My take on Denver’s runoff Mayoral election
(May 22, 2019) – On May 7 Denver voters had a pool of exceptionally qualified candidates to choose from as the next Mayor. Challenging the incumbent Mayor, you had three strong candidates capable of ousting Michael B. Hancock had it been a two-person race. The results of the May 7th tally are proof residents of Denver want change. Jamie Giellis received 44,543 votes, Lisa Calderón with an impressive 33,100 votes, Penfield Tate with a more than respectable 26,370 votes while incumbent Hancock pulled in 69,271 votes. Hancock’s 38.65% of total votes fell short of the 51% needed for an outright victory.
A runoff election will be held on June 4th. between Hancock and Giellis, the victor will take charge and lead Denver as Mayor of the city. With the platform set and not a whole lot of time to convince and sway 65,393 votes that went to other candidates, the two candidates have some work to get done.
What you will get with Hancock is more of the same of what we’ve seen over the past two terms. Much of Hancock’s doings have not set well with the poor, middle class and minority folk. High end development has engulfed the city of Denver creating the extrication of residents whom have called Denver home for decades and beyond. Gentrification is hurtful and Hancock has ignored the transformation, many even say he “headed” and supported development leading to gentrification.
- Globeville, Swansea and Elyria are the last of Denver’s highly minority populated neighborhoods and Hancock gave them the kiss of death by floating a billion-dollar bond in support of the Western National Stock Show organization. In pages upon pages of redevelopment and improvements to these neighborhoods, not a single page of support for the existing home owners and residents.
- I-70 project will put high speed traffic in direct interaction with residents. Objections, complaints and resistance from residents in the impacted area fell on death ears with this administration.
- Inner-city youth programs and support curricula are all but nonexistent in Denver.
If you think Hancock will change if re-elected to a third and final term, think again. Term limits will prevent Hancock from running for a fourth term therefore he [Hancock] has to focus on his political career. Most likely things will worsen for the poor, middle-class and minority residents of Denver as Hancock will surely focus on building a war chest for his next step in politics.
What does Giellis bring to the table? We honestly don’t know but you certainly don’t chastise and condemn a person based on what ifs or maybes. Her platform, promises and 180-day plan if elected seem to be right on target:
- Stop the sweeps and work to move our unhoused neighbors to housing and services. This means investing in housing vouchers to help our homeless get into vacant units, providing city land for more tiny home villages, and investing in portable restrooms, showers and lockers.
- Invest immediately on our shelter network. We will purchase beds for all shelters (currently, most have mats) and ensure they are equipped with what they need. We will immediately acquire additional 24/7 shelter space and integrate services to build a larger shelter network with access for veterans, LGBTQ people, couples and people with pets and service animals.
- Combine city housing and homelessness operations via a charter amendment and appoint an expert with deep experience in affordable housing and homelessness who will be part of the Mayor’s cabinet.
- Unite for working families. Provide attainable housing for 200 working families living on the edge of homelessness in 6 months, and an additional 200 units in 12 months.
- Partner with the Denver Housing Authority to expand the Housing Choice Voucher Program to meet the resource challenges of the over 15,000 families on the waitlist.
- Invest in social service workers to go to the streets and work to get people to shelter and services – this should not be the role of the police unless criminal activity is happening.
- Coordinate services – all our service providers for mental health and drug addiction in Denver are working in silos. With the new mental health sales tax passed in November (around $45M per year) we can build new facilities and deploy more resources to get people where they need to go.
- Get people to jobs – we have a labor shortage. 60% of our homeless are working homeless. Many others are willing to work. Let’s expand job services and job training by growing the Denver Day Works Program and other workforce training initiatives.
I stand with Jamie Giellis and urge voters to join me and “Imagine a Great City” (borrowed from former Denver Mayor, Federico Pena)
Aurelio ‘Lelo’ Martinez
Former political, neighborhood activist and more than a decade over a half of century living in Five Points, Mestizo Curtis Park neighborhood.