In a crowded field of folks vying to be Denver's next mayor, Eric Jon Zinn has one particular candidate in his sights that he's hoping to beat:
The 17th Street tax attorney wants Denverites to forsake the junk food, get on the bike or into the gym and shed a million pounds or so in his first six months in office.
Improving locals' health is a major priority in Zinn's campaign, along with jobs, education, and what he calls "a sense of community." He brought up the million-pound figure at a recent candidates' forum with the Park People. His still-evolving website is short on details, but the candidate was happy to elaborate in an interview.
Zinn says he wants to set up a program to encourage people to lose weight while collecting pledge dollars from friends for every pound lost. The money could go to the ailing parks and recreation budget or toward fostering healthy meals for schoolkids. (Free breakfasts for poor children recently came under assault by Republican cereal killers in the legislature.)
He argues that getting voters off their big butts and more involved in the city's recreational opportunities will foster more civic spirit. "People who are healthier care more about their community," he says.
But what about all those surveys that rank Denver as one of the skinniest, fittest big cities in the country? Zinn says locals have actually been backsliding over the past ten years, gaining calories and losing ground; he pegs the local obesity rate at 20 percent. "Okay, so we're a healthy community compared to some others," he says. "Why can't we be healthier? When one of five people is obese, that's an issue."
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A million pounds works out to less than two pounds per Denverite. Zinn figures some have more to lose than others, but even a two-buck-a-pound pledge would shake lose a couple million dollars for worthwhile programs -- and provide other benefits to a leaner citizenry.
"It's not like a fad diet," he says. "In six months, you've got to be down in weight and keep that weight off. It's about a change in lifestyle."
More from our Politics archive: "James Mejia: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Doug Linkhart: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Michael Forrester: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Michael Hancock: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Danny Lopez: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Chris Romer: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Carol Boigon: A Denver mayor's race profile," and "Thomas Andrew Wolf: A Denver mayor's race profile."