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Inside Denver’s 2019 mayoral race

Elections will be held on May 7

A runoff election will be held on June 4 if no candidate wins 50 percent of vote.
Photo Illustration: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry

The future of Denver rides heavily on the upcoming city elections, and nothing exemplifies this more than the tense mayoral race. While incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock has held the office since 2011, he has come into controversy in recent years following two scandals: his sexually suggestive texts to a member of his security detail and a video of his son, Jordan, verbally abusing an Aurora police officer after being pulled over.

Including Mayor Hancock, there are six candidates in the running. The other five are Jamie Giellis, Penfield Tate III, Kalyn Heffernan, Lisa Calderón, and Stephan “Seku” Evans. If no single candidate receives 50 percent or more of the vote, the top two will advance to a runoff election on June 4.

Blythe Scott, President of the CU Denver Political Science Student Union, highlighted the necessity of taking local elections seriously, saying, “It’s really important for people to vote [because] so much of daily life is influenced by local political decisions.” Specifically, Scott noted the sheer number of hot-button issues currently affecting Denver, concluding, “This is a really interesting race.”

Some massive issues loom before Denver, such as the urban camping ban, gentrification, and the affordable housing crisis. While many candidates are in agreement on how to handle these problems, they also vary widely in other regards.

Mayor Hancock, for example, supported the controversial camping ban when it was passed in 2012.

In 2016, the city’s affordable housing fund doubled from $15 million to $30 million. Jamie Giellis takes the affordable housing fund many steps further. If elected, she hopes to “[invest] $1B in attainable housing over the next 10 years,” according to her website. It states, “Adequate resources must be committed to end the housing crisis.”

Stephan Evans, otherwise known as “Chairman Seku,” seeks to lift the city’s ban on the open carrying of firearms, in hopes of allowing citizens to protect themselves adequately. He also favors the redistribution of wealth and ending the urban camping ban.

Lisa Calderón opposes the urban camping ban and believes that the people of Denver should elect their sheriff rather than have the sheriff be appointed by the mayor, as is currently the policy.

Kalyn Heffernan is a local activist and MC of the hip-hop group Wheelchair Sports Camp. She strongly opposes the camping ban and wants to “de-militarize the police.”

Penfield Tate III has a focus on improved urban planning, which he believes will remedy some of Denver’s homelessness and affordable housing issues.

All the candidate information listed above was taken from their respective websites, aside from Evans, who does not have a site but was interviewed by Westword on his candidacy.

Another factor that sets the candidates apart is their campaign budgets. According to Westword, Evans and Heffernan have the lowest budgets at $1,845 and $4,087.75 respectively. Next is Calderón at $87,305.84, Tate at $243,548.19, Giellis at $439,746 and, finally, Hancock at $1,745,902.41. Westword claims a large chunk of both Giellis and Hancock’s funds are derived from “special interest contributions.”

City elections will take place on May 7. More information can be found on the candidates’ websites, as well as on the Denver Elections Division site.

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