With 17 candidates on the ballot this race isn’t like any in recent memory. The introduction of the Fair Election Fund has allowed more people than ever to run, and Denverites are taking advantage of it. The consequence of everyone trying their hand at running for mayor is that voters have never been so split. No candidate has yet received more than 8% of the vote, and the vast majority of voters are still undecided. If you’re reading this from Denver, the chances are you don’t know who you are putting on the runoff ballot yet (it will come down to the top two). Yellow Scene Magazine interviewed candidates on the most important issues facing the capitol to help you make an informed decision.
YS isn’t based in Denver, we focus on North Metro and BOCO, so we don’t have a dog in this fight. We are disconnected observers so we can give you perspectives different from the other organizations covering the race. However, don’t think that we don’t care about the outcome of this race. We may be based a little further north, but this race still matters to us. Denver is the center of Colorado, and the policies there will impact all the surrounding towns eventually. For Denverites, the race is even more critical as it will decide what direction the city goes after Mayor Michael B. Hancock. With affordable housing and homelessness on everyone’s minds, now is the time to get invested in the election.
No candidate has more than 8% of the vote, which means Denver’s next mayor might not have the support of over 90% of the population. If you live in Denver, the only way you can stop this outcome is to get informed. Luckily, we’ve got the details to prepare you for election day, as well as our endorsements for who we think will be best for the job. Good luck and Happy Voting.
In a race as tight as this, it’d be presumptuous to assert that any one candidate is a clear front-runner. However, some are definitely pulling ahead of the pack. These primary candidates have developed policies, possess relevant experience, and secured funding for their campaign.
The candidates and their responses to the questions are listed below. Additionally, underneath their responses will be a small editor’s note for each candidate to contextualize our positions on them. Although YS doesn’t typically explicitly comment on the candidates in our election guide beyond giving endorsements, a sizable pool of top candidates combined with a largely undecided voter base has led us here to believe it best to provide our insight.
(D) Lisa Calderon – ENDORSED
Life Experience and Leadership: I am a fourth-generation Denverite who grew up in poverty from teenage parents, a Mexican American mother, and a black father. We lived in the projects on food stamps. I really understand that our public housing system really needs to be overhauled. If we go to a social housing model, that means that someone like me growing up could have been in a housing unit where you couldn’t tell who was rich or poor just from the looks of it. Everyone would have great amenities and buildings would be up to code..
I was also homeless as a teen when I was put out of the house by domestic violence from my parents, and in some ways, it felt like a safer option. Of course, that created its own problems: lack of food, shelter, and couch-surfing. I experienced all of that.
I’ve been a 20-year service provider for 12 years as a domestic violence legal director and advocate. I also ran the city’s Reentry Program. I know the perspective of having experienced homelessness and having provided service for decades for people in that area. I really take the other candidates to task when they don’t know what they’re talking about, especially when they are trying to criminalize people for being poor.
Top 3 Issues: Homelessness & Affordability, Safety, and Inflation
Homelessness: Hancock’s housing and homelessness policies have been a disaster. I’d completely revamp our approach.
I’d immediately repeal the encampment ban and replace the sweeps with crisis intervention responders. Instead of just moving people, they’d assess the needs of the unhoused and get them into housing.
I’d also focus on converting motels and hotels to permanent housing. I think temporary measures like tiny houses and safe outdoor sites could also be valuable. However, I want to mainly concentrate on permanent housing. I think we need to transition from a shelter first approach to a housing first approach if we want to see long term change.We also need to audit all our city land and buildings to see which ones are being used to their maximum capacity.
A broader policy we need to push for are social housing development authorities. It would be similar to what has recently been done in Oregon. A city-funded independent authority would be created to manage housing development.
I’m also a big supporter of rent control and a range of rent stabilization tools. I would also support landlords who are providing low-income housing units and struggling with paying their own mortgages.
Cities to Learn From: The number one city we need to learn from is Houston. They had a rising homelessness problem, but through the housing first approach, they understood that you need to give people homes with keys that they can lock. Houston’s plan included scaled-up coordination including city agencies — but also working as a coordinating entity with the nonprofits, providing resources for the nonprofits.Houston also scaled up. Denver tends to dabble in many different approaches instead of sticking to what works and scaling it up.
Harm Reduction and Safe Injection Sites: I can’t believe we haven’t implemented them yet. The ordinance was passed in 2017, but it’s still not legal because of our state law. Our current state law focuses on treating addiction as a crime and stigmatizing it when [policy] should instead focus on saving lives. We must look at substance abuse through a public health lens instead of a criminal justice or legal system lens. Once the state legislature approves it, Denver should go through with developing a safe injection site; I support it 100%.
Policing and STAR: I’m a big fan of STAR, but I also think the city is putting a massive burden on a tiny little program. We need to give it resources and scale it up. As far as community policing, I think that it’s a great concept in theory that has not worked in the long term. There are many reasons for that, but mainly it’s because the institution of policing must be reimagined. We are two years past the death of George Floyd and nationally we still have more people being killed by police than before his death. That tells me that our next police chief needs to truly be a visionary and really reimagine the institution of policing.
Economic Vision for Denver: My vision is a Denver where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, whether you are someone who came here for the tech industry or you’re someone who makes their goods at home. I’m particularly supportive of small businesses. One of the reasons Denver has recovered from recessions historically better than other economies is because of our small businesses. We’ve been able to be nimble and adapt to changing circumstances.
Cost of Living: I want Denverites worried about the rising cost of living to know I’m fighting for you. You need to elect me because nothing is going to change. I waited because I wanted to see a candidate who reflected my values fully in terms of the social justice lens. And what I saw instead were candidates backed by the same people of the current administration. I knew I couldn’t do another 12 years without knowing I’d tried everything to get a seat at the table. The face of the mayor may change, but their policies are rooted in the same thing that we’ve been dealing with in an increasingly unaffordable city. So I stepped in to do something. I need support and votes, so I can help the people of Denver.
Downtown Recovery: I think we need to stop looking at downtown primarily as a business and tourist area. We need to see it as a community. Obviously, there are residences down there, but we need to make sure there is a spectrum of incomes — this is where social housing comes in. We should promote diversity downtown, so we can have that vibrant community life because we know that society is better when we feel more connected. Additionally, our transit systems need to be expanded so that exploring downtown doesn’t require a vehicle, but we’re not there yet. Improving public transit would be a priority for my administration.
