By Eric Heinz
Not sure who to vote for in Denver’s mayoral election? You’re probably not alone. A large field of 17 candidates will dominate the ballot on April 4, with a likely run-off coming after that.
A recent poll, first reported by The Denver Post, from Republican firm Cygnal and Democratic firm Chism Strategies, commissioned by A Denver for Us All, showed a survey of about 400 likely Denver voters did not give more than 8% of support to any mayoral candidate.
Most respondents said they have not decided who they’ll support. One candidate led with 7.6%, but the margin of error was 4.9%. A candidate needs at least 50% of the vote to be elected outright.
The candidates are Al Gardner, Andy Rougeot, Aurelio Martinez, Chris Hansen, Deborah “Debbie” Ortega, Ean Thomas Tafoya, James Walsh, Kelly Brough, Kwame Spearman, Leslie Herod, Lisa Calderón, Mike Johnston, Renate A. Behrens, Robert Treta, Terrance Roberts, Thomas Wolf and Trinidad Rodriguez.
Since detailed coverage of 17 candidates could easily take up more space than a paper can provide, we felt the best option was hosting the debate to allow you to see and hear the candidates answer questions directly.
A recent mayoral debate was hosted by our sister publication, The Denver North Star, along with Regis University and numerous neighborhood associations.
The first question was aimed at making housing more affordable, particularly for young people to establish their lives in Denver, and answers ranged from raising supply to introducing rent control policies (a bill for which is going through the Colorado Legislature now). One of the key topics that’s been critical in politics nationwide is how to handle the homeless crisis Denver and other major cities face.
The second question focused on addressing unsanctioned encampments. One idea offered was to increase single- room-occupancy housing, such as purchasing unused hotels and motels. Another was to continue increasing housing with wraparound services, such as for people with drug addiction issues.
Some candidates described camping bans as criminalizing people simply because they are unhoused, and many of them have mental health issues such as schizophrenia. Some candidates said the city should provide more services for the unhoused, but at the same time it cannot be lax in addressing those who abuse government resources only to become a public nuisance.
Candidates also weighed in on how to reduce violent crimes and how to manage growth and gentrification so neighborhoods won’t get upended by new development.
Assuming no candidate exceeds 50% needed to win, we will sit down with both candidates for the runoff for comprehensive interviews