With John Hickenlooper having taken office as Colorado's governor, we know Denver will have a new mayor this year, and the race is wide open. To introduce you to the players, we're offering profiles of official candidates. Next up: Jeff Peckman.
"I have spent my whole life trying to find the best solutions to big problems at every level," says Jeff Peckman.
A Kansas native, Peckman moved to the Denver area at age five. Shortly thereafter, "I became president of the student council at my elementary school. That's about the time I started trying to solve big problems." He's got one year of college under his belt -- he attended Maharishi International University, now known as Maharishi University of Management -- and has "worked and studied in eight U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and eight other countries," he says. In addition, he's devoted himself to the nonprofit World Plan Executive Council, which spreads the word about transcendental meditation, for about twenty years. While he's never held electoral office at the city, state or federal level, he ran for the U.S. Senate seat in Colorado in 1998 under the banner of the Natural Law Party and also took part in the race for House District 2 in 2004.
Of course, Peckman is best known for his backing of Initiative 300, which would have created an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission. He considered taking legal action after his UFO-friendly measure garnered only 15 percent support at the polls last November, but ultimately decided to focus his energies on a mayoral bid.
Extraterrestrial matters will be near the top of his agenda if elected. He notes that nationally and internationally, "there's a huge amount of discussion going on about the bigger reality and a lot of increases in UFO sightings. It's being discussed by great religious and academic institutions -- but nobody in Denver seems to know what's going on. It's like we're in the dark, out of the loop. And I think my role is largely to become a wake-up call and give Denver leaders a reality check. They're talking about innovation and thinking outside the box, but they're actually pretty clueless about these big topics, and how they're going to affect the future of humanity."
Like his fellow hopefuls, Peckman sees the economy as a big issue -- "but my campaign will not be just about creating more jobs," he points out. "The percentage of people who are unemployed is a lot less than people who hate their jobs or had to take jobs they're grossly overqualified for. So I want to change the whole mindset of Denver. The city could become a renaissance of economic development, the next big thing -- the Burning Man Festival of cities in terms of innovation. But I don't see that happening now."
During the period when he was pushing Initiative 300, Peckman talked about the potential jobs that could be created by what he calls "the science-fiction industry" -- and in response, he recalls that Kelly Brough of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce "said, 'We're open to business from all planets.' And even if she said that tongue-in-cheek, that's the right answer. Instead of shrinking back because of budget concerns, we need money-saving solutions that will accomplish more than the solutions being offered by other candidates."
In terms of the budget deficit, Peckman would immediately order an audit to determine if the problem is as great as current estimates suggest, or if instead fraud and waste have exaggerated the situation.
Regarding excessive force complaints against the Denver Police Department, he concedes that "they're not on my radar, because I know violence in general -- domestic violence, bullying, school violence -- has its roots in stress. And approaches to reduce stress in different ways are very cost-effective. That's the kind of innovative way we can attack the root causes of these behavioral problems, whether it's the police force or anyone else in the city."
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In addition, he supports "using the medical marijuana dispensary industry as the foundation for launching a whole hemp-based economy -- the kind of industry that was proposed by Henry Ford back in the 1930s and showed a lot of promise until it was deliberately squashed." He's also excited by "the whole area of sustainable technologies in energy. Some people think the hydrogen craze came and went ten years ago, but they're not following the exponential improvement in that area. There are some extremely promising things coming out, and I'd like to make them part of the Denver Project, which would be like the Manhattan Project, except that instead of creating a hydrogen bomb to destroy the world, we'd create hydrogen energy to save the world."
Peckman concedes that he has nowhere near the funds boasted by some of his rivals -- "but while they're raising money, I'm raising public awareness about solutions that are so much better than anything they're offering. And that's how I'll stand out.
"The things I've been involved in -- the solutions and the results I've achieved -- are genuinely mind-blowing," he maintains. "And I don't see that coming from other candidates. They're talking about a lot of conventional stuff, and they've done a pretty good job with it. But there's nothing that makes you think, 'This is amazing. If only we could do this in Denver.' And that's what I bring to the race."
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," "Thomas Andrew Wolf: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Eric Zinn, mayoral hopeful, wants Denver to lose a million pounds," "Gerald Styron, Denver mayor candidate, once threatened to bring a gun to Westword," "Paul Noel Fiorino: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Dwight Henson: A Denver mayor's race profile," and "Theresa Spahn: A Denver mayor's race profile".