Denver municipal elections

Colorado Community Media spoke with candidates running for mayor, clerk and recorder, as well as auditor

Posted
Mayoral Election

Below are the candidates running for Mayor. Michael B. Hancock is the current mayor of Denver. He is running for a third term.

Lisa M. Calderón

Is a Denver native.

Profession: Faculty at Regis University in the sociology and criminology departments

Campaign Website: www.Lisa4DenverMayor.org

Why are you seeking this office?

I am running for mayor because I love my city and because I believe Denver can be a city that is more fair, more just, and more equitable for all of its residents. I believe that by working together, we can build a city based on shared power and accountability — one where residents and workers are included in the policy decisions that most affect them.

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I have spent 30 years in the service of others as an organizer, educator, nonprofit director and community leader. I have the heart, the skills and the policy know-how to lead this city in a new direction, one that places people first and prioritizes the needs of women, workers and residents in Denver over the interests of an elite group of political and corporate power brokers. Working together, we will build a city that provides more opportunities for more people and where we all will thrive.

What are the most important duties for the mayor of Denver?

The most important duty for a mayor is to provide for the prosperity of all residents in Denver in an equitable, fair and just manner. The mayor should promote policies that support the health, safety, well-being and revitalization of all neighborhoods regardless of status, income and zip code. As the city’s top executive, the mayor should provide the example for the 11,000 city workers, maintain a system of checks and balances to guard against government abuses, and ensure the fiscal and moral integrity of the city.

What should be done to ensure a high quality of life for residents as Denver's population continues to grow?

Denver’s growth and prosperity works for some, but not for enough of us; our working people and families are being left behind. I will invest the resources we need to make development more resident- and community-driven, with particular attention to sustainability, affordable and attainable housing, and truly multimodal transportation throughout our neighborhoods.

What will be your top priority if you are elected to this office?

The pillars of my campaign are equity, fairness, and justice. A top priority for me is equity for workers and being able to afford to live in the city. I support a livable wage for supporting the basic needs of working families, with a commitment to regular increases to keep pace with the cost of living in Denver. I will implement policies that achieve fairness through accountability, checks and balances, and transparency. We should not have one set of rules for the mayor and another for city workers.

Stephan Evans

Campaign Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Politician/Chairman-Seku-317487221794758/

Stephan Evans did not respond to a request from Colorado Community Media to fill out questions for the upcoming election.

Jamie Giellis

Has been in Denver for 13 years.

Profession: Urban Planning Consultant

Campaign Website: www.jamiefordenver.com

Why are you seeking this office?

I decided to run for mayor after extensive work with neighborhoods across Denver who were struggling with our vast growth and seeing its consequences to their quality of life and opportunity here. Growth that has benefited a few and delivered extraordinary challenges for many. Denver is growing, but we can do it in a thoughtful way.

To grow thoughtfully, we must grow smart. I understand how cities work and the complex problems they face. I have worked in almost every quadrant of this city and with every city agency.

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I have been a champion for building coalitions of community members who can work with local government to improve cities. I’ve helped address challenges large and small by bringing together diverse (and sometimes disparate voices) to find common ground. Common sense and creative thinking are a hallmark of my work.

In my time in Denver, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a diversity of issues – from affordable housing, to zoning and design, environmental issues, safe streets, homelessness, and the arts.

What are the most important duties for the mayor of Denver?

There are three important duties for a mayor:

1. To serve all the people of Denver and ensure my administration is ethical, accountable and transparent. The mayor sets the tone for the rest of the city.

2. To be both a visionary and a manager. The mayor sets the city’s budget and hires every major department head.

3. To be willing to take bold steps to protect EVERYBODY’s quality of life. We must be willing to acknowledge communities that have been left behind, and meet neighbors where they are.

What should be done to ensure a high quality of life for residents as Denver's population continues to grow?

My campaign is focused on five core areas:

1. Managed growth, development, density and design: Good cities understand that planning means allowing growth to happen strategically.

2. Building an intra-city transit network.

3. Get attainable housing built: My focus will be on lifting cost burdens to attainable development, fast-tracking permitting times and reducing fees for affordable developers.

4. Protect our parks and green space, and improve our environment.

5. Thoughtful solutions for homelessness.

What will be your top priority if you are elected to this office?

