In ways large and small, Councilwoman At-Large Debbie Ortega has been a Denver public servant for decades. A trailblazer, Debbie co-sponsored Denver’s first equal protection ordinance, led the fight to force cleanup of environmental waste in Globeville and Elyria-Swansea, and is still helping struggling Denverites find housing. As our next mayor, Debbie’s decades of experience in municipal public policy, along with her history of standing up to special interests, will help make Denver safer and more prosperous for everyone.
That’s why, as one of Denver’s citywide councilors, she was re-elected in 2019 by a historic margin – receiving 23,000 more votes than the incumbent mayor.
Debbie was born in New Mexico, the daughter of a coal miner who was killed on the job. Raised along with her brother and four sisters by her mother, Debbie and her family moved to Denver when she was 13. She attended Kepner Middle School, graduating from West High School. She attended Barnes Business College and attended DU’s Law School Clinical Education Program. Straightaway, Debbie went into public service – working in Lt. Gov. George Brown’s office and for U.S. Sen. Floyd Haskell. After working for several years as an aide to Denver City Councilman Sal Carpio, Debbie was elected as his successor in 1987, serving until 2003 – when she and nine colleagues were term limited.
After leaving her council position, Debbie became the Denver Homeless Commission’s first Executive Director. She’s also Board Chair for Del Norte Neighborhood Development Corporation, a non-profit that builds affordable housing. She has served on numerous boards and commissions, such as Denver Women’s Commission, Healthy Foods for Denver Kids, Opioid Abatement Council, and Denver’s Crime Prevention & Control Commission. Debbie also co-chaired Denver’s 2020 census.
Debbie was elected to one of Denver’s citywide at-large council seats in 2011, and was re-elected twice thereafter.
While in office, Debbie has been an independent voice for neighborhoods left behind by city hall – standing up to powerful mayors and siding with people on issues such as the 2013 Hentzel Park land swap for a downtown Denver Public Schools (DPS) property, the expensive Platte to Park Hill drainage project that tripled in cost, and in 1991, Debbie blocked a medical waste incinerator that was permitted to be sited in North Denver. She was one of two votes against the Hancock administration’s disastrous Denver International Airport (DIA) Great Hall remodeling plan. Before development of LoDo, Debbie brokered a compromise that brought the preservation community and property owners together that eventually supported removal of a sunset on the creation of the Lower Downtown Historic District.
Debbie Ortega, along with her daughter, Janelle, a Major in Denver’s Sheriff’s Department, and her five grandchildren (one U.S. Air Force and two U.S. Navy veterans) are all products of Denver Public Schools.
The City of Denver’s Municipal General Election is April 4. The last day to register to vote and receive a ballot by mail is March 27. Ballots will be mailed the week of March 13, and 24-hour drop-of boxes will open.
For more information on Debbie Ortega, visit her campaign website DebbieOrtega.com.
- State Plans to Replace Online Program with In-Person Tutoring - March 23, 2023
- Denver Will Gather for 22nd Annual César Chávez Celebration - March 23, 2023
- Why I Support Debbie Ortega for Mayor - March 23, 2023