CdeBaca, Watson Headed to Run-Off; Park Hill Measure Fails

By Eric Heinz

Based on unofficial results, Darrell Watson will face incumbent Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca in a run-off election June 6 for City Council District 9.

CdeBaca had the lead with about 44% of the vote, and Watson had about 43%. Kwon Atlas came in last with about 13%.

Election workers monitor the voting site at Swansea Recreation Center on Election Day. Photo by Eric Heinz

“I am thankful for the support we are receiving throughout the district,” Watson told The G.E.S. Gazette. “Our focus on progress not division is resonating. We are waiting for all ballots to be counted. We look forward to continuing to earn the support of every voter in D9.”

CdeBaca also acknowledged the success of her night.

“We are creating something brand new in this city,” CdeBaca stated in an email following the initial election results. “My plan all along has been to build power in our city. To build a movement that is unstoppable, to build a movement that is strategic. That movement was always going to be a target. And what we’ve done is force the opposition to spread their attention, their resources, and make them work.”


Voters shot down the measure that would have removed the conservation easement and allowed Westside Investment Partners and The Holleran Group, as well as various other partners, to develop housing and retail. The measure failed with about 59% of voters opposed to and 41% in favor of removing the conservation easement.

“For the second time since November of 2021, the citizens of Denver have voted in decisive fashion on the future of the conservation easement,” said Harry Doby, treasurer for the No on 2O initiative. “We were outspent 9-1 but the voters were not fooled by the false narrative that the land had to remain a golf course. Now, we look forward to the future of this land in working with a new administration. The possibilities are endless.”

Developers of the Park Golf Course also responded to the results. “The Park Hill Golf Course will forever be a case study in missed opportunities,” Westside Investment Partners stated to The G.E.S. Gazette.

“With historically low turnout, Denver has rejected its single best opportunity to build new affordable housing and create new public parks. Thousands of Denverites who urgently need more affordable housing are now at even greater risk of displacement.”

The developers said the conservation easement is clear: The land will have to return to a privately owned, regulation-length 18-hole golf course. They said the site will immediately be closed to public use or access with no housing, community grocery store or public parks allowed on this site. “Westside Investment Partners and The Holleran Group are grateful to every partner, community organization, volunteer and voter who campaigned for a brighter and more affordable Denver,” Westside stated.


The at-large City Council candidate race was close, but the frontrunners are current state House Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, who has about 20% of the vote, and Sarah Parady who has about 18%. The closest other two candidates are Penfield Tate and Travis Leiker, who both have just under 16% of the vote. There is no run-off election for the at-large seats, so the candidates who have the most votes at the end of the official tally will be elected to council, despite not gaining 50% of the vote.


In a crowded field with 17 candidates, Mike Johnston received the most votes, about 24%, with Kelly Brough coming in second with about 20% of the votes. Those two are headed to a run-off June 6.


Measure 2M asked voters whether to strike out a long section of the city’s charter and replace it with an order for the City Council to draft a new set of responsibilities for the Board of Adjustment that includes appeals for when someone alleges a decision error made by an administrative official, variances from the strict application of zoning regulations and a set of exceptions to those rules.

2M passed with about 75% of the vote. Councilwoman Robin Kniech previously said an amendment to modernize the Board of Adjustment’s work could come before the council by June. That would include changes to the appeals process, variances to the city code, and a guide for policies and procedures.

Measure 2N, which passed with about 67% of the vote, asked voters whether only property owners in Denver can bring a protest on a zoning district, but it does not apply to historic or business improvement districts or any other special district.

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