When elected, I will immediately address the way Denver approaches growth and development. I will look at zoning and design and how the Denveright plan, if passed by City Council on April 16, will be implemented. I will also immediately begin the process of implementing a Department of Transportation and identifying how we will get transit built. Finally, action on homelessness must be priority action. If Initiative 300 passes, I believe it will become an even more pressing matter for us to manage thoughtfully.

Michael B. Hancock

Has lived in Denver since he was 10 months old.

Profession: Mayor of Denver. Hancock was elected in 2011.

Campaign Website: www.hancockfordenver.com

Why are you seeking this office?

I grew up in Denver. My family moved from Park Hill, to Montbello, to Whittier and then to Five Points when we finally secured public housing. From the age of 12, I wanted to be mayor because I saw how a city could help kids just like me. We have big important issues to tackle. I’m working on these issues because I have something to give back to a city that gave me so much.

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I have the plans, experience and teams of experts to achieve Denver’s affordability, mobility, sustainability and equity goals. No other candidate in this race has my track record, budget plan or understanding of the ways in which the city and community work together successfully. I love our home, and I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished in eight years. I’m truly excited about the opportunities we have to deliver a more equitable, welcoming, and progressive city.

What are the most important duties for the mayor of Denver?

It has been my greatest honor to serve the people of Denver, and I will always cherish the trust and responsibility placed in me. I believe a mayor is responsible for protecting the health, safety and welfare of all people – maintaining critical functions of city government and the infrastructure of our city; improving what makes Denver a great place to live with good jobs, beautiful parks and vibrant neighborhoods; and ensuring economic opportunities for all.

What should be done to ensure a high quality of life for residents as Denver's population continues to grow?

I’ve spent my entire life in Denver, and like you, I’ve watched our city grow. We’ve become a vibrant city, a leader in progressive values with a modern economy. But we must continue to strongly manage the growth so that it reflects all that we love about our home. We have specific plans – created side-by-side with thousands of Denverites – to better preserve our unique neighborhoods, creating a more inclusive, connected and healthy city for everyone.

What will be your top priority if you are elected to this office?

I’m excited to continue our progress to create more equity and accessibility and to deliver a more welcoming, modern and progressive city for everyone. This requires enhancing programs that’ll protect our people and neighborhoods and increase access to opportunity. We’re focused on increasing affordable housing; improving services for those experiencing homelessness; offering more mobility options and addressing traffic congestion; delivering on the Elevate Denver Bond Program; fighting climate change; and ensuring that Denver remains safe.

Kalyn Heffernan

Campaign Website: www.kalyn4mayor.com

Kalyn Heffernan did not respond to a request from Colorado Community Media to fill out questions for the upcoming election.

Penfield Tate

Has lived in Denver for 38 years.

Profession: Attorney

Campaign Website: www.tatefordenver.com

Why are you seeking this office?

Denver is in need of a mayor that will lead Denver’s future. For the last eight years, we’ve had an administration that puts the needs of the wealthy few ahead of the rest of us. As mayor, I will hit the reset button and start tackling the major issues facing Denver. We need real solutions to unmanaged growth, homelessness, traffic congestion, and environmental stewardship. I will bring stakeholders together to craft solutions that work.

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I will lead this city from day one in an ethical and transparent fashion. Having owned a small business, served in the Peña and Romer administrations, was a state representative and state senator and led the Denver Water Board, I understand how city government works, how to move policy forward and more importantly, my administration will be responsive and available to ALL our residents.

What are the most important duties for the mayor of Denver?

The mayor needs to lead and to listen. It isn’t enough to have great ideas. As mayor, I will bring community, policy experts, and stakeholders together to craft a plan to lead Denver’s future. I will recruit and retain the top people in their fields to address the crisis we are facing in Denver and I will have the political will to stand up to wealthy interests to fight for everyday working people.

What should be done to ensure a high quality of life for residents as Denver's population continues to grow?

Over 80,000 people are moving to Denver each year. I believe the city has a responsibility to make sure that we grow in a fair and equitable way that is compatible with our vibrant and diverse neighborhoods. Growth has to be designed, planned, and managed in a way that works for and with us and not just done to us. Development must include a range of attainable housing options as well as green space in our city.

What will be your top priority if you are elected to this office?

