Littleton voters overwhelmingly rejected Ballot Question 300 in initial results on March 7.
Unofficial results released at 9 p.m. showed 71% of voters opposing the measure, which proposed changes to the city charter’s sections about initiatives and referendums.
Specifically, the measure would have reduced the signature threshold needed for citizen petitions that aim to add new laws or challenge ordinances. The measure would also have shortened the timeline for when special elections based on those petitions must be held.
The ballot item started to take shape when a group of residents felt the city ignored their petition and votes regarding the rezoning of the Aspen Grove shopping center for new housing last year.
John Marchetti, who is part of REVision Littleton, a group that led the ballot 300 petitioning efforts, said the measure came up as an effort to “increase (citizens’) ability to be heard by city council."
Opponents of the measure expressed concern that the measure would do the opposite, giving special interest groups an “outsize say” in the city while forcing expensive special elections that tend to have low voter turnout.
In November, city council voted to place the measure on the ballot after the citizen-initiated petition proposing the item exceeded the required threshold of 3,628 signatures.
In February, city council passed a resolution opposing the measure to make it clear that the ballot item came from a citizen-initiated petition, not from council.
Don Bruns, who helped circulate the petition for the ballot measure, said he was very disappointed the city took a stance on the ballot measure.
“If they really believed in fair elections, they would have kept their mouth shut and let the citizens decide,” he said.
He also said the city council is more interested in money from developers than in listening to citizens.
“We moved here because we valued Littleton’s open space character, the greenery,” he said. “This council – the only greenery they love is the money that comes into their pockets.”
Marchetti, who was a poll watcher for the election, said the votes were counted properly, but he was not pleased with the results.
"It leaves the people in the same position they were at before — their representatives not representing them," he said. "We fought fairly, and that says something to our integrity."
Susan Thornton, former Littleton mayor, said she was amazed by the outcome of the election.
"I can't remember when we've had a decision that was that decisive in an election in Littleton," she said. "I'm glad that voters wanted to protect Littleton's charter, which has worked so well for many years... I'm delighted that my faith in the voters was upheld."
Matt Duff, a member of the pro-affordable housing group Vibrant Littleton, said he was excited the voters put their trust in the city’s existing mechanisms to have citizens’ voices heard.
He also said he believes people on both sides of the measure can find common ground of what growth can look like in Littleton.
“I look forward to working with the proponents of Question 300 moving forward as we try to shape Littleton into a city we can continue to love and call home that serves all of its citizens,” he said. “I don't believe the gap between our viewpoints is irreconcilable.”
Editor's note: This article was updated on March 9 to include reactions from more citizens.