The Contenders: Becoming Mayor Is on Trinidad Rodriguez's Bucket List

Trinidad Rodriguez wants to become Denver mayor before becoming a sushi chef.
Trinidad Rodriguez wants to become Denver mayor before becoming a sushi chef. Trinidad Rodriguez for Denver Mayor
This is the thirteenth in our series on the Denver mayoral candidates, based on their responses to a Westword questionnaire sent to every contender on the ballot last month; see PBS12's "Humanizing" piece on Trinidad Rodriguez below.

A born-and-raised west Denverite who's the son of former Denver City Council rep Rosemary Rodriguez, Trinidad Rodriguez has spent his professional career straddling the worlds of finance, policy and politics.

Rodriguez spent three years as a policy adviser for Governor Roy Romer. He's also chaired the boards of the Denver Housing Authority and the Downtown Denver Partnership.

And while more recently he's worked as an investment banker, Rodriguez was once a bike courier in Denver. There are other unusual occupations on his bucket list, including trying his hand at being a sushi chef and an adobe brick maker. But before he takes on those gigs, Rodriguez would like to serve as Denver mayor.

Why are you running for mayor?

Denver helped my single mom and me through the tough times when I was growing up, and I’ve spent the last 25 years fighting for Denver to pay it forward. With this critical election before us, I want to continue that fight and build a city where every Denverite, regardless of the neighborhood they’re in, can achieve their version of success.

What is your plan to tackle homelessness?

My administration will build upon many of the advancements our human service provider ecosystem has made over the last twenty-plus years, methodically addressing this challenge. As the scale and nature of the challenge evolve, it is clear that we need to do something different as well, particularly for people living and dying unhoused on our streets while grappling with mental health and substance misuse disorders.

I will continue to sweep unauthorized encampments under the unauthorized camping ban to ensure health and safety for all. I will declare an emergency. I will work to provide treatment-resistant folks who are unhoused and pose a threat to themselves or others with treatment under voluntary and involuntary bases.

Would you end homeless encampment sweeps?


What is your plan to improve public safety in Denver?

My administration will hire 600 more police and rebuild trust between our police and Denverites through equity. Other cornerstones of my plan include: 1) Hire the best-in-class leadership and management to help develop our officers over time, working to make officers feel supported, and ultimately increase job satisfaction and talent retention overall. 2) Focus our expansion with recruiting in our diverse neighborhoods. 3) Work to ensure that Denver police officers are doing the work they are trained to do and have all of the training to do their work while preserving life.

How will you work with Denver Public Schools to improve education and safety in schools?

My vision for DPS is to build a structural organizational relationship based upon the concept that more alignment of services and supports for the whole child addresses upstream determinants. My vision for this structural relationship is that both DPS and Denver will be required to make intrinsic changes to meet their respective obligations.

This vision was specifically designed to address several persistent challenges in governance and leadership that are either widely known or shared with me as I’ve explored my run for mayor, as follows: 1) Consistently low voter participation in board elections, which increases undue influence on board and leadership by interest groups that distract from student focus. 2) The excessive burdens felt at the school and classroom levels in tackling the myriad of challenges experienced by Denver’s low-income and BIPOC youth which comprise the vast majority of DPS students. 3) Aligning organizational strategies and resources between Denver and its sister agencies, such as Denver Health and Denver Housing Authority, with DPS to support the whole student. 4) The wild swings in policy approaches that DPS has experienced over the last about three decades. 5) The generally low level of trust between families and the district. 6) The growing gap in academic outcomes between white/advantaged and BIPOC/low-income students. 7) A school district that helps the vast majority of its students achieve success is critically important to building a great city that I envision — one where every Denverite, regardless of the neighborhood they’re in, can achieve their version of success. 8) The chorus of unheeded calls by DPS superintendents for greater support of or youth in areas such as gun violence and mental health support.

What is your stance on the Park Hill Golf Course development proposal?