Calderón has strong positions on the principal issues of the mayoral race and well-developed solutions. Homelessness and broader affordability issues are weighing on the mind of every Denverite, and Calderón has one of the most holistic approaches to the issues. Many of the candidates implement a part of the many policies Calderón has at her disposal to address homelessness in Denver, however most of the contenders simply lack policies with the same depth as Calderón’s. This likely is in part due to her years of experience working with the unhoused.
Beyond policy, Calderón has proven herself a competent communicator as well as someone dedicated to Denver. She also has strong performances in the political debates she has participated in. In her YS interview, she performed similarly well. Calderón has an earnestness not always seen in politicians as well as an ability to engage in real conversation. She is not limited to a script where she spouts a few talking points. Calderón has the policy, experience, and personality fit for the mayor of Denver.
(D) Mike Johnston – SECONDARY ENDORSEMENT
Life Experience and Leadership: I’ve served as a principal, a Senator, and even a CEO. I think what I was trying to do in each role was build supportive, encouraging communities where people feel like they can be at their best. As an educator, I often had to find the balance between high expectations for people in the community and high levels of support because if you provide expectations without support, then you set people up for failure. And if you give support without expectations, you set people up for mediocrity. I think the goal is to support people in fulfilling their dreams. That means we give them the support and expectations they need. Whether it’s around the school community, public safety, or a micro-community. I think those are all places where we want to find that balance of expectations and support so people can feel successful.
Top 3 Issues: Homelessness, Affordability & Housing, and Public Safety. I’d say homelessness is the single most important issue we’re facing.
Homelessness: . I think we’ve seen things that have worked and others that haven’t. What hasn’t worked is trying to move people one at a time across town. I think the attempt to sweep people off the streets has not worked when there’s no place for them to go because they don’t have access to housing. However, I also don’t think we should leave people sleeping in tents on the side of the street, where they can freeze to death.
I think what we know works is providing housing to the unhoused. That means building what I’ve described as micro-communities— half-acre sites that have 40 to 50 tiny homes on them— where people can get full wraparound services, mental health support, addiction treatment, workforce training, and long-term housing support. They’ll be places where people can be in safe, stable, heated, and protected environments. I would build those around the city. The thing that I think we’ve missed is how this plan respects communities. When people are part of a community that is on the streets, they want to preserve it when moving to a healthier, more stable place. So this allows them to open to a micro-community with 40 to 50 units, so we transition clusters of people to a safer and stable environment. That’s an approach that we know we’ve used before and has worked very successfully and can work at scale.
Cities to Learn From: I think I learned the most when I was in Austin, Texas. They have a place there called Mobile Loaves and Fishes. It has tiny homes, mobile homes, RVs, and all different structures. However, it also has a real sense of community and stability. It’s a much larger site, a 60-acre campus, so I think that part of it is not practical for us. But I’ve seen the places where this housing exists, where people live in safety, stability, and a community. When you add the wraparound services, it feels really dignified and protected, and successful. And that was part of what inspired us to try that here in Denver. I was the head of the foundation for the last three years, and we led some pilot projects with partners to do this. It was very, very successful. So I mean, this is not just an idea that we think might work. It’s an idea we know has worked. We’ve already shown it to work
Harm Reduction and Safe Injection Sites: I support harm reduction as a strategy, but I don’t currently support safe injection sites. I don’t think it’s the first important step for Denver to help take on this problem. I think the much more essential step is to help get more people access to treatment and focus on reducing the public use of drugs and the distribution of it.
Policing and STAR: I think my entire focus on policing is built around community policing, on reestablishing relationships and partnerships with neighborhoods. I want officers to protect and serve while also being community members. I’m also an advocate for restorative judgment. I think it’s important for people to focus on repairing the harm they’ve done because it’s the most important thing to come to grips with. I think it’s really helpful for offenders and victims. I’m a big believer in STAR as well. It’s worked really well to have first responders with mental health and law enforcement because sometimes an officer can trigger a more extreme reaction from someone in a mental health crisis.
Economic Vision for Denver: My vision is to build a city that is economically thriving, and that is equitably thriving. That means creating an ecosystem that encourages people to launch and grow businesses. It means an ecosystem where people can get access to job training they need to get into middle class jobs. And it means one where we see that growth reaching all corners of the city, and not just select neighborhoods or demographic
Cost of Living: I was the lead author of Proposition 123, a ballot measure we passed last year to try to provide statewide funding for affordable housing because we have such a crisis in Colorado. Right now. 50% of Denverites can’t afford to live in Denver. The biggest driver in people’s costs is housing. That’s why I would build 25,000 more permanently affordable housing units in Denver, meaning you would never have to pay more than 30% of what you make to your income in rent. That is my biggest priority in housing and affordability. If we get that right, we can make Denver the first big city in America where working-class folks can still afford to live. My second priority is to move us away from fossil fuels and onto electric energy. Utility bills are another large expense for people that can be lowered with a move towards electric energy that is more green and affordable.
Downtown Recovery: Downtown must be revitalized because once the center collapses, the city dies from the inside out. Resolving homelessness is critical since it’s perceived as a major reason to avoid downtown because people don’t feel safe or comfortable. That also comes with a more significant police and first responder presence downtown, so people feel like they can go for a run at nine o’clock at night. It’s about a lot of incentives to bring workers back downtown. I’ll reduce fares on public transit for commuters and incentivize childcare facilities to be put on-site in workplaces; so people have a reason to come back down with their kids. We’ll look at how we can reuse some buildings occupied for residential or other public goods. We have a real obligation to revive downtown very quickly.
Johnston is another candidate that has put in strong efforts in developing a plan to tackle homelessness in Denver. He has been tested and has proved the merit of micro-communities before, so we are interested to see how his project scales up. If he can meet even one of his high goals concerning affordability, Denver will be in great shape. We also appreciate his focus on community both the housed and the unhoused. We don’t agree with every position held by Johnston, but he’s a quality candidate with well-thought-out beliefs. During our interview, he was able to clarify and answer tough specifics on his plan — something most candidates are not prepared to do. There are a lot of candidates trying to split the difference between progressiveness and centrism. Johnston is the only one that threads the needle well.
(D) Kelly Brough
Life Experience and Leadership: I’ve worked for the city two times in my career. Early on, I worked for the Denver City Council and the personnel department for the city. Then I came back for the Hickenlooper administration. I was the head of HR again in the personnel department and his chief of staff. I think I’ve learned from my experience just how huge the city is. More than that, I understand how incredible the city’s workforce is. I have such respect for them. I love being one of them.