Our city has too many dire needs to have a singular priority. However, my administration will be particularly focused on helping the homeless off the street in my first 100 days, as well as sitting down with developers to set new rules and standards for development of affordable housing.

Clerk and Recorder

Below are the candidates running for the office of Clerk and Recorder. The current clerk, Debra Johnson, announced plans to retire in 2017 and is not seeking a third term.

Paul López

Is a Denver native.

Profession: Denver City Council member for District 3 in west Denver.

Campaign Website: www.lopezfordenver.com

Why are you seeking this office?

I started registering voters and ensuring everyone has access to the ballot at the age of 13, and I’ve never really stopped. I have a passion for civic participation and ensuring every voice in our community is heard. I’ve dedicated my entire career to serving the city I love and I believe that I can build on the outstanding work the clerk and recorder’s office has been doing while bringing in some new ideas and a fresh approach.

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I have experience to hit the ground running on day one. I am a three-term city councilman who has spent 12 years serving the people of Denver and fighting for people and neighborhoods. I have more than two decades of experience forming partnerships in communities across Denver. I am proud to say that I’m born and raised in the city that I serve. I grew up poor, working to pay my own way through college, and spent my life organizing for equal access to the ballot in Denver neighborhoods.

What are the most important traits or skills for the clerk to possess?

As Denver clerk and recorder, I believe that the ability to put together an effective team of leaders and having an ambitious vision for the office are necessary to build on the amazing work that the office has been doing. Having served in the City Council for almost 12 years, I also know how to interact with the mayor’s office and council to fight for the priorities of the clerk’s office and secure the funding necessary to act on those priorities.

What must an effective clerk accomplish?

The Denver clerk and recorder not only needs to manage multiple departments and ensure they’re running smoothly, but continually improve the work that is being done and enact a vision for the office. The clerk needs to be active in the community and expanding voting access and participation. They need to be arming residents with information to prevent unnecessary foreclosures. The clerk also needs to protect the integrity of the voting process in the next elections.

What will be your top priority if you are elected to this office?

Expanding access to the ballot, implementing campaign finance reform, preventing foreclosures, and improving access to city records are among my top priorities. I want to fundamentally reimagine and expand the way the clerk and recorder’s office and election division interact with our communities and ensure that Denver remains the best place to vote in the country especially. I also want to make sure that city contracts and the business that the city does more transparent and accessible to the public.

Sarah McCarthy

Has lived in Denver since 1980.

Profession: Historic preservation consultant

Campaign Website: www.mccarthy4denverclerk.com

Why are you seeking this office?

I am not seeking this office as a platform to run for future elective office, but as an opportunity to put three decades of experience in community, government and nonprofit organization administration to work for the residents of Denver. I also bring decades of experience in dealing with voting and electoral process issues (fair elections, voter information, access for special populations, voting methods and technology, including security issues) as a member and officer of the Denver League of Women Voters.

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I am a professional public administrator who has worked for the City of Denver and the State of Colorado. I have managed complex government budgets, construction budgets, and nonprofit budgets. I have designed and successfully implemented government processes. My experience in construction management and rehabilitation of historic properties, including low-income housing, has made me familiar with the real estate document recording aspects of the office and with Denver neighborhoods.

What are the most important traits or skills for the clerk to possess?

To be effective, the clerk needs to know how to manage complex public budgets. I have done that.

The position also requires someone who knows how to upgrade technology, and to design and implement new systems and processes. I have done that. It also requires someone who knows that Denver is a city of neighborhoods and who understands neighborhood differences. I have lived and worked through these differences: professionally, as a volunteer and community activist, a preservationist, a DPS parent, and as a neighbor.

What must an effective clerk accomplish?

An effective clerk is expected to lead an office that provides efficient and timely services and to oversee a secure and problem-free elections process. However, to be most effective, a clerk must make ongoing efforts to analyze performance data and map it to determine who the office is serving and to see, as well, who the office may not be serving and why. Are there problems serving special language populations or differently-abled populations, for example.

What will be your top priority if you are elected to this office?

My top priority, in addition to continuing to provide high-quality service for all functions of the office, will be to address the implementation of the voter-approved Fair Elections Fund. It is critically important that this matching funds process be established from the outset with an identity of transparency, effective communication, and integrity.