While I believe that land can be redeveloped in ways that are aligned to the current proposal, I oppose the current proposal as is and will be voting against it. We need a better deal and need more concessions from the developer, particularly as related to mitigating impact on the surrounding neighborhoods and to limit the developer’s use of competitive tax credits and subsidies to deliver on its affordability promises. I also believe there should be an increase to maximum development height in a much smaller footprint to optimize the space, preserve important western views of the mountains and maintain the greatest possible open space.

How can Denver significantly expand its affordable-housing stock?

I will accelerate the creation of total housing supply and its diversity, particularly housing stock to meet the needs of the workforce and lowest-income families. Having served on the board of Denver Housing Authority for over eleven years, I helped lead the organization through its first affordable-housing bond backed by the City of Denver to speed up the delivery of 5,000 units in Sun Valley, Westridge and other neighborhoods, and open new opportunities in permanent supportive housing land banking. Denver also needs to cut red tape and accelerate the permitting process.

My involvement on the Blueprint Denver Task Force for three years and knowledge of capital and development markets have positioned me to catalyze private-sector momentum in the supply of so-called missing middle housing types that can be priced to be affordable to moderate-income households. These can be built in medium and medium-low density along high-frequency transit corridors and nodes, becoming a large-scale opportunity for our city.

Denver also needs to cut red tape and accelerate the permitting process, which involves investing in logistics plans and accountability, which can be through independent contracting and/or resource alignment.

Denver has historically been a car-centric city. Should the city take significant road space from cars for other forms of transportation (walking, rolling, biking, scootering, bus, etc.)?

Yes. Building an equitable mobility network that gives all Denverites safe, sustainable, efficient and healthful ways to move about the city is my vision for transportation for Denver. My priorities will be to accelerate the implementation of our existing citywide and regional plans and infrastructure to create complete mobility networks. My team will accomplish this through innovative infrastructure design and building; lowering and enhancing enforcement of speed limits to meaningfully reduce and eliminate mobility-related injuries and deaths, and determine how Denver can be a leader in unlocking promising new technologies that can advance these goals, such as self-driving people movers, among others.

What would you do if the Denver Broncos demand public dollars as a requirement for keeping the stadium in the Mile High City?

I would look forward to such a negotiation. The entire Denver region invested in our current stadium, and it has a lot of life left in it and is well located to serve the entire region. I helped lead the investment by Denver Housing Authority in 1,000 units of mixed-income housing in Sun Valley, the stadium’s neighbor to the south. We’ve also developed plans for transit-oriented development adjacent to the stadium. I had called on them with hundreds of other petitioners to commit to keeping the stadium where it is. That’s why I was glad when the impressive new owners announced their plan to invest $100 million in upgrading the stadium. Going into any negotiation, you want to have cards to play. Denver’s got a lot of cards.

Violence during let-out in LoDo has been an issue for years. Would you support a staggered closing time that ends at 4 a.m.?

Yes. This has been a persistent problem for decades. Having a vibrant area that draws people needs to be safe. There could be other proposals that involve later closing times that are worth considering. With this in place, I will support bringing back the food trucks.

What question do you wish we'd asked?

"What do you love most about Denver?"

I love what makes Denver unique. Denver is an extremely powerful place with an almost magnetic energy that has brought people from near and far for thousands of years, long before Colorado City was established in 1858. I picture the mixing of tribes and peoples responding to this draw. Rather than the mere force of urbanization, coming to/staying in Denver represents a choice to be part of something that connects to the earth, wildlife and each other. It is this energy along the hogback of the great Rocky Mountains that has inspired people to envision a bold future throughout our existence.

See answers from Kelly Brough, Thomas Wolf, Lisa Calderón, Andy Rougeot, Ean Tafoya, Renate Behrens, Debbie Ortega, James Walsh, Robert Treta, Leslie Herod, Chris Hansen, Mike Johnston, Trinidad Rodriguez, Aurelio Martinez, Terrance Roberts and Al Gardner.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a former staff writer at Westword, where he covered a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports; he now lives in upstate New York.

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