Top 3 Issues: Homelessness, Affordability, and Community Safety
Homelessness: When encampments pose a public health problem, the city notices that they have to move [unhoused people] along, so we sweep them across the street, down the block to the next neighborhood. We do it all again a few weeks later. I think it’s incredibly inhumane and ineffective. It doesn’t improve the living conditions for people who are unhoused or the neighborhoods where they’re living. It was also expensive. We just keep doing it: sweeping people. I’ll end sweeping and instead focus on getting people to housing and shelter at safer locations. To do that I will temporarily sanction safe outdoor sites so we have a safer place for everyone. We can’t get everyone indoors right away.
Cities to Learn From: Houston realized that you can stabilize unhoused people with jobs really quickly if you get them into homes again. I think that was a good lesson about getting people rehoused quickly. Washington DC and Kansas City have taught us important lessons about prevention. It’s much less expensive to support families before they lose their housing. It’s all about whether we can predict who may be at risk and partner with them before they lose their housing. These cities also highlight the importance of collecting more data on the unhoused, so we can make more informed decisions.
Harm Reduction and Safe Injection Sites: My husband struggled with addiction our entire life together, we were married for 25 years. I know how hard it is every single day to figure out how to love and support someone but not enable behaviors that are destroying someone you love and your family. My personal experience causes me to say I don’t support safe injection sites because it crosses that line of enabling that was just so hard for my family. That said, I also don’t pretend that any one of us knows exactly how to best support someone who’s struggling with an addiction. So I have visited the Harm Reduction Center to learn more, my heart is open, and my priority is saving lives.
Policing and STAR: I’m particularly interested in restorative justice; I think it’s powerful. I got the chance early in my career to work with a woman who really has led this work, and that experience stuck with me.Concerning the STAR program, I’ll just add when you look at the data in our 911 Call Center, it’s clear, we can expand that STAR program. I would expand it by at least 50% right out of the gate based on that data, and I would monitor it to see if our 911 calls continue at these volumes. I think there’s an argument to be made to grow it even more, and I would grow it based on the data.
Economic Vision for Denver: We need companies to choose us to bring in great jobs. One of the things I would do as mayor is make sure I’m helping sell our city as a place where companies should make that investment. I also know what really builds a great city is the diversity of the city. Meeting people they wouldn’t have otherwise met and experiencing each other’s culture is powerful. They are the things that build a powerful city. Every single decision I make about our city’s future would be around how do you build a city, so social capital is naturally occurring? You’re removing the inequities we see of race and gender in our economy. We’re creating this really sustainable city, and by sustainable I mean in every way, not just environmentally sustainable, economically stable for all of its residents. That’s my vision.
Cost of Living: I’m interested in building entry-level homes for our own residents instead of trying to get the private sector developers to make them. I want to take publicly owned land, the parking lots to libraries, rec centers, police stations, and public schools, and build on them. I saw this in Germany, where they built on top of a parking lot while maintaining the parking. They had basically these big pillars that took four parking places, and they had 100 units.Additionally, our downtown has a lot of office buildings that don’t have enough people. I would look into transitioning those office buildings to residential buildings. Not only could we now build a real neighborhood downtown, but we could even build it with income levels that invite all the workers who work downtown to decide if they’d like to live there.
Downtown Recovery: On one hand, we need to accept that things have changed, and working from home is the new normal for many. However, I think we should invite small businesses and young entrepreneurs to use space downtown to start their businesses. Since there’s so much vacant space, I think this could be really a way that we revitalize our downtown and make it not only bring people back into it but also introduce a whole another generation into business opportunities. I also would make sure that we continue to keep businesses down there making investments in our downtown, whether it’s the retail or restaurants, or the companies in the office buildings, that we address the concerns that are causing them to leave downtown. We need to make it so you feel comfortable riding the trains to come into downtown, so that we continue to ensure we have vibrant sports and cultural experiences.
This doesn’t seem like the right moment for a candidate like Brough. Denver needs someone who can dramatically shake things up, and she isn’t that type of candidate. It’s likely few things would change under her administration. While we’d usually be happy to see someone running with experience, Brough’s status as a long-time political insider only further cast doubt on her ability to move away from the status quo. Brough’s time as CEO of the chamber of commerce further begs questions about her commitment to business interests.
Strong policies could shake any doubts we had, but we have many concerns about her policies, and her interview with YS did not ease them. When we got into the nitty-gritty of logistics there was just a lot of uncertainty about Brough. We are particularly skeptical of Brough’s plan to seize the parking lots of libraries, rec centers, and police department’s develop affordable housing. She claims she can build on these lots without losing significant parking spaces. She also claims she funds these buildings with no increase in revenue. Brough also isn’t one of the candidates advocating an audit. We simply don’t know how the math will work out, and our interview did not ease this or any other of our policy concerns. Beyond this, we don’t think Brough is pushing for a large enough change to put a dent in this issue. For homelessness, Brough advocates for involuntary commitments, wrap-around services, and sanctioned outdoor temporary camps. Brough’s policies lack the vision or detail of Johnston or Calderón’s plans.
(D) Chris Hansen
Life Experience and Leadership: I have an interesting mix of experience as someone who has worked both in the private and public sectors. Not a lot of people can say they’ve seen both worlds as I have. To run a city you need to be able to come at these issues from a variety of perspectives. I already know this well from my time as Senator. I think that my mix of experiences gives me a balanced view that allows me to better consider the tough issues facing Denver today.
Top 3 Issues: Homelessness & Affordable Housing, Public Safety, and Environmental Sustainability.
Homelessness: What I advocate for most is balance. We need to acknowledge both what is and isn’t working. We cannot be successful if open camping is allowed. To keep people from sleeping on the streets, I support the sweeps. However, I think an encampment ban must be combined with the appropriate wrap-around services. We’re currently failing to connect resources for shelter, services, and support to those who need it. We must do more to bridge this gap.I’d also like to see Denver revalue its budget. We’re spending $250 million trying to address homelessness despite not seeing major improvements. That’s why I advocate for an audit of our major programs. I think we need to reevaluate how we’re spending our money and really look at what the data is saying. That’s why I’ve advocated for evidence-based budgeting here as well as at the state level.I want to bring focus and consistency to Denver’s approach to the unhoused.
Cities to Learn From: San Antonio has made impressive strides in reducing homelessness. San Antonio has found success by using many of the policies I advocate for. They’ve banned public encampments while connecting their homeless population to relevant services. They’ve also sanctioned an outdoor area for the unhoused to easily find these services. We need that combination of housing, a camping ban. and wrap-around services.
