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Community Campaigns

for Boulder Issue Groups

Living in a city the size of Boulder has the advantage of allowing one to easily get involved in the affairs of the community. Vermilion gets active at election time, helping promote important initiatives that broadly benefit Boulder. We’re called on to partner with community groups promoting such causes as sustainability and renewable energy, smart growth, the arts, and the social safety net. We employ everything from traditional yard signs and bus boards to social and digital media to get the word out and build public support.

Support Smart Growth

The fall of 2015 brought forth two ballot measures that would severely limit growth in Boulder. Known as 300 and 301, they were an outgrowth of anxiety over new development within the city. If adopted, the measures would intentionally bring growth to a halt. One Boulder was quickly formed to combat the measures, drawing wide support from the affordable housing community, the realtors, businesses, cyclists, environmentalists, and nonprofit organizations. The campaign theme was “Don’t Divide Boulder,” executed by Vermilion across all media starting with a letter from six former mayors arguing against the propositions. Both issues were decisively beaten back 62% to 38%, but polarization about the desired future of Boulder was evident throughout the campaign.


Sensible Housing

The Boulder City Council election in the fall of 2019 was a hotly contested race. With six of the nine seats up for grabs, and fifteen candidates campaigning, there was the makings of a true change of direction of the Council. Growth was the dominant issue. Could building additional housing help with affordability and traffic congestion? Neighborhoods were pushing back on change, but more progressive voices were proposing gentle infill. The Boulder Chamber hired Vermilion to create a social media campaign called “sensible Boulder” that featured faces of many people that housing would be for — nurses, teachers, students, servers, in fact a vibrant cross section of the community at large. A second campaign, Rumor Roundup, tried to knock down some of the more outlandish statements of the anti-growth position. During the course of six weeks, more than 137,000 ads were viewed online.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

The Boulder County Human Services Safety Net Fund had been on the books for some time. Its mill levy tax was set to expire at the end of 2015, so Vermilion was engaged to make the case to the voters that this continued social services support was vital to the community. The pitch was straight forward: “invest in vulnerable individuals and families before they hit a crisis and help them get back on their feet so they won’t need extensive services later.” We created a website, and deployed direct mail, newspaper ads, social media, bus boards, and yard signs to get the word out. The tax passed by a 63% to 37% margin and will raise $75 million over its fifteen year lifespan to provide critical support throughout the county.


Enhancing Our Culture

Ballot Issue 2A proposed a temporary sales tax to improve the arts infrastructure in Boulder. Not known for civic support of the arts, the measure seemed risky, but long overdue. A broad coalition of arts and cultural organizations went to work, with Vermilion providing the marketing support pro bono, to rally support. Beneficiaries included the Dairy Center for the Arts, the Museum of Boulder, the core civic area along Boulder creek, and safety and lighting improvements to the Hill and Chautauqua areas. The theme of the campaign was Community / Culture / Safety. The public came together, supporting 2A by a 64% to 36% majority, raising $27 million in funding for these valuable community projects.


$27,000,000 Raised for Arts & Culture Infrastructure

Empowering Our Future

For many years, Boulder has been on a path of sustainability and renewable energy. In 2007, it was the first city in America to pass a carbon tax. And one strategy that gained favor with the public was to municipalize the electric utility, giving local control over the source fueling our electricity. In the fall of 2013, Excel Energy, Boulder’s utility, put Question 310 on the ballot, essentially a poison pill effort to halt movement toward the muni. Vermilion was tapped to wage a public campaign against the measure.


64% voted No on 310

A Robust Campaign

Empower Our Future was formed to organize the effort, and together with New Era Colorado, a robust campaign blanketed the city with ads, yards signs, emails, direct mail, bus boards, and letters to the editor, making clear the real intent of the ballot measure. Fortunately, the community got the message, emphatically defeating 310 by a margin of 69% to 31%.

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