Michael Hancock: Why You Should Re-Elect Me Mayor of Denver

Michael Hancock was elected mayor of Denver in 2011.
Michael Hancock was elected mayor of Denver in 2011. hancockformayor.com
This May, Denver will choose a mayor to lead the city for the next four years. But where do candidates stand on the issues? And how do they plan to earn your vote?

As part of our mayor's race coverage, we asked each of them. Below, find out what the current mayor, Michael Hancock, had to say.

Although election day, May 7, is still months away, an important deadline is looming. Hopefuls have until March 13 to submit a verified petition comprised of at least 300 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot.

At this writing, ten people have filed paperwork with the Denver Elections Division to run for mayor: Lisa Calderón, Stephan Evans (also known as Chairman Seku), Marcus Giavanni, Jamie Giellis, Hancock, Kalyn Heffernan, Danny Lopez, Leatha Scott, Ken Simpson and Penfield Tate. We invited all of them to share their take on important matters facing Denver. The questions were the same for every candidate, and we set no word limit on answers.

Elliot, Scott and Lopez have not responded to our outreach thus far, although the latter spoke to us for a previous mayoral run in 2011. In addition, Giavanni declined to participate by way of a memorable reply. The other six took part.

Continue to learn more about Mayor Hancock and his positions on the subjects that are front and center in Denver right now.

Westword: How would you describe yourself and the reasons you decided to run for mayor?

Michael Hancock: I grew up here in Denver. My family moved from Park Hill to Montbello, back to Park Hill, then to Whittier and Five Points, where we finally secured public housing. I know firsthand how important it is to find stability in your life and your community.

From the time I was twelve years old, I wanted to be mayor because I saw how a city could help kids just like me. Like any city, we have big, important issues facing us every day. I’m working on these issues — working with the people of Denver to find innovative and creative solutions — because I have something to give back to a city that gave me so much.

In 2011, the people of Denver granted me the greatest honor in my life, since the birth of my children, by electing me as the 45th mayor of Denver. I will always cherish the trust and responsibility the people of this great city placed in me.

After taking office, we went to work. We took a city reeling from the depths of recession (9+ percent unemployment) and built a progressive, vibrant, economic city:

• 100,000 new jobs
• 8,100 new businesses
• One of the lowest unemployment rates in the country
• 44 new national and international flight connections secured at DIA
• Free access to recreation centers for children and seniors with the My Denver Card
• $300 million committed to affordable housing — more than the entire state of Colorado
• Award-winning climate and sustainability efforts
• Named by national publications as the best place to live for two straight years, best place to start a career, best place to raise children, best place for millennials, best place for entrepreneurs, and best place to retire.

I am excited to continue our progress to create more equity and accessibility to all people and to deliver a more welcoming, modern and progressive city for everyone in Denver.

Making Denver the most welcoming city

We are building a welcoming city where people from all walks of life can feel at home and be a part of Denver’s future no matter where they’re from, how they worship or who they love. I have fought to reform the criminal justice system, achieve pay equity in city offices, ban LGBTQ conversion therapy, expand mental health services, open new shelters for those experiencing homelessness and support immigrants’ rights.

Creating a diverse and equitable economy

We are creating a more diverse and equitable economy so everyone has a chance to succeed. We are working to raise wages, improve access to jobs, build more affordable housing and support local businesses. With 100,000 new jobs, 8,000 new businesses and doubling the city’s investment in affordable housing, we are delivering a modern economy that works for everyone. And we’re not done yet.

Delivering a progressive and modern Denver

We are protecting and improving what makes Denver the thriving city we are proud of — with beautiful parks, modern transportation and vibrant neighborhoods. Denver is a leader in livability and progressive ideals. We continue to fight climate change by reducing carbon emissions, moving Denver toward 100 percent renewable electricity in the next ten years and make it easier to get around by creating new transportation options.

How would you tackle Denver's affordable-housing issues?

I attended six different Denver schools before my mom, nine brothers and sisters and I settled in public housing in the Five Points neighborhood. Before that, I remember, at times, we didn’t know where we were going to sleep, if there would be food on the table or if the electricity or water would be turned off in the house. I remember seeing my mom get turned away from housing simply because she was a black single mom raising ten kids. Those experiences shaped who I am today.