Harm Reduction and Safe Injection Sites: I’m in favor of harm reduction, but I’m not currently supportive of safe injection sites. The current data suggests that they are not effective ways of dealing with addiction. Safe injection sites just don’t seem to be very efficient.
Policing and STAR: So far, we’ve lost about 3 million dollars from lawsuits against our police department. That’s just not effective spending. I’m for restorative justice and community policing. I also want accountability for our police. We need to rebuild and reinvest in our police, so they can be better equipped to protect our city.I’m also supportive of the STAR program. It seems to be effective. Our police cannot and should nor respond to every crisis situation and it’s great we have another option.
Economic Vision for Denver: I envision a Denver that is interconnected by public transit. That’s green pushing toward its sustainability goals. And most importantly, that’s safe. Where people feel comfortable going on jogs or letting their kids run around.
Cost of Living: Denver doesn’t look like Denver anymore. That’s a concern I often hear echoes when talking to voters. As the rising cost of living pushes out our working-class families, Denver becomes more and more unaffordable. These fears only grow more reasonable. I want voters to know I hear their concerns and have the policies that fix them. I will push for an expansion of public transit. This will allow people to access more of the city without needing to spend gas money. I will also push for the expansion of new affordable housing units. Another important piece here is sustainability. Moving away from fossil fuels isn’t just good for the environment, it’s something that can easily promote the economy. We’ll see an increase in green jobs, and movement away from fossil fuels will decrease the utility bills of citizens. Other candidates don’t often give much air time to green issues, but I think it’s a key part of the puzzle.
Denver will again move towards being more livable. I will not let our working-class families get pushed out. During my time as a senator, I’ve proven again and again my proficiency in balancing the budget. I will take Denver down the path to be a place we can afford to live. I will help Denver stay in Denver.
Downtown Recovery: We’ve definitely seen a hit downtown since the pandemic. The next mayor needs to focus on bringing companies back down town. We need a balance of both big companies that bring high-paying jobs and smaller businesses that bring culture and community to downtown. We also need to see the expansion of public transit. When it’s cheaper and easier to return downtown, we’ll see an increased amount of people return. We also must continue to enforce the camping ban, so downtown remains safe and appealing.
Hansen has a focus on balance metaphorically and fiscally that can come off as delightfully pragmatic. However, Hansen looks less appealing next to other candidates. His answers have often had a more narrow look to them. He’s not a candidate going for a dramatic change or any visionary solution. He’s not the worst candidate, but if you’re looking to see change, his incremental approach won’t get you there.
(D) Leslie Herod
Life Experience and Leadership: We need a mayor that knows how to get things done. As a legislator, I took the bold steps necessary to lead the moment and ensure that we are making changes that affect people’s real lives. I’m really proud of that work and I know that we can work in partnership to tackle some of our toughest issues today.
I also come from my single mom and the army. We struggled to live; I was on food stamps in college. I put myself through school working two jobs. I know what it’s like to struggle and my real lived experience forms my politics. My sister was incarcerated, and that was predominantly due to mental health challenges and sexual trauma that was never addressed. I know what happens when we push people away — those people are my family. I will ensure that Denver has a more humane approach to politics.
Top 3 Issues: Affordability, Homelessness, and Safety.
Homelessness: Denver’s current plan to address homelessness is completely broken, and it’s just not working. I believe we need a more humane approach to addressing and working with our unhoused population. People on the streets right now are asking for housing. They’re asking for mental health support. They’re asking for jobs, and I think it’s essential for the city to address the challenges from a human perspective.
Cities to Learn From: We need to look towards cities that focus on a humanistic approach to addressing the unhoused. We don’t just have to look outwards. We can also look inwards to see what’s already working in Denver. I created Caring for Denver, which funds organizations that provide mental health and substance abuse services. Now in partnership with Caring for Denver, we have the opportunity to really change the infrastructure of support and make sure that our providers, unhoused, and families are cared for.
Harm Reduction and Safe Injection Sites: I support safe injection sites and harm reduction. It’s an essential piece of a comprehensive strategy for addressing substance abuse and mental health problems in our community.
Policing and STAR: Caring for Denver is what we (congress) funded to create STAR. We set out, we stood up, and we championed STAR. We did it alongside community leaders also pushing for the program. We made it happen, and I’m proud of that work. I support expanding STAR. I also support community-based policing. And I support restorative justice when done right.
Economic Vision for Denver: I believe in a city that supports and embraces every single one of us. I especially believe in our duty to ensure that those who have been disproportionately impacted by race are supported. That means more support for our small businesses of color. That means more support for our historically disadvantaged neighborhoods and business districts and that we actually have an economy that supports each other.
Cost of Living: The number one thing that we have to do is make sure that we have a diverse housing stock across all of our communities in Denver. That’s anything from a triplex, to duplexes, and below-market-rate housing in the city. Right now, we’re building for the wealthy rather than ensuring our communities can stay. I’ll focus on making sure communities are centered in the conversation.
Downtown Recovery: We must make sure that we activate downtown. We’ve got to make it a place people want to go to again. We need our small businesses to be able to open up downtown together because when they open up in isolation, it doesn’t drive the traffic. I believe we could set up a program like what we did at DIA, where our local small businesses, especially those of color, are incentivized and supported in opening their satellite location. Or opening right in the heart of downtown Denver. In the first 100 days, I will start to work to bring businesses back down, get workers back downtown, and ensure that it’s thriving.
Herod received a lot of praise for her work in the house of representatives in pushing for bipartisan support for bills. She has popularity and political experience on her side without being considered an insider. However, Herod seems to have underestimated the difficulty of the transition from congress to mayor. During her YS interview, Herod failed to really flesh out concrete policy suggestions. We agree with Herod on the problems she’s identified, but compared to her peers, she lacks a real policy to get the city out of the crisis. Her interview was dramatically shorter than the other candidates reflecting the lack of depth in her answers. She’s done great work as a house rep, we feel her skills serve the public best there for now.
(D) Debbie Ortega
Life Experience and Leadership: A lot of my life experience comes from my family. My dad was a coal miner and was killed in a mine cave-in when I was young. When he was alive, I saw how he helped his colleagues when they were injured and the impact he had on their lives. I also saw after my dad passed that those same people came back to provide the same love and assistance to my family. My mother also impacted the community. She worked in food banks, and lots of times that food ended up on our table. The impact my parents had on families in our community is ingrained in my DNA and who I am. I’ve never considered myself a career politician; I have been a dedicated public servant. And I do this because it’s been a labor of love.
