DENVER (KDVR) — Denver will have a new mayor soon. Mayor-elect Mike Johnston is set to take office in mid-July. He will have some new company in the council chambers too.
The race for mayor dominated headlines, but nearly half of Denver’s City Council will be new.
“We really saw voters pick a more moderate council when they had options to choose a more liberal or leftist council, and they decided not to do that overall,” said FOX31 political analyst Andy Boian.
There are 13 seats on Denver City Council. Seven of the sitting council members will be returning and six members are new. The two at-large winners, Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Sarah Parady, and District 8 winner Shontel Lewis, are considered to be more progressive.
Boian said Johnston will need to bring moderates and progressives together to solve the city’s problems.
“This is a Democratically left-leaning city that he is about to govern,” Boian said. “This is also a strong major form of government, so he is going to have a lot to do on the progressive side to keep people happy in that regard, and I think he has some ambitious goals to do that. I think there is a lot to be said for that. And then the moderates, I think, are with him already — the people that understand the fact that homelessness and crime have led the race.”
Boian said a way Johnston could do that is through his cabinet picks, including his choice for chief of staff.
“I think the most important decision he is going to make, and I think he is going to make it soon, is who his chief of staff is,” Boian said. “The rest of the cabinet makeup, particularly whoever is going to oversee natural resources, who’s going to oversee parks and rec, who’s going to oversee even the homeless and crime issues around Denver and the interface with the Denver Police Department, are going to have to be both a balance of progressives and moderates, and that person is out there. And he’s going to do, as he’s said, a nationwide search to find them —they might not be from Denver,” Boian said.
Boian believes Johnston will be up for the task of unifying the party.
“I’ve known Mike for 20 years and I can tell you that I’ve watched him go into situations that are high stakes, volatile, where two sides don’t agree, and he’s not responsible solely for bringing people together but he is somebody who is an aggregator of different ideas and can solve the issues with both sides feeling that they are satisfied. I think he knew that well. That’s where his legislative background really lends itself to this job well,” Boian said.
The new leaders will have their work cut out for them with all the issues plaguing the city — issues analysts say will take time and collaboration to solve.