Politics

Seven Resolutions for Denver Mayoral Candidates in 2023

Mayor Hancock is preparing to pass the baton to the next administration.
Mayor Hancock is preparing to pass the baton to the next administration. YouTube

How many people can run for mayor of Denver? The final answer has yet to be determined — the deadline to file for candidacy is January 19, and ballots will be mailed in March for the April 4 general election, with a probable runoff already scheduled for June 6. That runoff is highly likely owing to the sheer number of candidates currently in the field; if no one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will match up in the runoff. Given that there are more than twenty candidates announced so far, that’s virtually a lock. The technical term for this many mayoral candidates is, we believe, a “shit-ton.”

But it makes some sense that there would be a larger number of Colorado would-be politicians vying for that Mile High throne. This will be the first year in which Denver taxpayers will chip in some contribution cash via the Fair Elections Fund, offering a bit more scratch to candidates who heretofore have not been able to muster up much support in the financial sense.

Who’s running? We published a list of those who’d announced last summer, but that list has grown and almost certainly will again, as we covered in another update in mid-November. So what should these would-be mayors be thinking about as 2022 turns to 2023 and their time in the spotlight is nigh? Here are a few resolutions they should keep in mind for the new year, with all its political potential:

Be Sure You Want That Spotlight
The electoral landscape is littered with the bleached skulls of wannabe politicos who couldn’t behave in a manner befitting the office to which they aspired and were politically slain in their desperate denials or pleas for forgiveness. The electorate — democracy in general — is a harsh mistress. And should be. We should be electing the best of us to represent us in office. That high bar is a mile high for good reason. If you can’t clear it? Don’t jump.

Don’t Waste That Municipal Campaign Money
The public funding of elections is something which many Americans see as necessary in the effort to get dark money and big business out of politics. But it also presents a new wrinkle in the threadbare bedsheet of our election process: Once the public is holding the purse strings, they’re going to feel — rightly so — like it’s their money that candidates are spending. So don’t waste it, and definitely don’t pull a Boebert and get caught in a reimbursement scandal now or later in your tenure in office.

Say What You Mean; Mean What You Say
It seems simple, but it’s the golden rule of politics, and too many — especially in this post-Trumpian-Mad-Max-America-in-crisis era — do nothing but pay it lip service. And some don’t even do that anymore. We may be well past the years when we could seriously wish for a Jefferson Smith/Jimmy Stewart hero from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but at the very least, don’t write a check that your mayoral ass can’t cash.
click to enlarge
Cableland, 4150 East Shangri La Drive.
Plan to Move Into the Mauve Mansion...
Cableland — the late cable-TV pioneer Bill Daniels’s purplish postmodern manse in Hilltop — was donated to the City of Denver for the purpose of serving as the Official Residence of the Mayor of Denver back in 2000. Thus far, no mayor has taken up residence at the 14,000-square-foot home…which does seem a shame. If the city can’t sell it (then-Mayor John Hickenlooper tried in 2010, but the move was blocked by Denver City Council), then it should be used and enjoyed and become a landmark for the city as it was designated back in 2019.

...and Then Share It With the City

Cableland is already available in certain ways to Denverites, but if staffed well enough, it could be used for so much more. Think about the good it would do, and the karma it would earn — not to mention the positive press — of the mayor of Denver opening up their home during a life-threatening cold snap like the city had before Christmas 2022. In short: Cableland can be nice digs for the mayor…and also a true asset to the community.

Choose Your Platforms Wisely...
What you focus on as “your” issue is going to define your mayoral years — and probably whether or not you’ll win enough votes to have those years in the Mayor’s Mansion. But don’t choose the thing that you think will appeal to more voters or will offend the least number of Denverites. Choose things that you care about, because you don’t have to practice speaking with convincing passion if you’re not putting on a show in the first place. Clearly, your platform does need to be relevant, but there’s lots to choose from for Denver: homelessness, affordable housing, economic insecurity, the environment, human rights, education, parks, mass transit. It’s an incomplete list, of course, but if your big passion project is something like two new pop machines on 16th Street, glitter Bonnie Bell dispensers in all the women’s public bathrooms and summer all year long? Go home. You’re drunk.

...and for Fuck’s Sake, Have a Platform
This isn’t a pageant, or the National Republican Party.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen

Latest Stories