Top 3 Issues: Crime and Safety, Housing Affordability, and Traffic Congestion. I think crime is right at the top of everybody’s mind. We’ve seen unprecedented car theft across our city. We’ve seen deadly drugs, traveling all across the US that are in our city, or on our streets, or in our schools. Guns are causing a lot of violence and crime across our city.
Homelessness: When our city brought forward this no-camping ban, I did not support it because we didn’t bring services to the table. We’ve seen a proliferation of encampments in our city since that time. We’ve been housing people for two years. So we have to have an exit plan. I believe that the exit plan helps bring together our workforce tools with our service providers that get grant funds to be helping people get back to work to be training them, and we’ve got, you know, the skilled trades. We have a number of organizations out in the community that are doing other kinds of training programs. For me, it’s always about wealth, building opportunities, and moving people to self-sufficiency.
As long as we can help people do that, they’re going to be successful standing on their own two feet, and then we can convert that housing to long-term housing for people that will lead it. In Denver. We also need different price points for housing because over time we’ve become very expensive.
Cities to Learn From: So I’ve been to a couple of different cities. I’ve been to San Francisco to see their Delancey Street model, which is more specific to an offender population. But it’s a great model built around social enterprises focused on giving people amazing skill sets and promoting independence. By the time they leave, these people all have skills as managers of different businesses, they understand the financial aspects of it, and they’ve had to order the supplies for the restaurant. They then can use their new skills to be successful in a plethora of professions.
Another incredible model is The Mobile Loaves and Fishes site down in Austin. It’s a combination of tiny homes and trailers that are serving a community. Toyota helped build a facility there where they trained people from the community to work on cars.
Harm Reduction and Safe Injection Sites: I supported legislation for a safe injection site, but we couldn’t do anything to move our harm reduction facility to a safe injection site until the state legislature took action. I know that’s a piece of legislation being talked about right now. Whether that passes or not. I don’t know. We can’t do that until the legislature acts. If they do act, we’ve already passed the legislation that would allow that to happen.
Policing and STAR: I support community policing. I want cops to know people in these neighborhoods at the grassroots level, and it’s important for our kids. It’s important to have preventative programs for our young people of all types, not just recreation, but a whole host of offerings for young people.
I also believe that our police must be held accountable for their actions. I also think that a lot of people in our community want the laws to be enforced. We’ve had too many people affected by their cars being stolen.
Economic Vision for Denver: I want to create a Denver where people have opportunities for the connection that leads to wealth building so that people can reach economic stability. As we’ve seen our city grow, we haven’t the economic wealth be spread equally beyond neighborhoods, and that’s something I want to make sure is resolved.
Cost of Living: The economy and its impacts affect everyone. Our city is no longer affordable for everyone. We need to return to having all different pricing levels of housing. That’s why I’m focused on manufactured housing as a way to bring down costs for renters.
Downtown Recovery: We bring back downtown by focusing on many things I’ve already discussed. We need affordable housing. We need improved public transit to mitigate traffic congestion and ease of movement. We also need to welcome small businesses and offer training programs to promote their development. All of that ties back to the economy, but we need to be intentional in our actions.
Candidates like Ortega are in an interesting place. She has the boost of being one of the few candidates with extensive political experience. However, like Brough, she’ll be scrutinized as someone who may be satisfied with the status quo to help Denver. Not helping matters is Ortega’s approach to communication. She struggles to answer questions. She’s struggled in debates to answer questions directly, she’s struggled in her YS interview, and she has struggled in other interviews. While we enjoyed the conversation with her, she was the only candidate that pushed us to repeat a question multiple times. She’s done great work as a councilwoman, but as long as she is so hesitant to take strong positions on anything worthwhile, we can’t give her our endorsement.
(R) Andy Rougeot – RADIO SILENT – TOO EXTREME
Under no circumstances could we endorse Andy Rougeot. His views on the unhoused are extreme and he approaches problem solving like a hammer.
These candidates aren’t front-runners, but they still might have a shot at the mayoral seat. Their responses to our questions are below.
(D) Ian Tafoya
Life Experience and Leadership: Every step I take is another step on the path of my ancestors and my immediate family. My mother, a social worker and union steward, raised me to love and support my neighbors. Growing up in Denver’s diverse West Side, I connected with so many incredible people, including my own Chicano community, and I’ve carried that connection into my leadership today.
Growing up Denver’s city programs mentored me and shaped me. I rode the bus to my first job at the Museum of Arts and Sciences. I took advantage of the free concerts, arts programs, and youth activities. I went to the Metropolitan State University of Denver where I majored in Political Science with a minor in Native American Studies. These experiences have motivated me to organize policies that improve the lives of my communities: the marginalized and resilient groups traditionally left behind by policymakers.
And as an indigenous person, I am called to reach out in all four directions and bring people together for the sake of our planet and one another. It’s time to make policy with the urgency our communities deserve and for the benefit of the next seven generations.
Top 3 Issues: Environmental justice, Housing, and Public Health & Safety.
Homelessness: I don’t believe our city is investing in effective solutions to our housing crisis. First, I’ve always opposed Denver’s sweeps of homeless encampments. After years of wasting taxpayer money cruelly forcing people from one block to another and back again, the unhoused population has tripled. I founded an organization to provide water and trash pickup to encampments because the sweeps don’t address these public health issues. Second, many of the “solutions” our city invests in, like shelters, are more of a band-aid. We need to audit how we are spending funds and make sure they’re going to effective long-term solutions, and we need to do it in collaboration with unhoused communities themselves.
Research shows the fastest, cheapest way to get people off the streets is to get them into housing with wrap-around services. In 2020, I presented a community plan that leveraged regional cooperation to rapidly get folks off the streets, and as Mayor, I would implement it while expanding programs that have actually been proven to work in Denver. We also have to address our housing crisis so nobody becomes homeless in the first place.
Cities to Learn From: The Cauf Society released a report in 2022 on four cities that have essentially solved homelessness: Helsinki in Finland, Vienna in Austria, Columbus in Ohio, and Salt Lake City in Utah. They all dramatically reduced the number of people who were unhoused by simply housing them rather than providing temporary shelter or preconditions for treatment. Investing funds up-front in a Housing First Model puts a roof over someone’s head first and supports their recovery after that point. Utah reduced the number of unhoused people by 90% from 2005-2015.
