It was only about 6 months ago that you filled out the longest ballot in Denver history, but it really is time to vote again.
This election, held on May 7 (you can vote as soon as you receive your mail ballot in mid-April), is a municipal election.
That means Denver residents will be voting on Denver things. We’ll be picking a mayor, a clerk and recorder, a city auditor and a whole bunch of City Council members. We also have two initiatives to vote on — one that would decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms and one that would repeal the city’s urban camping ban.
If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen a lot of Denverite stories explaining the issues and profiling the candidates. In the interest of saving everyone some site-searching, we’ve condensed it all into this guide (with plenty of links out to the meatier explainers).
Grab your ballot and get to it.
It’s kind of a big decision.
Denver has a “mayor strong” government and the mayor has a little more power than in some other cities. For one thing, the mayor’s office sets the city budget. For another thing, the mayor has power over the City Council, ultimately deciding whether or not the laws council creates actually become law.
So, yes, who we give that power to is pretty important.
Here is a guide from our friends over at Denverite:
Lisa Calderón: Lisa Calderón’s platform centers on affordable housing, “resident-led” development, decentralizing the mayor’s office, and women and workers.
Calderón co-chairs the Colorado Latino Forum, which works to bolster political strength and civic engagement among Latinos. The activist also founded the Community Reentry Project, a nonprofit to help former inmates flourish in society after jail.
Stephan Elliot Evans (better known as Chairman Sekú): If you’ve ever been to a Denver City Council meeting, you’ve been in the presence of Stephan Elliot Evans, who goes by Chairmen Sekú.
Sekú, who is a member of Black Star Action Network for Self Defense, said his first issue is crime. The activist said he would lift the ban on openly carrying guns in city limits “because people have to protect themselves.” He also said he would end the urban camping ban and give residents a greater share of the wealth wrought from development.
He first ran for mayor in 2011.
Jamie Giellis: Jamie Giellis helped develop and lead the RiNo Art District, a branded geographic area in the River North section of Five Points that works with businesses to finance neighborhood improvements.
If elected, she would focus on housing, transportation, environmental sustainability and education, she told Denverite. Moving people more efficiently with transit and biking is another goal.
Hancock, along with the city council, created Denver’s first-ever affordable housing fund. Still, the mayor has quarterbacked the city during a period of increasing gentrification and displacement.
His administration has made the intersection of transportation and housing a priority on paper this year, releasing new plans for transit, land use, walking and parks under the banner of “Denveright.”
Kalyn Rose-Heffernan: You may know Heffernan as the voice of Wheelchair Sports Camp, an experimental hip-hop group. Or as an activist fighting against displacement from gentrification. The 31-year-old is also a teacher at Youth on Record.
She’s running on a platform of access: access to shelter for people experiencing homelessness, to higher income, to education, to food, to water and to convenient public transportation. The candidate, who uses a wheelchair, said she would invest significantly in transit, work to repeal the urban camping ban and “redistribute the wealth and the power from the bottom up rather than the top down.”
Penfield Tate III: Penfield Tate is looking to restart his political career after 15 years away from elected office. He’s served as a state representative and state senator, but hasn’t held office since 2003.
Tate says he would rein in what he sees as poorly planned growth in order to preserve small businesses and affordable homes, and would address homelessness and affordable housing by working with the private sector, particularly nonprofit developers, to come up with “more creative” ways to incentivize new attainable homes.