Margaret Perl

Has lived in Denver since 2010.

Profession: Public interest lawyer

Campaign Website: www.perlfordenver.com

Why are you seeking this office?

I am running for Denver clerk because I’ve spent my legal career working to make government more open and accountable to all people, not just the wealthy and well-connected. For 15 years my focus has fighting for people in the core areas of the Denver clerk’s responsibilities: voting rights, campaign finance, public records access, and government ethics. For years, I’ve also helped people frustrated by trying to access public information or records being stopped by fees and other hurdles to finding what they need.

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I am passionate about connecting people with their government to increase community participation in governing, and have a track record of bipartisan success in passing and implementing reforms and increasing government accountability and transparency. At the local level, I have collaborated with the current Denver clerk and City Council to improve transparency of city lobbyist reporting, update the code of ethics, and modernize Denver’s campaign rules to reduce the amount of “dark money” in city elections.

What are the most important traits or skills for the clerk to possess?

The clerk should have experience in the technical areas that the office oversees, such as elections and public records, and be committed to making services and information accessible to all residents without regard to political considerations. The clerk is an important representative of the city working with the secretary of state, legislative leaders, and the other county clerks across Colorado in elections, public records, and land recording or public trustee issues and must have relationships and the ability to lead if necessary on measures at a statewide level.

What must an effective clerk accomplish?

The clerk’s ultimate mission is to connect residents to the city government, not only through direct service offerings like land recordings and marriage licenses, but by supporting public participation in governing on Election Day and every other day when policy is made in our city. My vision for the clerk’s office is one that breaks down remaining barriers to voting for some communities and ensures equal access to public information regarding city decisions. An effective clerk is one who instills confidence in city government.

What will be your top priority if you are elected to this office?

An overarching main priority will be to improve accountability and transparency in city government by integrating the information and accessibility of all divisions of the clerk’s office. This effort will also involve gathering community input on improving the transparency of public records access and searchability of information in the clerk’s office and I will post a full inventory or directory of all public records available, because there are a number of city records that are not advertised as such.

City Auditor

Below is the candidate for auditor. Timothy O’Brien is the current auditor for the city of Denver. He was elected in 2015 and is running unopposed.

Timothy O’Brien

Has lived in the Denver area for more than 40 years.

Profession: Denver auditor

Campaign Website: obrienforauditor.com

Why are you seeking this office?

I am currently the Denver auditor. I am seeking reelection to continue the job I began 3 1/2 years ago. I am a professional, not a career politician. This office is important to Denver, the surrounding metropolitan community, and the state of Colorado. Citizens and businesses moving to Denver want open, honest, and transparent government. This office requires that the auditor posses the highest qualifications, relevant experience, and leadership.

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I am QUALIFIED: B.S.B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago; M.B.A. from University of Colorado; Certified Public Accountant Designations: Chartered Financial Analyst, Chartered Global Management Accountant

I am EXPERIENCED: I have over 40 years of auditing and accounting experience in government. Including more than 11 years as Colorado state auditor

I am free from conflicts of interest: As Denver auditor, I am required by the city charter to adhere to Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAs). These standards mandate that as auditor, I remain independent and objective.

What are the most important traits or skills for the auditor to possess

The auditor must have the management and leadership skills to lead a professional staff of auditors and prevailing wage investigators. I believe the auditor needs to posses the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to conduct audits in accordance with GAGAS. This include the understanding necessary to proficiently apply: a. GAGAS; b. standards, statutory requirements, regulations, criteria, and guidance applicable to auditing or the objectives for the engagement(s) being conducted; and c. techniques, tools, and guidance related to professional expertise applicable to the work being performed.

What must an effective auditor accomplish?

The Denver auditor must conduct financial audits, performance audits, compliance audits, information technology audits, and cyber security audits. In addition, the Denver auditor enforces the prevailing wage ordinance and the recently enacted minimum wage ordinance. The auditor determines if the government has controls in place to identify, assess, and manage risks that can prevent the City and County of Denver from achieving goals and objectives.

What will be your top priority if you are elected to this office?

My top priority is and will be to attract and retain the highest qualified individuals to support the Denver auditor's mission of providing transparent and accountable government to our citizens. Without qualified staff, I cannot accomplish the goals and objectives I have set for the Denver auditor's office.

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