Affordable and attainable housing is something all people should have access to, and it’s the number-one challenge facing families in our city today.

That is why my administration does more and spends more than the entire state of Colorado to address affordable housing. We created the first ever Affordable Housing Fund — with a fee on new development. Then we doubled it. This work also includes opening up access to vacant rentals for our workforce; assisting with mortgage, rental and utility payments; extending preservation periods; and partnering with Denver Housing Authority to deliver more housing faster (6,300 units over the next five years). In 2018, my administration invested more money in one year than ever before to deliver housing Denver families could afford — $40 million. This year, we anticipate spending close to $60 million.

If I have the honor of being re-elected, I will maintain the city’s laser focus on delivering more and better housing solutions for Denver’s families. We will continue to provide funding to develop and redevelop affordable-housing units. Working with numerous partners, right now we are examining how Denver can utilize even more affordable-housing tools, such as land trusts, property acquisition, city-owned real estate, accessory dwelling units, and resident-preference and income non-discrimination policies.

To address Denver’s overall affordability challenges and keep our city accessible to all our neighbors, we must also keep a keen focus on improving access to our most basic needs: a good job, a home, and a community with quality, healthy foods, transportation and education.

Would you be in favor of using city land for affordable housing?

Yes. At my direction last year, city staff conducted a thorough evaluation of all vacant city-owned property to look for opportunities to provide land for affordable housing. Unfortunately, most vacant city land is made up of small, remnant parcels or is unsuitable for building due to easements, access issues or configuration. This is why we have recently focused on acquiring more land for affordable housing, including two properties on Colfax and another on Washington Street. These are good opportunities to partner with affordable-housing developers to provide housing our people need. We will continue to regularly evaluate city property as projects are completed to determine if new opportunities arise.

I have also directed staff to reach out to other public organizations like Denver Water to determine if they have any possible land opportunities, and we will continue the partnership with DHA that we formed in 2017 to allow DHA to bond using revenues from the city’s affordable-housing fund to acquire properties for affordable-housing projects. In 2016, I also directed a revision of the city’s executive order on real estate to require all property to be evaluated for city uses, including affordable-housing uses prior to any release for sale, ensuring we will always be looking for appropriate housing opportunities.

Would you require affordable housing in every housing development? If so, why? If not, why not?

We created the city’s first-ever Affordable Housing Fund — placing a fee on new development to pay for new affordable-housing units. We have also created a program that requires residential developers who want to build more density in RiNo to provide affordable units on site and commercial developers to pay five times the standard fee. We are prepared to expand that program citywide if it proves successful at creating more affordable housing. We are also exploring ways to incentivize more affordable units in new buildings, as we have found these practices to be far more successful in getting units built more quickly for Denver’s people. And I will always be open to new ideas and other options when it comes to providing more affordable housing.

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Michael Hancock offering a high-five.
Do you support rent control in Denver?

I know high rents are the number-one issue for many Denver residents. We welcome support from the State of Colorado — including additional funding and other tools for our affordable housing toolbox — to help individuals and families live and stay in Denver. We also believe each community in Colorado should have the opportunity to choose the policies that best meet their specific needs and circumstances.

Rent control has been a policy on the table since we began our affordable-housing work eight years ago. The reality is that rent control gets mixed reviews from cities across the country. As a national nonprofit public policy organization reported last October, "While rent control appears to help current tenants in the short run, in the long run it decreases affordability, fuels gentrification, and creates negative spillovers on the surrounding neighborhood."

Currently, my administration is focusing on supporting residents in need of housing stability through production and preservation of affordable housing and other services. As a city, we have stepped up to serve thousands of vulnerable residents and increase the supply of affordable-housing units. This year alone, we will spend close to $60 million on affordable housing.

Denver and other Colorado cities would need the state to repeal the law disallowing rent control. If rent control policy becomes an opportunity locally, it will be something for us to consider as one of our tools to help with the challenges we face around affordable housing. This is a complex issue that would require a thoughtful analysis of policy and implementation processes. We would engage in conversation with a variety of stakeholders, including City Council, our Housing Advisory Committee, industry experts and other cities that have implemented rent control.

