Giellis endorsers respond, continue support following NAACP flub


Giellis, Tate and Calderon

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DENVER — Two former Denver mayoral candidates said they will continue supporting Jamie Giellis following her forgetting what “NAACP” stands for during a recent interview.

“NAACP” is an acronym for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

In the May 7 election, Giellis received the second-most votes after incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock. The two will be in a runoff election on June 4.

Following the May election, former candidates Penfield Tate and Lisa Calderón endorsed Giellis. 

A spokesperson said Giellis, Tate and Calderón said Thursday that all three “will be attending various community events to talk about these very issues and to listen to the community.”

In a statement, both Tate and Calderón said they appreciate Giellis taking responsibility for the mistake and not making excuses.

The full statement from Tate and Calderón is below:

“Every public official should know the history and contributions of such an esteemed historic civil rights institution as the NAACP. We appreciate Jamie Giellis taking full responsibility for her recent statements and not making excuses, which will be a refreshing change from the current administration.

Jamie will re-double her effort and commitment to serving the Black community and all historically marginalized communities in Denver by spelling out a specific agenda to rebuild Black community wealth, which has been depleted over the past eight years under the current mayor.

Jamie’s agenda will be key to reversing the high rate of displacement resulting from economic and housing disinvestment — consistent concerns we’ve heard loud and clear on the campaign trail, particularly from Black community members.

We are committed to working with Jamie to develop and implement an agenda to increase economic opportunity, including investment in Black-owned businesses, which comprise only 1.5% of the city’s contracts currently under a Black mayor.

We are not only committed to accountability of our public officials, but also to ensuring that African Americans who have been left out of the prosperity of Denver have a seat at the policy-making table, starting with a frank conversation with the community about race, culture and history that will include Jamie and her leadership team. These are the steps we are taking to #UniteDenver.

Representation matters. Building a diverse leadership team under a new administration is critically important, and a publicly stated priority for Jamie. As part of her volunteer transition team, we look forward to identifying and recommending fresh voices for leadership opportunities in city government —  rather than just recycling the same insiders for select lucrative appointments, which is so common with the current administration.

We hope the same kind of outcry about Jamie not knowing the historic significance of the NAACP extends to an even louder outcry against the high rate of displacement and economic inequity African Americans in Denver have experienced over the past eight years.

We further hope that we hold all public officials to a higher standard of accountability for their cultural and gender competence, including the current mayor.

When we do so, we all promote the mission of the NAACP “to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.”

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