Harm Reduction and Safe Injection Sites: I strongly support safe injection sites and view harm reduction as a crucial tool in reducing addiction and drug-related deaths. We can’t punish our way out of addiction and trauma, we have to guide people towards healing. Supervised drug use is the first step to prevent fentanyl overdoses and other dangerous overdoses, as well as reduce the public health risks of using dirty needles and needle disposal. Harm reduction is more than just safe use, though. I would build on Denver Harm Reduction’s existing efforts to supply methadone to help people fight addiction, counseling services and trauma-informed care. We need consistency of care for both inpatient and outpatient addiction services.
Policing and STAR: I strongly support the STAR program, and sat on the task force overseeing its implementation. As Mayor I would expand the STAR program so that they can truly replace police as a response to mental health crises. We need to pair STAR with broad systems of mental health support to ensure continuity of care. I’ll work with communities, experts and law enforcement to identify other areas where we can lessen the burden on police and reduce contact with the criminal justice system.
I also strongly support restorative justice. This is an incredible way to heal our communities, disrupt cycles of trauma and keep people out of jail. Incarceration as it currently rarely solves the social problems and cycles that trap offenders at the onset. In contrast, restorative justice provides opportunities for everyone involved to heal and grow. Iit gives real mental health interventions and treatment a chance to work. Indigenous communities like the Jicarilla Apache have used restorative justice successfully for ages.
When it comes to Community Policing, I need to learn more about the data on its impacts. On the one hand, I believe it can never hurt to have officers understand a neighborhood and care deeply about it. But community policing alone isn’t a solution to our community’s ongoing, chronic, and persistent concerns about police violence. Police brutality still happens in Community Policing models. And communities of color can still be over-policed under a Community Policing model. Finally even the best police officers are not necessarily the best solution to many of the problems we expect them to address. I believe we need to also invest in non-police, community-based violence prevention programs that proactively prevent conflict in the neighborhood before it happens.
Economic Vision for Denver: I envision a clean, green city accessible to all, including pedestrians and disabled commuters. We’ll have reasonable rent for small businesses and mixed income apartments where all Denverites enjoy a comfortable home, not just the wealthy. We do this by passing rent control and a vacancy tax, using public banking to build more housing for working families and changing zoning so we can build on parking lots and commercial lots. We’ll make sure there are safe bike lanes, expand electric bus networks and thriving downtown parks. A creative arts scene is visited by locals and tourists alike. We’ll increase well-paying union jobs by supporting collective bargaining for all city workers and as we build a renewable transition we’ll invest in local workers with the highest labor standards. Too often “revitalization” in this city pushes our working families out or leaves them behind. I would make sure current residents lead the way on our city’s economic growth and get to enjoy the results.
Cost of Living: I’m worried about it too. I too am a renter, this is one of our most urgent crises. We need swift leadership that puts people before corporations to address it. First, we need to make sure people can stay in the homes they have by passing rent control and a vacancy tax, so corporations can’t use empty buildings for write-offs. I recently co-led the coordinated campaign to pass ballot initiatives like Waste No More and No Eviction Without Representation, and we need to make sure that initiative is fully funded and enact a moratorium on evicting tenants without legal representation in the meantime. Then, we need to expand transitional housing programs and housing that seniors, the disabled, and working families can all afford. I served on the Inter-neighborhood Cooperation Zoning and Planning Committee, Blueprint Denver, and the task force implementing Colorado’s first inclusionary zoning law. It’s time to take that experience to the Mayor’s Office and push things further. We need heavy requirements and incentives for building actually affordable units for working families, allowing commercial zoning to become residential and ease permitting so people can build single-family homes to fit more people.
All this housing construction is a huge opportunity for that construction to be sustainable. It’s also an opportunity to invest in local workforce development and contracting local businesses with the highest labor standards.
Downtown Recovery: We need to lower rent so small businesses can stay downtown, and provide incentives for new local small businesses to move in. By expanding electric public transportation we can also make it easier for both tourists and residents of other neighborhoods to enjoy those businesses and a thriving arts scene. I propose to invest in support for local artists, especially artists of color, to invigorate the downtown cultural scene.
Addressing our housing crisis will also help get folks housed and avert the public health crisis that is the downtown encampments. This will most importantly help the unhoused downtown residents, but also make things easier for downtown businesses.
(D) Al Gardner – RADIO SILENT
(D) Thomas Wolf
Life Experience and Leadership: Fourth in a family of five, with education in science and a graduate degree in finance, broad work experience with most depth in finance, nonprofit work in affordable housing, art, and education, gives me a circumspect grounding in how the world operates and how government can best serve its citizens.
Top 3 Issues: Encampments, Encampments, Encampments.
Homelessness: Should our laws be enforced and should we deliver shelter to our neediest? YES! Are we properly confronting this crisis? NO! This crisis requires the proper allocation of resources to divide and conquer. Since this population has been measured as chemically dependent, mentally ill, and criminal, the appropriate corresponding resources are clinicians, social workers, and police officers, respectively. This triage is the remedy to this crisis. We must acknowledge this as a humanitarian crisis and get this population sheltered; anything less is inhumane and inexcusable.
Shelter is the answer provided by your city on its land and within its surplus buildings. To not shelter Denver’s neediest is inhumane and inexcusable. The big picture is demand exceeding supply. A couple smaller fixable issues are the state needs to address the length of time builders are liable for construction defects, and our city needs to expedite P&Z, building, and fire reviews to lower costs. I also think there is an opportunity with the city balance sheet to assist credit-worthy renters with home ownership and equity creation, which is a double win because it frees up a rental unit.
I have a plan to broaden access to affordable health insurance, which should improve citizens’ budgets for housing.
Cities to Learn From: I have been successful in my business career by setting attainable goals, problem solving within budgets, and having a bias to action. My plan speaks specifically to encampments, an identifiable most needy subset of homelessness, and the solution is city provided shelter. Most cities that are making any progress on this issue see this as the most humane and cost-effective approach.
Harm Reduction and Safe Injection Sites: I am for shelter for those in encampments, so that they then have a chance to make better life decisions and have access to rehabilitative care. To enable bad life decisions has not shown positive longitudinal outcomes so I would oppose these sites.
Policing and STAR: Our city has been paralyzed with lawlessness for the past three years and it is getting worse while we continue to spend over a quarter of our budget on safety. Safety’s job is to enforce laws, protect and keep our streets safe, this department like all departments needs to be instructed on their deliverables, held accountable for their work, and measured on their outcomes. I have met with DA Beth McCann and have attended a fundraiser on restorative justice, the initial outcomes and cost/benefit appear favorable and if indeed proves to be, should be expanded.
