• June 27th, 2022
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Forum Offers Candidates Opportunity to Speak on Issues


by Chanel Ward

 

With just less than two weeks left in Denver’s run-off election, candidates are making more frequent public appearances. Denver Candidates for Mayor, Clerk and Recorder and City Council District 9 were invited to the Black Community Denver Municipal Run-off Election Candidates Forum on May 18th, sponsored by the Colorado Black Round Table (CBRT), Urban League of Metropolitan Denver, Greater Metropolitan Denver Ministerial Alliance, Colorado Black Leadership Caucus, African American Initiative of the Colorado Democrats (AAICD), Northeast Denver Islamic Center and other community organizations.

Former three-term Mayor, Wellington Webb introduced Denver Mayor Hancock to the small room of about 25 attendees that included State Senator Rhonda Fields, State Representative James Coleman, activists as well as long-time community residents were also in attendance.

“This mayor has demonstrated courage, he’s demonstrated diplomatic skills, he’s demonstrated the ability to pull people together,” said Webb. “Has he made mistakes? Yes, we all have. And one of the biggest mistakes that those of us that are elected do is — especially on the executive level — we spend so much time trying to get the job done, that sometimes we don’t spend enough time within the community reminding you of what we’ve done.”

“The majority of District 9 is saying they want a change in our district and I’m running because the community has asked me to. I’m running because Denver is slipping through our fingers for people of color and people living in poverty and we’ve got to do something to pivot right now.”
Candi CdeBaca, City Council Dist. 9 Candidate

Mayor Hancock thanked Webb for paving the way for him, “I want to thank Mayor Webb, he took the burden off of all of us who follow him. And I’ve never had to answer the question can a Black man serve as mayor of Denver, because Mayor Webb carried that burden and answered the question resoundingly, absolutely! Anyone who has the compassion, the courage, the love and commitment to this city can serve as mayor of this city, if you’re willing to face the challenges that come also with the opportunities.

“I think sometimes we forget where we were in 2008. And my first term was devoted, really, to helping this city recover from the depths of the recession, we were challenged,” said the Mayor.

Photo: Chanel Ward Denver City Council candidate Candi CdeBaca discussed her motivation in running for the District 9 seat.

The mayor remembered his first term as mayor, “I remember very clearly in 2011, sitting with my staff, my senior circle and asking the question and looking at the solution that we need to ‘De-Bruce’ this city and it meant that we were giving the people of Denver, every home owner about $111 a year back, they didn’t even know they were getting it on their property tax statements, we were just adjusting it, they never saw it,” he said, while adding, “but yet the city was running a structural deficit of $80 million. We couldn’t hire a police officer, firefighter in five years, fill a pothole, we weren’t even watering our parks.”

Before taking questions, the mayor ended with, “Folks, we got a lot at stake here, we’re moving in the right direction, this is not the time for us to pause, great cities do not stop or pause their own progress. That’s why I want to go back and finish the job we started.”

Candidate for Denver Mayor, Jamie Giellis did not attend the forum.

Next on the agenda were candidates for Clerk and Recorder, Peg Perl and Councilman Paul D. López.

Candidate Perl began, “The Denver Clerk and Recorders office is close to my heart because it helps run the elections, so voter turnout is something that I have worked on for 20 years,” started Perl.

“I’m running for Denver Clerk because I have spent my whole career working to make government open and accountable to everybody and not just people who are already well connected into the system,” she explained.

Citing his longtime community advocacy, López stressed the importance of community engagement.

“It’s absolutely critical and we have seen that in the last few weeks, why it’s critical that we stay engaged, especially with Latinos and especially with African American’s all over this city.”

Photo: Chanel Ward Councilman Paul D. López, and candidate for Clerk and Recorder, stated the importance of voter inclusion in our communities.

“I’ve been knocking on doors all throughout this City, now its crunch time, there’s a few things I’m running on; one, I want to make sure that we’re expanding the role of our Denver Votes operations,” López said.

“You see, it’s very easy for us to vote, our ballots are mailed, there are drop boxes all over the city, you can put two stamps and put it right back in the mail, it’s a very short ballot, it’s not like a lot of these other municipalities we see. However, there are a couple areas where we need to fix it. One, those drop boxes are nowhere to be found, they’re nowhere to be found in communities of color,” addressed López.

“We have to expand that policy and we have to put more drop boxes down, as your Clerk that’s one thing I want to do,” said López.

“Second, you saw those signatures bounce back, when people didn’t sign their ballot, they’d get notification that they didn’t sign their ballots but there’s nobody knocking on their door saying ma’am you didn’t sign your ballot. That’s up to campaigns to do, I tried getting that information, it’s very hard, that should be something Denver Votes does.”

 

Up last, were candidates for City Council District 9 with Councilman Brooks and Candi CdeBaca.

Councilman Brooks started with, “I have been a part of the Colorado Black Round Table for over a decade now. I campaigned for John Hickenlooper, over 64 counties there was one that I became deeply passionate about and that was Denver. Currently at the time, there was Carla Madison as the city council representative, and I wanted her seat. But I recognized that she was the leader, but unfortunately because of sickness, two months later she died, and I ran for office after she passed away and I don’t know if you all remember, but 38 other candidates ran as well. It was the largest municipal race in Denver’s history, but it was a write-in candidate and we ended up winning on this message right here, ‘what good is diversity if we’re all disconnected?’ We need a leader who can connect our diverse communities.”

Candidate CdeBaca noted her run-off numbers and explained why she is running for the District 9 seat. “We need a government we can trust, and Councilman Brooks has been in office for eight years, he got in as he mentioned in a very peculiar way, in a race that run-off candidates didn’t even break a thousand votes. So here we are, where we are, in a run-off where we have more than doubled electorate turnout and we were less than 1.8 percentage points away from Councilman Brooks.”

Photo: Chanel Ward Denver Mayor Michael Hancock spoke at a candidate forum at the Hiawatha Davis Recreation Center.

“The majority of District 9 is saying they want a change in our district and I’m running because the community has asked me to. I’m running because Denver is slipping through our fingers for people of color and people living in poverty and we’ve got to do something to pivot right now. We can’t afford another four years of the direction Denver has been going in, we need to leverage what has happened in a way that is sustainable,” stated CdeBaca.

 

Chanel Ward is an Independent Reporter for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.

 

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