Denver mayoral race: Giellis would repeal urban camping ban, Hancock would keep it

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DENVER — The race for Denver mayor continues to intensify with fewer than 12 days before the runoff election on June 4. On Thursday, incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock and challenger Jamie Giellis met for a debate.

One of the biggest issues in the debate was homeless policy. After all, it is a major point of contention between the candidates.

Giellis would repeal the urban camping ban.

Hancock would keep the urban camping ban.

Denver’s urban camping ban allows for so-called sweeps in which city officials can remove homeless people from parks and sidewalks.

“Spending a lot of money on policing and criminalization isn’t getting us anywhere,” Giellis said.

“How many of you have been to Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle? You know Denver doesn’t resemble those cities,” Hancock said in defending the camping ban policy.

Giellis’ homeless policy is perhaps the most nuanced. Giellis was against Initiative 300 last month, which would have repealed the urban camping ban. Now, she wants to repeal the policy.

“The urban camping ban — and I’ve encouraged Jamie to read it so she’ll understand — you can’t say ‘oppose I300,’ then turn around and say ‘repeal the camping ban’,” Hancock said.

“First off, I have read the urban camping ban, so thank you for that challenge,” Giellis responded. “I’m not flip-flopping on the urban camping ban. I think the urban camping ban hasn’t moved the needle on the problem and 300 wasn’t a solution.”

Both candidates are in favor of improving shelters and more affordable housing as well as continuing this debate.

“You can’t just sprinkle fairy dust and expect the problem to go away,” Hancock said to Giellis.

“I think its incredibly offensive to imply I was promising to sprinkle fairy dust on the problem of homelessness,” Giellis replied.

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