To the extent the STAR program helps confront and end encampments by triage of care from social workers, clinicians, and police, when necessary, I am supportive. To the extent it just gives water and socks to enable a continuation of bad life decisions, it is definitely not a compelling allocation of budget.
Economic Vision for Denver: A vibrant internationally recognized mecca that functions effectively and equally for all of its diverse inhabitants. A safe clean smart oasis that benefited from fresh strong competent leadership’s fiscal optimization which in turn generated social awareness and a greener city, with the flywheel of these attributes continuing to compound for the city and the region.
Cost of Living: I would applaud them for their foresight and being budget conscious. Their next step needs to be figuring out how to live within their means, or ideally below, so that they can build savings and equity, to be more resilient to adverse economic trends.
Downtown Recovery: As stated above, the root cause is encampments which make our streets dangerous and filthy, these needy citizens must be removed and sheltered. It is a vivid tale of two cities, upper downtown and lower downtown. Our upper downtown has a high concentration of office space, compounded by the fact that majority of the tenants are car commuters, whereas lower downtown has a mix of office, residential, retail and entertainment, along with a transit hub. We need to support redevelopment of upper downtown to have a winning mix of real estate types and uses. Surface parking lots that are poorly maintained and not landscaped, strike me as upper downtown’s smile that is missing a few teeth.
(D) Trinidad Rodriguez – TOO EXTREME
Life Experience and Leadership: My experience is fundamentally intertwined in how I view the needs of our community, especially given that I’ve been exposed to so many places and moments in this place.
Homelessness is a particularly personal issue for me. In addition to my single mom and me experiencing housing insecurity when I was growing up, my godfather struggled with addiction and was unhoused. All I remember thinking was “I hope there is someone who can protect him from himself and others.”
Top 3 Issues: Homelessness, Crime, Affordability
Homelessness: I support many of Mayor Hancock’s approaches to homelessness, including the urban camping ban. As Mayor, I will continue sweeps to protect health and safety. I’ll also continue the city’s support of the ecosystem of human service and housing providers providing services and housing options. What I will add to the Mayor’s approach is concrete action toward addressing mental health and substance misuse abuse disorders where access to adequate treatment is currently extremely limited.
One of my first acts as Mayor will be to institute a state of emergency response to manage the unhoused crisis in Denver with specific disruptive and transformational proposals to address the crisis. Under my state of local emergency proposal, the city will identify a location and build a temporary field treatment center employing similar strategies to what Denver developed to prepare for COVID surges. Teams will be deployed with qualified mental health clinicians to admit persons who are a danger to themselves and/or others either voluntarily or involuntarily.
We will work with Denver’s Legislative delegation to adopt laws that enable involuntary holds to be used in Colorado to support the completion of the standard of care for mental health and substance addiction disorders necessary to meet a high ethical burden. And to enforce this, I will expand the STAR program to be both proactive and responsive.
Cities to Learn From: There are a number of other major metropolitan cities committing to voluntary and involuntary commitment of treatment-resistant folks living unhoused: San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. As I mentioned previously, this is the right approach and Denver should commit as well.
Harm Reduction and Safe Injection Sites: I do not support these sites, there are more effective alternatives to make a meaningful difference.
Policing and STAR: I support the STAR program, in fact I hope to expand it. Rebuilding trust between our law enforcement community and the Denver community at-large is essential for the success of our city. Our officers need to be doing the job they are trained to do, not more. I also support making STAR more proactive than its current state of responsiveness to help address the homeless crisis on our streets as I previously laid out in my plan.
Economic Vision for Denver: My economic vision is tied to my vision overall is to build a city where every Denverite, regardless of the neighborhood they’re in, can achieve their version of success. This vision is rooted in equity and fairness to achieve affordability and can be summarized with this equation:
Household Income – Expenses = Control of the Future + Stability of Families.
My economic plans are designed to implement this vision by working to boost income by creating and expanding our city’s educational assets to invest in our people’s knowledge and skills while equally accelerating and expanding our efforts to mitigate household expense pressures on the largest line items including housing, food, utilities, and transportation.
Cost of Living: I would say it’s unacceptable. The cost of living has skyrocketed in Denver, and wages aren’t keeping up. I will accelerate the creation of the total housing supply and its diversity, particularly housing stock to meet the needs of the workforce and lowest-income families. Having served on the board of Denver Housing Authority for over 11 years, I helped lead the organization through its first affordable housing bond backed by the city of Denver to speed up the delivery of 5,000 units in Sun Valley, Westridge, and other neighborhoods, and open new opportunities in permanent supportive housing land banking. Denver should innovate this approach to support this development amidst today’s market realities. My involvement on the Blueprint Denver Task Force for three years and my knowledge of capital and development markets have positioned me to catalyze private sector momentum in the supply of so-called missing middle housing types that can be priced to be affordable to moderate-income households. These can be built in medium and medium-low density along high-frequency transit corridors and nodes becoming a large-scale opportunity for our city. Denver also needs to cut red tape and accelerate the permitting process, which involves investing in logistics plans and accountability, which can be through independent contracting and/or resource alignment.
Downtown Recovery: I will prioritize implementing my plans to reverse escalating crime and spiraling homelessness happening downtown. I believe doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results must be avoided.
I aim to convert surplus commercial buildings to vertical mixed-use communities that will add greenhouses, artistic spaces, housing, and office spaces to liven our community. I also want to develop our mobility system to maximize downtown’s full potential as the region’s mass transit hub working with RTD to deliver convenient and efficient alternatives to single occupancy cars.
I have committed to bringing city and county of Denver employees back to the offices, and I see more activation Downtown as a key to making working in offices a worthwhile choice for workers. I’ll be working with many partners to produce weekday Ciclovias, mass wellness activity events including shared streets, and other unique opportunities. As Mayor, I’ll actively push for collaboration between the public and private sectors and community to bring their unique contributions to the table to ensure our Downtown is a success.
Less Prominent Candidates
These candidates are dragging behind in both polling and funding. We don’t foresee these candidates having a strong showing in the election.
(D) Kwame Spearman – TOO EXTREME
Life Experience and Leadership: My parents instilled in me the value of public service, my father worked for the city, and my mother was an educator who rose to be an assistant superintendent of Denver Public Schools. As a proud graduate of Denver Public Schools, I know firsthand the transformative power of a quality education and have always been committed to giving back to my community.
