The list of candidates hoping to win the District 8 City Council seat that opened up due to councilwoman Carla Madison's death is a long one -- more than twenty to date. Among the more noteworthy? Warren Edson, who's best known for his advocacy of medical marijuana. Although he stresses that his run for the office is about much more than MMJ, he calls himself "probably the first politician born from this movement."
Edson notes that "we've been able to convince plenty of politicians to come over" to support of MMJ, "showing them that it's not scary and horrible. And I'm sorry, but it does create jobs" -- a reference to a controversial ad by city councilwoman Carol Boigon, who dropped out of the Denver mayor's race earlier today. "But I think I'm the first one to come from within."
He's getting support from another political veteran with medical marijuana connections: Former dispensary owner Wanda James, currently the co-owner of Simply Pure edibles, who's acting as his campaign manager. She served the same function for Representative Jared Polis's first run for Congress, and she's been a member of the National Finance Committee for President Barack Obama.
Ask Edson why he's bidding for the office, though, and medical marijuana isn't the first thing he mentions. After paying tribute to Madison, who he lauds for her passion, commitment and involvement in the lives of her constituents, he talks about moving to District 8 in 1994 and "watching the area go from most of the houses being boarded up to a wonderful neighborhood."
However, he adds, "we still haven't seen the kind of economic development we need on Welton -- and even though these are tough economic times, we need to push for that. And we need to focus on job creation and education, too. I've got a six-year-old who goes to public school in the district, and I've got some friends who say we're nuts for letting our kid go here. But the schools are improving, trying hard, and we need to support them -- and we need to get more employment and more businesses to move in to provide tax revenues for further funding.
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"I'm not someone who's fly-by-night," he emphasizes. "When I moved to Denver, I was fascinated that there was a neighborhood with houses and yards, but it was close enough to walk to the big buildings downtown -- and it's become a great place to live. I love baseball, and to have Coors Field pop up on the edge of the neighborhood, and to be able to walk there is something beautiful -- one of the reasons I fell in love with Denver and this district. And I want to see it continue to come around. Big chunks of Welton and Downing just aren't where they need to be yet, and I want to help this become an area where families and neighbors can walk to great activities, walk to the supermarket, walk to stores. I'd love to help bring that to the neighborhood."
How does he hope to stand out amid a literal mob of candidates? "I'm going door to door," he says. "I'll be out there, touching hands, talking to people who don't know me. And luckily, because I've lived in the neighborhood a long time, there are a lot of people who do know me."
The election is May 3. To learn more about Edson, visit EdsonForDenver.com.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana attorney Warren Edson on new law firm, new MMJ bill and new lawsuits to come."