Problem Solvers Guide to Denver’s May 7 Mayoral Election

DENVER -- Election Day in Denver is May 7.  While there are several candidates for mayor, four are considered major candidates based off of their fundraising of more than $10,000.

The Problem Solvers have identified Lisa Calderon, Michael Hancock, Jamie Giellis, and Penfield Tate as major candidates in the race.

Incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock 

The major question in this race is whether or not incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock will receive 50 percent plus one on May 7.

Most political experts believe he will finish first in the race but if he doesn't clear the 50 percent threshold he will face a runoff election with whoever finishes second.

The runoff election will be June 4.

"It has certainly been an intensive campaign," Hancock told FOX31 in a recent interview.

While Denver as a city is by most metrics thriving, the high cost of rent, homelessness, and traffic remain problem areas.

"I am the most experienced candidate in the race," Hancock said.

"I will take the challenges of a growing prosperous city than the challenges of a city I found when I came into office. We can address those challenges. " Hancock said.

One major obstacle for Hancock's reelection is whether or not his text messaging scandal from last year will weigh on voters minds. 

In 2018, Hancock admitted to sending inappropriate messages to a subordinate.

"It made me feel uncomfortable, it made my family uncomfortable, it made the community feel uncomfortable," Hancock said.

"Have you learned?" FOX31 Political Reporter Joe St. George asked.

"Absolutely and you don't go through those kinds of moments and don't learn from it. It was a terrible mistake," Hancock added.

Hancock in his interview defended his administration's policies including homeless sweeps and development policies. He also spoke critically of efforts by some candidates to institute building moratoriums and streetcar networks.

Penfield Tate

Challenger Penfield Tate has been a longtime fixture in Denver politics.  He is a former State Senator and current lawyer.

Tate believes the text messaging scandal will impact the race.

"People in Denver want an ethical, transparent government," Tate said.

On the issues, Tate has said he would support rent control if given the authority by the General Assembly. Current Mayor Hancock has said he would not. 

Tate has proposed a moratorium on new major development as one way to address gentrification problems in the city.

"Well, I have called for a moratorium on issuing building permits for large scale projects now," Tate said.

Jamie Giellis

Challenger Jamie Giellis is credited with helping turn around the Rino neighborhood. The urban planner is a former TV journalist who is hoping a grassroots campaign is enough to stop Hancock from winning outright on May 7.

Giellis has been conducting several neighborhood bus tours over the last year in the hopes of increasing name recognition.

On the text messaging scandal, Giellis says, "It's top of mind."

Giellis is distinguishing herself from other candidates in the race by promising a commitment to rebuilding the streetcar network in Denver to improve transportation.

"From a nostalgia point of view, people understand it was the network that used to connect our neighborhoods and modern technology now allows cities to reinvest," Giellis said.

Lisa Calderon

Challenge Lisa Calderon is a professor at Regis University and is a community activist.

On the text messaging scandal, Calderon says, "There was no accountability of him by the City Council" and believes it will impact votes.

Calderon has committed herself to issues like police administration reform, believing public safety departments are top heavy with administrators.

Calderon has also spoken out against homeless sweeps.

"I would stop the sweeps, the Urban Camping Ban was a disaster," Calderon said.

"When you criminalize poor people that just forces them into the justice system."

OTHER ISSUES ON BALLOT 

City Council members are being elected across the city as well and Denver voters will be casting votes on two initiatives.

Initiative 300 is an effort to give homeless persons more rights in city parks. Opponents have said it will stop homeless sweeps and result in camps in parks across the city. 

Initiative 301 would begin the process of legalizing Psilocybin mushrooms.

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