Found: Someone Who Isn't Running for Denver Mayor or City Council

Auon'tai M. Anderson considered making a bid for Denver City Council before deciding to run for reelection to the DPS school board.
Auon'tai M. Anderson considered making a bid for Denver City Council before deciding to run for reelection to the DPS school board. Courtesy of Auon'tai M. Anderson
Despite rumors to the contrary, Auon'tai M. Anderson just announced that he isn't running for mayor of Denver or an at-large seat on Denver City Council. Instead, he has formally launched his reelection campaign for the Board of Education at Denver Public Schools.

Nonetheless, the mayoral and council races are getting more crowded by the day. So far, 21 hopefuls have filed the paperwork required to run for mayor with the Denver Elections Division, including six in the past fifteen days; 44 candidates have filed to run for Denver City Council. And while five of these individuals subsequently withdrew their names (one for mayor, the rest for city council), that still leaves sixty candidates for voters to consider before the next municipal election in April 2023.

Anderson was expected to be among them. Speculation that the current DPS school board vice president would seek one of the two at-large council seats has been rife for months. But then, on November 17, he retweeted a note from 9News's Marshall Zelinger asking, "Who is announcing they are running for Denver mayor today?" along with the line "Be the first to know" and a link to a web page titled "The Next Chapter." The text at that address revealed that "Vice President Auon'tai M. Anderson is gearing up to make a big announcement and you should be the first to know. Sign up now to be on the VIP list for his big announcement on November 30th, 2022!"

The announcement took a turn early this morning, when Anderson acknowledged that "the Vice President was planning to run for the Denver City Council in the At-Large race, but instead decided to run for re-election due in large part to the recent battle over school closures with the Superintendent." Dr. Alex Marrero had suggested consolidating a shifting number of low-attendance facilities; Anderson opposed the plans and helped vote them down last week.

"My son will be a student in the Denver Public Schools in the next few years, and I want to be certain that I have done all I can to ensure that he has the best education possible alongside his peers," Anderson added. "We cannot, we will not allow our students to fall through the cracks any longer. Our kids deserve a life filled with opportunities, which is only possible if they have access to a high-quality education from Pre-K through 12th grade regardless of school model.”

As for the competition to succeed term-limited Mayor Michael Hancock, fifteen people were listed on Denver Elections' initiatives-and-candidates tracking page as of November 14, as noted in a Westword post featuring candidate Terrance Roberts's complaints about what he saw as unequal media coverage of the large field. Later that day, James Walsh joined the throng; he's been followed by Paul Fiorino and Danny Lopez, both of whom ran for mayor in 2011, as well as Trinidad Rodriguez, whose many public roles have included commissioner for the Denver Housing Authority; The Language School founder David Stevens; and Mike Johnston, the Obama-praised educator who unsuccessfully sought to become Colorado's governor in 2018 and U.S. senator in 2020.

Here's the complete list of candidates who've filed paperwork to run for mayor so far, along with the date the documents were submitted:

Marcus Giavanni
January 3

Ken Simpson
March 3

Jesse Lashawn Parris
April 4

Terrance Roberts
April 8

Ean Tafoya
May 5

Anna Burrell (withdrawn)
June 1

Andre "Andy" Rougeot
July 13

Alex Cowans
July 26

Kelly Brough
August 15

Debbie Ortega
September 2

Thomas Wolf
September 6

Leslie Herod
September 8

Aurelio Martinez
October 10

Lisa Calderón
October 13

Chris Hansen
November 14

James Walsh
November 15

Paul Fiorino
November 22

Danny Lopez
November 23

Trinidad Rodriguez
November 25

David Stevens
November 28

Mike Johnston
November 28

At least one more name could soon be joining this roster: State Representative Alex Valdez is reportedly running for mayor, although his documents are not yet on the Denver Elections site.

The group running for Denver city council seats includes eight incumbents: District 1's Amanda Sandoval, District 2's Kevin Flynn, District 3's Jamie Torres, District 5's Amanda Sawyer, District 6's Paul Kashmann, District 9's Candi CdeBaca, District 10's Chris Hinds and District 11's Stacie Gilmore. But even if all of these officials keep their seats, there will be plenty of changes on the panel, since District 4's Kendra Black and District 7's Jolon Clark, and District 8's Chris Herndon and current at-large members Debbie Ortega (who's running for mayor) and Robin Kniech are term-limited.

Here are the people who've filed to run for at-large seats (two have since withdrawn), and the dates when their documents were accepted.

Jeff Walker
July 16, 2021

Dominic Angelo Diaz
January 14

Antonnio Benton II (withdrawn)
January 25

Travis Leiker
March 3

Leslie Twarogowski
April 12

Carlos V.S. Anderson (withdrawn)
April 27

Sarah Parady
April 29

Will Chan
May 18

Tim Hoffman
June 1

Marty Zimmerman
July 28

Penfield Tate III
November 15

Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez
November 21

And there's still more time for candidates to get into all of the municipal races, with the election set for April 4.

Click to read Auon'tai M. Anderson's full announcement for the Denver School Board.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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