My parents also instilled the values of public service, a driving force in my life. As a Denver native, I have seen this city change and grow throughout my life – and it’s made me fully recognize what a crossroads our city is now at.
As a business owner and CEO, I understand the importance of making tough decisions and identifying new opportunities. My experience turning around the Tattered Cover has given me firsthand knowledge of what it takes to manage a successful enterprise and how to grapple with making tough choices when they are necessary and need to be made. We must be realistic about the issues our city faces and make some pragmatic decisions.
Top 3 Issues: Neighborhoods, Public Safety & Homelessness, and Housing Affordability
Homelessness: Though I commend Mayor Hancock for his work to address homelessness in Denver, I believe that we need to take a step back and take a much more strategic approach to solve this complex issue.
We need to approach homelessness in Denver as a segmented problem, where different populations need different solutions. And we must face the tragic reality that rampant drug abuse is fueling a chronic issue of camping in public spaces. To start with, the camping ban must be enforced, along with our other existing laws.
As mayor, I will accelerate better segmentation and more individualized services for those who need and want them, with a streamlined system to access services such as mental health, addiction, housing, and workforce support. I also believe in expanding the STAR program to improve responses to mental health crises. We can expand on Mayor Hancock’s amazing efforts by creating more units and assigning STAR units in specific neighborhoods across Denver. This will help to provide necessary care to those in need while also addressing the root causes of crime.
We also must coordinate our efforts, launching an audit of current programs so we understand what is working, and reinvesting it. And cease spending on ineffective programs.
Though I believe in enforcing the camping ban, I also believe that we need to take a compassionate approach to address the many causes of homelessness.
Cities to Learn From: I’ve looked at cities across the country to see how they are addressing homelessness and there are both promising practices Denver can learn from as well as cautionary tales. Cities like San Francisco have struggled to address the homelessness crisis, and I fear Denver is headed in that direction. An example of a city taking a better approach to homelessness is New York City. The city provides shelter for anyone who needs it, while also enforcing a stricter approach to public camping and using tools like involuntary holds when absolutely necessary for those dealing with mental health crises. Another example is Salt Lake City, which has had some success working with the state on housing first.
Denver can learn from New York City and Salt Lake City’s approaches, but I also think we need to be mindful of the fact that Denver is very different than both of these cities, and that the solutions that work in the context of New York or Salt Lake City might need to modified to work in Denver, or might not work at all. We need to take a better approach that is more innovative and data-driven to find out what works in Denver. Our current approach is not.
Harm Reduction and Safe Injection Sites: At this point in time, I don’t believe safe injection sites are an appropriate solution for Denver. We need to consider the legality of this in the United States, which has previously prevented Denver from moving forward with this proposal. But even then, I believe that this is not the right way to address the problems Denver faces over the long run.
Policing and STAR: I am committed to ensuring that our communities feel safe and secure. To address the increase in crime that we’ve seen, I believe that we need a clear plan that includes both restructuring the Denver Police Department and expanding our successful STAR program.
To restructure the Denver Police Department, I plan to incorporate policing into my overall Neighborhood Plan, so that police officers specialize in certain neighborhoods and become an active part of the community. This will allow for better relationships to be formed between law enforcement and residents, which can decrease crime and negativity towards the police. I believe that neighborhood policing is the best approach for addressing community safety, and I’m committed to making it a reality in Denver.
Additionally, I believe that expanding our STAR program is an essential component of addressing community safety. This successful program has already shown results, and we must build on that success by dramatically increasing its scope. By assigning STAR units to specific neighborhoods across Denver, we can improve response times and ensure that those in need receive the help they require.
Economic Vision for Denver: As a small business owner, I know that local businesses and workers power Denver’s economy. As the next Mayor, I am committed to building an economy that works for everyone, which starts with supporting, hiring, and building locally.
I have firsthand experience with the challenges that businesses and entrepreneurs face, having saved an independent bookstore, the Tattered Cover, during the height of the pandemic. To help ignite Denver’s economic renewal, I will work to remove barriers that stand in the way of local businesses. There are a number of important policy proposals that I will implement as mayor to power our local economy:
Creating a city fund for seed and emergency capital for locally owned businesses. This capital will be provided with low interest rates and mandatory timelines for efficient deployment. And it will help foster businesses aligned with our Denver neighborhoods.
Seeking to influence large Denver-based organizations to become “anchor institutions” via leadership and partnership incentives. Anchor institutions will pledge to source goods, workers, and IT from Denver neighborhoods.
Elevating the city’s infrastructure to provide worker training for marginalized and student communities, and incentives for local businesses to employ these workers.
Using sales tax dollars to emulate the federal government’s Employee Retention Credit program, which gave tax dollars back to businesses that kept their employees on payroll during the pandemic.
This policy will allow companies to continue increasing minimum wages to their employees, while also lowering their effective labor rates.
Cost of Living: The biggest thing the Mayor can do to impact the overall affordability in Denver is to work on housing affordability. There’s not much a mayor can do about inflation, but as mayor, I can do things to make housing more affordable for people in Denver. My policies include the Vienna Plan, which is a strategy for the creation of affordable housing units. Additionally, I want to streamline the permitting process so that more housing units can be built in a shorter amount of time. This will help to increase the supply of affordable housing and drive down prices.
Denver has grown an incredible amount since I was a kid, and with that has come some growing pains. But there are many exciting opportunities for how we can address this issue. For example, there is still a large amount of unused and underutilized land in Denver, much of it owned by the city.
I will conduct a full audit to see how this land can best be put to use to build affordable housing.
Downtown Recovery: As the CEO of a business with multiple downtown locations, I am particularly aware of the challenges that the pandemic has presented to Denver’s downtown. But now that the pandemic is behind us, we are still seeing downtown being far less active than it was before. The biggest blocker for downtown getting back to where it was is public safety and homelessness. The next mayor has to address these problems and they can no longer be ignored. It’s especially urgent because we are finding ourselves in a vicious cycle where retail shops closing only makes these problems worse.
My focus as mayor will be on improving public safety and addressing homelessness in a compassionate yet effective manner. This means increasing the number of police officers and homeless outreach workers on the streets, creating safe spaces for people experiencing homelessness to access services, and enforcing the camping ban to ensure that our public spaces are clean and accessible to all.
As part of my Neighborhood Plan, I will direct the Police Department to implement more neighborhood policing, where police officers will be assigned to neighborhoods and implement policing policies aligned with the diverse needs of Denver’s many neighborhoods.
(D) Aurelio Martinez – RADIO SILENT
(D) Robert Treta – RADIO SILENT