Another approach may be adopting policies that encourage the production of more diverse types of housing (different densities, tenure types, unit sizes, etc.); implementing strong regulations and practices to ensure housing quality and to protect tenants from abuses; and providing targeted, direct subsidies to people who need help paying their rents.

Would you expand the tiny homes concept? If so, how? If not, why not?

Yes. My administration is working with the Colorado Village Collaborative to ensure the current tiny homes find a new location so that we can then look to expand the concept and serve more people.

I strongly support offering a diversity of housing options — whether that be tiny homes, accessory dwelling units, condos, apartments and traditional single-family homes. We also must continue exploring new ways to lower and remove the barriers that keep people who are experiencing homelessness from using shelters and accessing services. This approach has helped us house 325 people experiencing chronic homelessness through an innovative funding model, and it is a primary reason that we are implementing a new plan to expand and reconfigure our homeless shelters.

How would you address homelessness in Denver?

I grew up in Denver as one of ten kids, raised by a single mom in public housing. I know firsthand the pain of poverty and homelessness. There were many times when we didn’t know where we were going to sleep or if we would have enough to eat. I am committed to fighting for Denver’s most vulnerable people so that everyone has access to a home, a job and a future.

Today, the city invests more than $50 million in homeless services every year, an amount that increases annually. My administration has helped place more than 7,500 homeless families and individuals into stable housing, nearly tripled our annual investment in services, and helped open three new shelters. While the city plays a critical role in stemming homelessness, we cannot solve this challenge alone. This is a complex issue that can only be addressed with a multi-faceted approach by numerous organizations and resources. This includes creating more shelters, expanding access to mental health care and drug addiction treatment, addressing wage stagnation, identifying creative housing solutions and better connecting people to available resources.

There are myriad reasons for homelessness, foremost among them escalating housing costs and a shortage of attainable housing, substance misuse, mental health concerns and disconnection from family. I will continue to implement creative policy solutions that help people transition to a healthy, safe and thriving life. We have launched innovative programs to better assist people experiencing homelessness, including peer navigator programs at the Denver Central Library, which connects people with resources to get off the street, and the Denver Day Works program, which employs people experiencing homelessness to work in city facilities and parks. We’ve also added tiny homes as an innovative approach to providing more shelter with fewer resources.

Our Social Impact Bond housing program has allowed Denver to leverage $8.7 million from lenders to provide housing and supportive case-management services to 325 individuals experiencing homelessness who frequently use the city’s emergency services, including police, jail, the courts and emergency rooms. By shifting the focus to preventative services, we can better serve those experiencing homelessness.

What's your position on the Right to Rest bill?

Today, the city invests more than $50 million in homeless services every year, an amount that increases annually. These include affordable housing, supportive housing services, street outreach workers, and transportation to and from our shelters. This does not include the dozens of community organizations that are serving those experiencing homelessness as well.

This is important and impactful work, but we know we can, and must, do better. This is particularly true when it comes to preventing homelessness, to serving those who utilize our shelters, and to aiding those who remain unsheltered on our streets. However, the Right to Rest legislation that is proposed at the state annually is not the answer. This legislation as well as Initiative 300, set for the Denver ballot, create no new solutions or resources for the most vulnerable in our community.

We need to continue fighting the opioid crisis with fervor and empathy. We need to continue investing in shelters, meal programs, services that connect individuals to critical resources, and programs that allow people to thrive. And we need to continue finding new ways to break down and remove barriers for those experiencing homelessness. I will never be convinced that it’s dignified for people to sleep on the street. I will never accept people being exposed to disease, feces, needles and trash that accumulate in our public spaces. We need to look through a compassionate lens to understand the bigger scope of what we’re trying to address.

Is development in Denver being done responsibly?

