
Boulder’s elected body lacked both Carlisle and Morzel from the end of 1990 to 1995 and again from 2003 to 2007, since Carlisle was first elected in 1986.
After serving the city for 20 years, including the last 12, and eight between 1995 and 2003, Morzel is taking off with two decades as an elected city leader on her resumé.
Carlisle served the last two in addition to a four-year term from 1986-1990, while Jones served the last eight years, including the last four as mayor. All three are leaving their leadership roles to be filled by next week’s election.
Each councilwoman reflected on their proudest moments of their respective tenures Monday, before declarations honoring each of their service were set to be read by Council colleagues at their last meeting.
For Morzel and Carlisle, seeing the results of initiatives they worked on in their first terms, and even before they were on Council, has been rewarding.
“It was really at the beginning of a lot of things that now you can see the fruition of what the seed was,” Carlisle said of her first term.
Specifically, Carlisle has enjoyed seeing the expansion of the “tributary trails,” the addition of regional bike paths toward Niwot and other areas, that she said she brought to Council in the late 80s.
Carlisle was also content to be on the late 80s Council that instituted Boulder’s buffer zone rule, preventing protest within certain distances of medical clinics that was meant to make family planning service centers and abortion clinics less intimidating environments for the people they served. Issues surrounding that city rule went to the U.S. Supreme Court, Carlisle said, and a similar state rule has stayed intact during subsequent legal challenges at the high court, according to news reports.
“That was a big deal. These were things the residents did and cared about,” Carlisle said. “… I still feel really proud of those things.”
Morzel mentioned the numerous acquisitions of open space property she oversaw as one of her favorite accomplishments. She pointed especially to those of the Van Vleet and Jewel Mountain areas south of Boulder that the councilwoman said prevented development of upward of 1,000 acres that had been discussed in the 90s.
At her last count, Morzel said she was involved as a council member in city purchases of more than 20,000 acres of open space.
“For me, it has been an incredible journey over these last 24 years basically of representing the people of Boulder and working together to come to a common vision, or a collaborative vision,” Morzel said.
Morzel’s bio on the Council webpage states she was among the first to research the potential municipalization of Boulder’s electric utility. She said she is proud of her involvement in the city movement toward fully renewable energy as it has crept closer to being possible over the last decade.
Boulder gaining final state approval to transfer some Xcel Energy assets to the city earlier this month was a celebratory moment for Morzel, and the entire council.
In fact, if she wasn’t term-limited, Morzel said she would consider running for reelection to get to see through the municipalization process as the city finalizes the costs it will have to pay Xcel if voters approve of the figure.
“Certainly we have to go a few more steps, but we should be pretty pleased with the recent Public Utilities Commission decision and letting us go to the next step,” Morzel said.
Carlisle also declined to rule out running for Council once more; she is eligible to serve one more term.
“We’ll see what happens in this next couple of years,” Carlisle said. “Never say no.”
Morzel also began advocating construction of a new library branch in north Boulder in 1988, she said, and is grateful the project could go under construction within a year.
Jones beamed over the city realizing its vision for a bus rapid transit system in the RTD-run Flatiron Flyer startup in 2016, and is optimistic of current efforts to emulate the model for Colo. 7 and Colo. 119 with hopes it lessens dependence on single occupancy vehicle trips between Boulder, Longmont, east Boulder County, Broomfield and Weld County.
The mayor also is appreciative of the state Legislature last session passing 13 climate-related bills, including the sweeping overhaul of oil and gas drilling regulations, aimed at mitigating the planet’s warming that Boulder and its fellow local governments in Boulder County had a hand in getting signed into law.
“There was a whole suite of bills Boulder county and municipalities therein helped get across the finish line, with leadership from our delegation,” Jones said.
All three councilwomen spoke highly of each other, expressing gratitude for getting to work together, and each offered a bit of advice to the next council surrounding the controversial nature of growth, development, affordable housing and municipal land use planning in Boulder.
“I’d say we’re making steady progress on increasing affordable housing in Boulder, and we’re moving about as fast as we have social license to,” Jones said. “The next council will pick up the baton and take the next steps that people are ready for. This is not an issue that is going to be solved overnight. It’s an issue that is facing just about every desirable city in the country. It’s not an easy one to fix. People have very strong opinions on that, on how we should proceed. The conversation will continue on that and it should.”