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June 02, 2021 01:24 PM UTC

Running for a Seat that May Not Exist

  • by: Colorado Pols
The CU Board of Regents will look different in 2022…one way or another.

One of the first declared statewide candidates for 2022 is getting some decent media attention, though it’s not clear that the seat in question will even appear on the next Colorado ballot.

Charles Ashby reported this week for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on the candidacy of Scott Mangino, a Denver Democrat seeking to win an at-large seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents. Katie Langford of The Boulder Daily Camera first picked up on Magino’s candidacy late last month:

Mangino, a 34-year-old Democrat, announced his candidacy for at-large regent this week. The seat is currently held by Republican Regent Heidi Ganahl, who was elected in 2016.
Ganahl did not respond to emails requesting comment on whether she will run for reelection…

…Mangino said he was partially inspired to run for the Board of Regents because of the lack of transparency around the hiring of CU President Mark Kennedy, who is leaving on July 1 after two years on the job.

The political maneuverings around this particular seat are interesting in part because of who holds the position currently: Heidi Ganahl, the sole remaining statewide Republican elected official who is a likely GOP candidate for Governor in 2022. As The Colorado Times Recorder noted last week after the Camera story, Ganahl has repeatedly refused to respond to questions about her political intentions in 2022, though she is clearly working hard to raise her profile in the meantime.

Heidi Ganahl

Ganahl recently stuck both feet in her mouth on the subject of departing CU President Mark Kennedy, who seems to have been widely disliked among both the faculty and student body at Colorado’s flagship university. Ganahl’s statements on Kennedy will hurt her candidacy for whatever office she seeks in 2022.

But Ganahl may not have to choose between running for re-election as Regent or taking a shot at Governor. The seat that she currently holds may not even exist in 2022.

As Langford reported earlier this week, the makeup of the CU Board of Regents will change with Colorado’s redistricting process. The first group of nine CU Regents in Colorado were elected in 1974; at the time, Colorado had six Congressional districts, which meant one regent per CD and three statewide “at-large” positions. When Colorado was awarded a Seventh Congressional District in 2001, there was a corresponding change that added another Regent position from the 7th CD by reducing the number of at-large seats from three to two (eliminating the at-large seat then held by Maureen Ediger).

Colorado’s population has grown enough over the last decade that our state will get an 8th Congressional District, which will be up for grabs in 2022. This will likely alter the CU Board of Regents in the same way that adding a 7th seat changed the makeup in 2001. Ganahl’s term as Regent expires in 2022, but the other at-large seat (held by Democrat Lesley Smith) isn’t up for re-election until 2024; the obvious move here will be to eliminate the at-large seat held by Ganahl and turn it into a position representing the still-to-be-determined CO-08. The decision on changing the makeup of the CU Board of Regents will ultimately be up to the state legislature.

These changes will complicate Mangino’s plans for 2022, but it should clarify things where Ganahl is mentioned. Ganahl won’t say whether she will run for re-election in 2022…but that’s the wrong question to ask.


5 thoughts on “Running for a Seat that May Not Exist

  1. At the risk of another dismissal from any former regents out there, I still think the board should expand to 11, for a few basic reasons.

    Having one statewide regent for 5.8 million people just isn't great representation, and it's not like this single regent would hold an executive position.

    The mechanism for having 3 statewide regents still exists in statute, it was just updated with a new section when we got the 7th district. Of course you'd have to amend the Constitution to go from 9 to 11 total members. You already have to do something with statutes to account for an 8th district.

    Colorado's gone from about 4.1 million in 2000 to about 5.8 million now. Growth can justify more representation, and more representation can provide additional voices or capacity to take input from the people.

    1. Frankly, 2Jung, a bigger board would be unwieldy.  How do you "represent" six million people?   In any event, how is the need of a student from Haxtun different than one from Pueblo?

      Frankly, I think the appointed trustees of the state colleges and CSU have done better than the elected regents.

      1. Agreed on the trustees part.

        I don't think going from 9 to 11 would be that unwieldy. CU's got like a $4.5 billion annual budget, 104,000 square miles, approaching 6 million people – there would still be plenty of work and stuff to talk about if split 11 ways, and I've seen other local governments with nearly as many members yet for far smaller budgets and areas.

        The student from Haxtun still has a different congressional district regent than Pueblo (for now), so they have regional representation in that way. Not being from Haxtun or anywhere close, I'm not sure what their regional needs are, but their district regent can provide a localized voice and try to better meet localized needs.

        Maybe 1, 2, or 3 statewide regents wouldn't really "represent" 6 million people, but having more than one would probably provide some diversity, at least geographical if not otherwise. If we go back to one we get a statewide regent from Boulder (incumbent in 2024 if she runs again too) to go with the Boulder regent from the 2nd district. Great if you're from Boulder, you get 2 of 9 on the board as has been the case several times in the past, but maybe that's not so great for others.

        If we went to more statewide seats, the statewide regents might split up the work that isn't regional in nature, more candidates would campaign throughout the state, maybe there could be better constituent interaction, maybe more interest in what the CU system does.

        And I frankly don't care that much, but my main thought was that I don't like the idea of only one statewide regent. Two was OK but keeping that would create an even-numbered board. So I'm interested in 3.

  2. Increasingly, I gotta wonder about the benefits of having an elected Board of Regents for the University of Colorado's 4 campuses.  What do they DO?  How do they add value?

    Back when there was substantial state-based funding for the schools, control by the Regents made sense.  In FY 2020-21, however, Direct State Funding to the schools is $120.0 million, which is 2.6% of the overall budget.  If you add in CARES Fund revenues pushed through the state (and making up for the state budget cuts this year), there is another $153.5 million, 3.4% — a total of ~6%. 


    1. We pretty much need to have some type of governing board. CU regents oversee a huge budget, even if the revenue isn't very much from the state government, and budgeting is very much about allocation.

      The possible benefits of an elected board – they have to campaign before "the people," once elected they give the people a representative to contact and provide input, and if they don't do what the people want they can be pressured while in office or voted out. CU's got a president and high-level staff, and if there isn't a board to question the system's decisions, the system might have carte blanche to carry out what the people who elect the regents might not want. As we've seen, regents hire or fire presidents, and there can be staff or organizational changes with new administrations that influence the university's operations.

      Now, let's say we go to an appointed board of regents, and Ganahl wins the governor's race, becoming able to make regent appointments. We might learn to appreciate elected regents real quick!

      Your question – do the regents add value – is fair and I'm not sure the last board didn't actually do some damage to the university's reputation. The regent's website has some info, and if you check this link you might ponder their university affairs committee or governance committee to get insight into what they do beyond finance.

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