The area of the Washington Park Profile is covered by several Denver City Council districts: 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10. In June, two new council members were elected to those districts, and three are returning. Councilmembers, Kendra Black, Paul Kashmann and Jolon Clark return to their respective districts, while councilmembers Amanda Sawyer and Chris Hinds are new to the council. They will be sworn in with the rest of the City Council on July 15.
In the August issue, look for our profiles of the two City Council-at-Large members. At-Large councilmembers represent the city as a whole. Both Deborah Ortega and Robin Kniech were reelected this year.
Editor’s note: District 5 includes the Hale, Montclair, East Colfax, Hilltop, Lowry Field, Washington Virginia Vale and Windsor neighborhoods.
When Amanda Sawyer found out about a new development going in up the street from her house, she was startled. But as Sawyer began to try and rally her neighbors to fight the project, many told her not to bother.
“I saw how disheartened people in the neighborhood felt,” Sawyer said. And unfortunately, she also noticed the feeling was mutual throughout the city, saying “So many people in so many different districts feel the same way.”
Although Sawyer said she never saw herself taking on a career in politics, the experience with her neighborhood development felt like a wake up call. She wanted to bring the voice of the people back to the city process.
City Council, which includes five new members, such as Sawyer, will be sworn in on July 15. Sawyer said she is excited to begin collaborating with other city council members. She’s hoping to learn more about projects that re-elected members have been working on to see if there is an opportunity to team up on issues.
“I think everyone brings something special and unique to the table,” she said of the new council.
Although she knows she’s one of the “new girls on the block,” Sawyer said she’s ready to work on some of the issues she’s passionate about such as mass transit and looking at the planning board for development in the city.
She also wants to help push for a new transportation department. City Council introduced a bill last month that would allow voters to decide on a new Department of Transportation and Infrastructure in November. Having a dedicated department will help free up some of the budget items “competing with other equally important things that are demanding of our time and money.”
Infrastructure is a subject that Sawyer said she thinks has not been talked about enough when it comes to development in Denver. While the city has been growing, and a lot of building has been happening, the infrastructure a city needs has not kept up in a lot of places. In District 5, for example, quite a few of the neighborhoods don’t have sidewalks, she said.
Many of the District 5 residents she spoke with during her campaign had concerns about how development could impact the community. While Sawyer said she does want to push for density in some areas, she wants to make sure it’s done with the right infrastructure and transportation options in mind.
“I’m excited to be a voice for balance,” Sawyer said. “This concern about development lead me to all these other things that are equally important.”
That balance is one of the key things that makes District 5 unique. It’s a slower paced community, where kids can get together to play. It’s also close to the heart of Denver and all the things a city has to offer.
“It is both urban and suburban,” Sawyer said. “It is the best of both worlds.”
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