We have a lot to be proud of in this city. We have taken Denver from the depths of recession to one of the strongest economies in the nation. We have reduced unemployment from double digits to record lows. With 100,000-plus new residents over the last decade, we‘ve become an even more vibrant city, a leader in progressive values and a model of a modern economy. With 200,000 more people expected over the next two decades, we must continue to strategically manage the growth so it reflects all that we love about our home.

By continuing to have diverse voices at the table, we will be able to smartly manage Denver’s future growth. We must stay true to our specific plans — created side by side with thousands of Denverites — to better preserve our historic, lively and culturally diverse neighborhoods and create a more inclusive, connected and healthy city for everyone.

Denveright was a multi-agency planning initiative unlike any the city has ever embarked on. Delivering four distinct citywide plans guided by input from 25,000 residents, it establishes a vision for how Denver will manage growth over the next twenty years. We must retain our history and remain healthy, active, sustainable, accessible and inclusive. Providing that equity for all neighborhoods and all people is how Denver will continue to rise. This is the kind of open conversation we need to be having to ensure that everyone has a voice.

That’s why I have created the Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization Team to look at the impact current and future development is having on vulnerable areas across our city. I am committed to preserving the history, culture and diversity of our communities, and NEST is one way we can hear directly from the residents of those areas to find innovative solutions and create partnerships that will build trust and keep people in their homes and small businesses operating in their neighborhoods.

In addition to NEST, my administration also created the Citizens Planning Academy to give an inside look at how city planning works and empower residents, business owners and others with information so they can engage in and guide planning efforts effectively both in their own neighborhoods and for the whole city.

We are in the process of updating and creating specific neighborhood plans for all 78 neighborhoods to help guide growth at the neighborhood level. And we are also working on ways to increase neighborhood input regarding the design of new developments to ensure they fit with the neighborhood.

As mayor, I will remain focused on ensuring that our economy continues to thrive and that it does not leave anyone behind.

What improvements do you believe should be made to Denver's public transportation system?

Equity must be a value that applies to everything we do as a city, including mobility. It’s time our streets learn to share. To keep Denver accessible, affordable and equitable, residents must be able to get around the city easier with more reasonable transportation options. I launched a Mobility Action Plan that is investing $2 billion to address Denver’s congestion and accelerate projects, policies and programs to move more people more efficiently and more safely.

Denver’s people deserve safe, reliable options such as mass transit, bikes, scooters and pedestrian paths. My Mobility Action Plan addresses the ways in which we can embrace these types of transit options and make them easier to access from all parts of the city.

To help encourage the use of alternative transportation modes, we are working on such projects as increasing priority routes on main corridors — including a new Colfax Rapid Transit express route. We are also adding miles of protected bike lanes and paths, and we are improving signs, signals, striping and paving throughout the city to make it easier for pedestrians and wheelchair users to get around. We have joined the Vision Zero program with the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities by 2030.

In addition to changing the way people move about the city, we also need to consider the environmental impact that vehicles are having. That’s why I am investing in technology and infrastructure to make electric vehicles a more appealing form of transportation. We are deploying a fully electric fleet of street sweepers this year, as well as adding 200 electric vehicles for other city services by the end of 2020.

Would you support RTD fare increases? If so, why? If not, why not?

It was this city that helped raise me, and I will continue to work every day to ensure Denver remains a city that leaves no one behind. One way to create equity is by increasing reliable, safe mobility options for our neighborhoods. Denver is focused on improving access to mass transit and other multi-modal options for residents, and that includes advocating for RTD to better serve the ridership in Denver.

I advocated for the RTD fare proposal that would dramatically reduce fares for students and low-income residents and make transit free for all youth under the age of twelve. I was pleased the RTD Board passed this proposal, which advances transit affordability for low-income riders and young people — while investing in safe, reliable and affordable mobility options for residents.

Additionally, to assist in lowering the cost of transit for our youth, the city and RTD launched a successful pilot program in 2017 giving free bus passes for a limited number of Denver high school students. It was a great success, laying the foundation for a citywide expansion. Currently, we are piloting a program that utilizes the My Denver Card to provide transit access to Denver’s kids and seniors who are enrolled in that program.

Would you work to expand Denver's bicycle network? If so, how?

