Securing more than 56 percent of the vote, incumbent mayor, Michael Hancock, prevailed over Jamie Giellis in Denver’s 2019 mayoral election run-off. Hancock and his administration have guided the development and maintenance of the city for the last eight years and will now have four more years to carry out their vision for Denver. Hancock’s June 4th victory initiates his last term as mayor as the city has a three-term limit for its mayoral position. While most pundits speculated a tight finish in this run-off, Hancock received 91,464 votes to Giellis’ 70,945, giving him a relatively comfortable victory after a highly competitive campaign season.
The 2019 mayoral race became quite contentious as it wore on due to supporters and critics of both candidates being vocal and unapologetic about their concerns with their respective opponent. Up until the first round of results were released on Tuesday night, neither candidate appeared to have a clear advantage over the other.
Just days before the election, the Denver Urban Spectrum and The Weekly Issue El Semanario joined forces to endorse Michael Hancock for his third term as Denver’s mayor. The founders of the respective publications, Bee Harris and Chris Frésquez, met with Hancock at La Alma recreation center on May 31st, to hold an endorsement press conference. In large part, these two well-established, people of color focused, news publications cited Hancock’s accomplishments, long standing relationship with communities of color and concerns about the political aptitude of Gieles as reasons to endorse Hancock.
While reading her endorsement statement, Harris indicted Giellis for having “a poorly run campaign with mistake after mistake” and noted that “her actions of today show us how she would run the city tomorrow.”
Giellis’ various blunders regarding race issues during her campaign raised red flags for both community leaders. Incidents like Giellis being unable to recall what the NAACP acronym stood for during an interview on the Brother Jeff Show and the surfacing of several tweets that showcased a lack of racial awareness made Giellis an unappealing candidate for these publications. In old tweets, Giellis’ had previously questioned why a city would want a Chinatown at all and made jokes about lowriders and nachos that many found distasteful.
“The mayor’s office is not the place for someone to learn for the first time about how to interact with communities of color,” said Harris during her statement. “Acknowledging white privilege without taking actions to do better and leaning on people of color to handle that aspect of her campaign and teach her how to improve is insulting.”
Not only did Giellis’ seeming lack of cultural competence ring alarm bells for these community leaders, while campaigning, she could not find time in her schedule to attend events hosted by these organizations. Both Frésquez and Harris had reached out to the Giellis campaign to give her opportunities to give her message to their audiences’, but both were declined with Giellis citing schedule conflicts. The Giellis campaign was unable to offer alternative times for her to engage with these publications and the communities they serve.
While addressing Giellis’ dismissal of these forum opportunities Frésquez questioned the legitimacy of these scheduling issues. “Conflicts? Our communities are conflicts?” Frésquez rhetorically asked.
Frésquez also noted his concern that replacing Hancock, who he says “has been longtime advocate for immigrant communities,” with Geilles, who he says did not give strong answers as to her position on immigration, would be problematic for Denver’s immigrant community.
Hancock echoed that sentiment, noting that it is important for those in Denver’s leadership positions to actively embrace all of the city’s communities.
“When you run for an office, you’re running to represent all people, whether its a comfortable feeling or not, whether they have tough questions for you or not,” said Hancock.
During the press conference Hancock reiterated the importance of having these publications and vowed to continue to work in partnership with them after the election.
He reiterated the importance of having an “inclusive” Denver and noted that this was a particularly important endorsement to receive due to the legacy of the Denver Urban Spectrum and The Weekly Issue El Semanario. Hancock is a Denver native and says that this experience has given him a great appreciation for what these platforms add to Denver’s media ecosystem.
“These are important endorsements because they represent the diaspora of our great city,” said Hancock. “We grew up in diverse communities. We choose to live in denver because of its diversity and rich heritage.”
Harris and Frésquez did not pretend Hancock had been perfect during his campaign or tenure as mayor but rather asserted that he was clearly the best choice in the run-off. Frésquez endorsed candidate Dr. Lisa Calderon early in the election, and Bee Harris, rebuked sexual misconduct in the workplace but both acknowledged that they believed these concerns did not detract from Hancock being the clear choice in Denver’s 2019 mayoral election.
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