City Council: New Members Begin, Peña Boulevard to Be Widened

Every four years, a day comes when Denver City Council gets to welcome newly elected members. Yesterday, July 15, was that occasion.

“It’s a new day in Denver. Our voters have voted for a change loudly and clearly," said Candi CdeBaca, who defeated District 9 incumbent Albus Brooks in a runoff election in June that some political observers saw as a referendum on out-of-control development.

CdeBaca and four other freshmen on council joined the eight members who won re-election. Like CdeBaca, Chris Hinds and Amanda Sawyer defeated incumbents, while Jamie Torres and Amanda Sandoval won seats that had been vacated by the former members of city council for whom they had previously worked.

Council chambers also have a new look. Denver Facilities Management installed a ramp for Hinds, who uses a wheelchair.

"I'd like to thank the voters for taking a chance...no one who uses a wheelchair has ever been elected to Denver City Council, and I want to thank you for seeing beyond the disability and seeing that I can represent you, and I intend to do just that," Hinds, who campaigned in part on his record as a disability rights advocate, told the audience.

Hinds spoke out against the proposed $93 million contract for reconstruction of the part of Peña Boulevard that runs from Jackson Gap Road to the Denver International Airport terminal. The project aims to widen part of the road to increase safety and the road's capacity and reconstruct interchange ramps near the Jackson Gap Road and Peña Boulevard intersection.

"I’m a little concerned about feeding the traffic monster and it having more lanes," Hinds said. He abstained while CdeBaca voted against it.

"We do have to curb our use of single-occupant vehicles. And this is not the way to do that," she said.

Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore, whose district includes part of the project area, said there's an urgent need for an improvement to Peña Boulevard for her constituents. She and ten other council members voted for the project. "We, for over 25 years in the far northeast, have not had the investments, nor appropriate expansions of our roadways, especially when you’re talking about 56th Avenue or Peña Boulevard. Our life and safety is sometimes at risk," said Gilmore, who was unanimously re-elected as council president pro tem.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers 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.