Today, Denver has built 100 miles of multi-use trails, 130 miles of bike lanes, 39 miles of sharrows and almost 400 miles of signed bike routes. This is good progress, but we must do more to create a safe, connected bicycling network for our residents.

Denver is accelerating the buildout of the next phase of the city’s bicycle network by adding 125 more miles of bike lanes over the next five years. Public Works will boost delivery of the bikes lanes over the next two to three years and will leverage a new approach of creating better neighborhood bike networks that focus on connectivity for the residents and businesses in the area. Denver also quickly geared up to pilot new mobility options such as dock-less bikes and electric scooters, leveraging these new tech solutions to serve more Denver neighborhoods.

What should be done to deal with Denver's opioid crisis?

There is a substance-abuse epidemic all across America, including here in Denver. Having family and friends who have grappled with addiction, I know the pain that too many of Denver’s residents are facing.

Last year, we released a substance-misuse strategic action plan and immediately began to implement it by piloting a 24/7 treatment-on-demand program in partnership with Denver Health. We also have hired two — with plans to hire more — Substance Use Navigators to help steer people struggling with drug addiction into treatment and recovery. In addition, to help people get access to treatment, housing and support, we’re hiring up to ten homeless peer navigators, who will be stationed at homeless shelters, the courts and other places throughout Denver. This expands the successful peer navigator program at the Denver Central Library.

But we must also be clear that this opioid crisis could have been avoided, [if it weren't] for greed and indifference. I have directed the City Attorney’s Office to use every legal tool available in holding opioid manufacturers liable for the social and economic devastation their actions have caused our city and our people. Alongside sixteen neighboring jurisdictions, we filed a federal lawsuit against manufacturers just this past January.

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Michael Hancock and some young supporters.
What's your position on supervised use sites?

I am brokenhearted to report that 200 people per year are dying of a drug overdose in Denver — more than homicides and traffic fatalities combined. Denver is trying a variety of approaches to reduce that number.

• Joining other cities and counties across the state to sue opioid manufacturers
• Launching a 24/7 treatment-on-demand pilot program with Denver Health
• Hiring substance abuse navigators to steer people into treatment and recovery
• Hiring peer navigators in our libraries and homeless shelters
• Deploying two dozen social workers with police officers

I supported Denver’s supervised use site ordinance. While the idea of supervised injection sites is not new globally, it is a relatively new concept for the U.S., even for cities like Denver that already use other harm-reduction strategies such as clean needle exchanges and sharps disposal boxes. Though the state legislature has decided to not introduce a bill for this purpose this session, it is still one tool we can consider if that becomes a viable option in Colorado.

Even then, there are a host of other hurdles — including federal law and community concerns about where such a facility would be located — that must be overcome before a supervised injection sites could ever be opened in Denver.

Where do you stand on social consumption venues?

I support providing Denverites with the ability to legally and safely consume marijuana in a shared space. Denver voters supported the creation of these venues, and the city is working hard with the industry and neighborhoods to responsibly and thoughtfully implement [them], as we have with previous marijuana initiatives. While the business model has proven to be challenging — with particular state restrictions — we have worked with applicants to meet requirements and consider unique models.

This landscape is certain to evolve. The state has been wrangling with social consumption venues, and we expect to see additional venue options from the legislature. While Denver has become a national model for legalizing marijuana, we are now among numerous cities that have learned lessons. We are actively monitoring their programs to find new solutions. As we work on creating a successful regulatory framework, we will continue to work with the industry and neighborhoods to ensure that the solutions are right for Denver.

What can and should be done to improve law enforcement in Denver?

We must continue to create stronger, safer neighborhoods where neighbors can trust the people serving them. Seven years ago, after a tumultuous decade rocked by high-profile excessive-force incidents and community outrage, we knew the old way of policing wasn’t acceptable.

Denver embarked on its journey to spur criminal justice reform — by improving policing practices, restructuring drug laws, increasing social programs and enhancing community re-entry opportunities. In many ways, we have moved the needle on these goals, making major changes to the Department of Safety during my administration. We have more work to do.

Denver is improving policing practices

We have created among the most progressive use-of-force policies in the country by training officers to use non-force alternatives and de-escalation tactics. This policy will improve trust between the public and police and create more accountability within the department. Officers now wear body cameras, and our departments have prioritized listening and engaging with the community. We created the Public Integrity Division — a civilian-led agency to investigate wrongdoings, concerns and complaints about the Sheriff's Department.

Denver is reforming its drug laws

Denver must reduce the impacts of low-level drug offenses to stem the consequences that too often derail people’s lives. Denver’s collaborative approach to the legalization of retail marijuana has been a global success story, one that has happened through thoughtful work with numerous stakeholders at the table. Recently, Denver began expunging low-level marijuana convictions. These charges disproportionately affect minority communities. In addition, the opioid crisis is affecting cities and communities across the country.

My administration has taken bold action by leading a federal lawsuit — along with sixteen local governments in Colorado — against opioid manufacturers. Locally, we are focusing on connecting individuals to drug treatment and mental health care to prevent further crimes from happening as a result of these situations.

Denver is increasing social programs

We must prevent crime by connecting individuals to resources and assistance to address their basic needs. Recently, we created the Opportunity Index to have a data-driven approach to identifying collaborative opportunities to address social factors that will help improve residents’ quality of life, thereby enhancing safety for everyone in Denver.

My administration took President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge to connect young men of color to community mentors and career opportunities. I supported the creation of the Gang Reduction Initiative of Denver, which hires ex-felons to help with targeted outreach and intervention to active gang members. I launched the co-responder program to pair police officers with mental health professionals to assist and divert those experiencing behavioral challenges to services, housing and programs instead of jail and to deploy de-escalation tactics in the field.

Most importantly, we must address systemic, economic disadvantages and an antiquated criminal justice system that forces people of lower income into jail. The inability to pay small fines, lack of transportation options or other socio-economic challenges often results in people being detained or incarcerated for procedural wrongdoings, such as a failure to appear in court.

Denver is enhancing community re-entry opportunities

We must support the formerly incarcerated with programs to reduce recidivism, provide job training and apprenticeships, and civically engage these individuals. Through these new training and apprenticeship opportunities, we are working to decrease prison recidivism rates by offering better job training for people who have been previously incarcerated, and we are working to ensure that there are jobs available to them in their own communities.

In 2016, I directed city agencies to "ban the box" and no longer ask applicants for many jobs about their criminal backgrounds in order to give prior offenders a second chance. We must do the same at the state and federal levels. My administration was the first county in Colorado to work with the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC) to allow voter registration in our Downtown Denver Detention Center and Denver County Jail. This shows prisoners that we are detaching the stigma associated with jail time and welcoming them back into our communities with a valuable voice and a valid perspective to participate in community decision-making.

We also passed sentencing reform to provide fairness and proportionality in sentencing. Under the new structure, we have the ability to prosecute violent offenders to the maximum extent allowed by state law while lowering the maximum possible penalty to sixty days for lower-level offenses that disproportionately impact vulnerable populations.

For individuals who have been incarcerated, I have instructed the Department of Public Safety to eliminate Pretrial Electronic Monitoring Fees for clients because of the extra cost and negative impact to low-income families.

Do you believe reforms in the Denver Sheriff Department and the Denver Police Department have gone far enough, or are there additional measures you would institute? If so, what are they?

When we entered office, Denver embarked on its journey to spur criminal justice system reform. In many ways, we have moved the needle on our goals, making major changes to the Department of Safety’s structure, policies and practices during my administration. But our work is far from over.

We must stay focused on creating a criminal justice system that is fair, equitable and just. Moving forward, we are focused on continuing to improve policing practices, require implicit bias training, reform drug laws, increase social programs, enhance community re-entry opportunities and reform our use-of-force policy to be among the most progressive in the nation.

Do you believe the Office of the Independent Monitor should have greater investigatory powers over law enforcement leadership?

I support the critical role that the Independent Monitor plays in our safety system, and that is why I supported the creation of the Office of the Independent Monitor when I was a city councilman. This is a newer city office. As such, I do believe that we must continue to assess how we can strengthen the intended role of this office. I supported the recent changes to the OIM ordinance proposed by City Council and the Citizen Oversight Board. And I will continue to discuss with City Council, the OIM and the Citizen Oversight Board necessary changes as they arise.

Should the City of Denver create a mechanism that would hold the mayor more accountable?

The City of Denver’s mechanism to hold all elected officials accountable rightfully places the responsibility in the hands of Denver voters. Our people have proven time and again that they will vote to ensure that Denver continues to be the vibrant, progressive city with a modern economy that we are today.

Do you plan to live in Cableland as mayor, and if not, what should the city do with the property?

Ever since this house was gifted to the city, every Denver mayor has faced the question of whether it would be better to sell Cableland or not. I have chosen to focus on turning this city asset into a more accessible amenity for the community. Today, the house of a former cable mogul who helped make Denver the city it is now has hosted events in support of women, youth, minority communities and small business. As for living at Cableland, no, this is Denver’s house. My family and I have been happy in our home in Green Valley Ranch, a neighborhood we love.

Are there other major issues we haven't mentioned that are important to you, and if so, what are they?

I am unwaveringly committed to ensuring that Denver’s success does not leave our communities of color behind. That is why we are focused on decreasing the impacts of gentrification and increasing people’s ability to have a good job, a stable home and a bright future.

Growing up here, like many of you, I’ve seen Denver’s neighborhoods change. In many ways, Denver has made great progress, but in others, people are not able to access that progress.

To ensure vulnerable neighborhoods are able to continue growing and building wealth without displacing current residents or changing the fabric of our historic and culturally diverse neighborhoods, my administration has created the Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization Team, or NEST. In this program’s first phase, we are focusing on Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, Montbello, Northeast Park Hill, Sun Valley and Westwood. This is a first-of-its-kind team deploying services specifically tailored to neighborhoods at risk of losing their identity and affordability as they experience surges in public and private investments. Through NEST, we can work to ensure people aren’t displaced or forced out of their communities, and that they can benefit from economic prosperity in their beloved areas.

In addition to NEST, we are continuing to require fees on new developments in order to provide funding for affordable housing for the most at-need residents. We will also continue to have collaborative conversations with neighborhood associations, promote solutions to end wage stagnation, provide job training and offer incentives to local, women- and minority-owned businesses.

Finally, Denveright gives us a strategic twenty-year road map to better manage our growth and provide sustainable infrastructure for the future of our city. This plan has engaged tens of thousands of residents in the future of their city and how we manage growth and development, deliver accessible transportation and preserve and expand parkland in neighborhoods throughout Denver

Working at the Denver Housing Authority, Civic League and Urban League in my younger days, I have spent my career creating grassroots efforts to engage overlooked communities and tear down the historic barriers of racism. We still need to peel back layers of inequity. To combat this, we are constructing a solid foundation for the next generation.

As mayor of Denver, this starts with opening access to the most basic needs of all people — a home, a job, and a community with access to healthy food, transportation and a quality public education. We are increasing before- and after-school programs, providing free access to rec centers, removing library late fees and opening job-training programs for teens and young adults. We are delivering new pathways for housing assistance, sustainable business models and the preservation of historic and culturally diverse neighborhoods.

With billions of dollars of public projects currently or soon to be under way, it’s vital that we leverage this opportunity to invest in our people, not just our infrastructure. We do this by creating a diverse workforce, expanding access to job training, prioritizing hiring local, disadvantaged individuals — including those who have been previously incarcerated — and ensuring safe and fulfilling work. We are deploying training and hiring outreach requirements on major projects, including the National Western Center, Elevate Denver bond projects and the expansion of the Convention Center. These programs will help create generational wealth within our community.

We are continuing to require that Neighborhood Health Assessments be done in advance of any new major projects to determine the needs and opportunities for improving air quality, water cleanliness and climate sustainability in any given area.

Finally, I am so grateful to serve as the mayor of this incredible city. And I am proud of the work we have done together, Denver. This is the best city in the country, and I will continue to fight for you, to protect you, to work with you and to make you proud of the place we all call home.
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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