DENVER (KDVR) — The search for Denver’s next leader is on. A major contender stepped into the ring Thursday afternoon.

FOX31 was the first to break the story of state Rep. Leslie Herod’s entry into the race. The Park Hill representative made her bid official and kicked off what is set to be an interesting mayoral search.

Herod has been a very visible and vocal leader at the Capitol. She believes all the legislation she was able to pass could help her in this new endeavor.

FOX31 interviews Leslie Herod on mayoral candidacy

If you follow state politics at all, you probably know exactly who Herod is.

“I think my legislative career has prepared me to lead. Not only in my legislative career but my experience with Caring for Denver and my experience on the executive branch in the Ritter Administration,” Herod told FOX31 in a one-on-one interview. “I spent the entire Ritter administration as a senior policy advisor, implementing policies at the state level, at the local level across the state of Colorado. That’s what I want to put to work here for the people of Denver.”

The Denver representative already has some focal points for improvement.

“Across the spectrum of housing, it’s too expensive to live here and we’ve got to address it,” Herod said. “New folks coming in are feeling it, folks who have been here for generations are feeling the same thing. One thing I have recently talked about with some seniors who live in our community is that they are most upset that they can’t be close to their grandkids because their kids can’t live in the city.”

Getting the city’s workforce back on track is also on her radar as a priority.

“Immediately, we need to make sure we are filling those vacancies or at least providing support for the city workers that have been asking for it and need it,” Herod said.

While Herod looks to tackle affordable housing in the future, at the Capitol, she is known for passing landmark and controversial pieces of legislation impacting penalties for low-level drug possession, strengthening police accountability and restricting ketamine usage following the death of Elijah McClain. Despite getting some flack from opponents over passing those measures, Herod said she has no regrets from her time as a state legislator.

“Some of my proudest moments were when I stepped outside of the box and did things because the people wanted action,” Herod said. “Whether that is police accountability or creating Caring for Denver, which is our mental health and substance misuse foundation, it was really about doing things differently, not business as usual. That is extremely important.”

12 others vying to become Denver mayor

While there are 12 others vying for the spot, Herod is joining two other potential contenders in Denver City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega and former Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President Kelly Brough.

Herod said she believes the city wants to see change.

“I think Denver is ready for a female leader. We are ready for a woman mayor. And now, Denver will have to decide who the right woman is to do the job,” Herod said.

There are other potential candidates who have not filed yet.

Herod said she tossed her hat in now to make sure she can be a part of the city’s Fair Elections Fund.

“No matter your income level, you should be able to lead,” Herod said when asked about why she was participating. “The community should be able to decide if you should step into elected office. For too long, you had to be wealthy and depend on wealthy donors in order to do this work. Will this change the entire system? No. Does it help folks like me who are not independently wealthy stand a chance? Absolutely.”

Herod told FOX31 she does plan to keep her seat in the statehouse while campaigning for the mayoral office.

Watch the full interview with Rep. Leslie Herod in the video player above.