Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

John Hickenlooper will walk from city to state office a week from today

A week from today, at 8:30 a.m., John Hickenlooper will resign his job as the mayor of Denver, then leave his office at the City and County Building (where he had a stripe painted around the top of the room at a point exactly a mile high) and walk across Civic Center Park, Broadway and Lincoln and up to the State Capitol, where at 10 a.m. January 11, he will be sworn in as the next governor of Colorado.

The plan is quintessential Hickenlooper.

The way the Denver Charter is written, it's as though the city's leaders envisioned this move a century ago. By holding on to his office this long, Hickenlooper was able to save the city from the cost of a special election (in which the system is winner-takes-all) -- and postpone the circus that will certainly accompany the next mayor's race, with a dozen people already in the ring and more looking at the May 3 regular election, in which a candidate must get a majority of the vote in order to win. Otherwise, the two top vote-getters will go to a June 7 runoff.

But first, Hickenlooper will be sworn in as governor of Colorado. Open seating for the ceremony will have already started at 8 a.m. -- and we're talking very open to the elements, with no real contingency plans for bad weather. According to Ben Davis, spokesman for the committee planning the Can Do Colorado inaugural activities, the Capitol staff was asked about blizzard/rain alternatives -- and "there are no alternatives," he reports.

And no one elected official to blame for any lack of snow removal between 8:30 a.m. January 11 and 11 a.m. January 12, when Guillermo "Bill" Vidal, the man Hickenlooper brought in to head Public Works who's proven himself an MVP as deputy mayor (and will get stuck handling any snowstorm during that 26-and-a-half-hour gap), will be sworn in as the mayor of Denver, a post he'll hold until the next mayor of Denver is sworn in next summer. That ceremony will be in the atrium of the Wellington E. Webb building, and is also open -- but under cover.

For Calhoun's look at the crazy campaign season that led to Hickenlooper's becoming governor, read "Alien Nation."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun