It’s Time To Break The Mold, Bring Together Neighborhoods
Denver mayors I have known and worked with don’t fit any particular shape or mold.
A few of them, in fact, broke the mold. That is what made them so successful.
Everyone knows and politicians all say, to manage a great city you need a commitment to making sure that the city is run in a competent manner. A commitment to addressing the needs of neighborhoods by seeing services delivered, ensuring that employees are supported and empowered to discharge their duties effectively and competently, and that every voice is heard and listened to.
But saying and doing are different things. We need to flip that model from top down and “managing,” to listening and leading. We need to see our city differently and rethink how we define our assets from not just physical but also cultural, informational, social and, most importantly, human. That’s how you break a mold.
We need to become a learning city: a city that through listening, knowledge, learning, education and embracing the whole, grows individual empowerment and social inclusion, generates and balances economic growth with sustainable development. This is being done across the world, and we need to do it in Denver.
I am running for mayor because Denver needs a new direction and energy to address the real issues that confront us. Denver needs a mayor who is worthy of a great city. The headlines you have seen the last eight years are not the types of stories you have read about prior mayors. It is simply not the Denver way of doing business.
First, we need to embrace that our city is a whole made up of many wonderful places, great people and quite frankly purposes. And, what happens, for instance in the Globeville neighborhood, does impact the whole city. We need to quit thinking, for example, that the impact of Interstate 70 is in Globeville, Elyria and Swansea’s backyard. We need to accept and understand those issues are yours and mine also – that those issues are our issues.
Similarly, we have to be mindful that a solution in one neighborhood may generate a new issue in another neighborhood. What is happening on the topics outlined below are not the issues of the homeless or small business or areas of town – they are our issues. We have to acknowledge that the issues in each neighborhood are all our issues. And we must solve them comprehensively, with our entire city in mind. Not kick the can down the road or wait until an election to start talking about how to address them.
The lack of commitment to effective and competent government in our city has manifested itself in a myriad of problems that are only compounding. As mayor, I will address these from day one:
• Housing and Homelessness — Take a walk by our jewel of civic life, the Denver Art Museum, downtown. Adjacent is a grand new hotel, and a homeless encampment that is growing by the day. This is a sign of a broken city. I will bring the community together to address homelessness in a humane and comprehensive manner. This is not a problem to be solved by press release but by real leadership. We can partner with neighborhoods and developers and reevaluate our building codes to adopt strategies to once again bring affordable home construction to our city.
• Gentrification – This problem derives from City Hall policies that imposes new development on communities rather than for those communities. We need to stop talking about or to those communities and talk with those communities. We can have responsible growth that preserves neighborhoods and the environment.
• Small Businesses — Take a walk through downtown or many neighborhoods and too many storefronts are vacant. Small business drives our economy in the short and long term and they have been neglected for too long. I reemphasize the work of the mayor’s Office for Job Training and organize that office to align more closely with the needs of small business owners by listening to those business owners. City Hall needs to fight for our locally owned small businesses.
• Transportation – Getting across town is getting miserable. There is no other word to describe it. Good ideas to improve the situation get nowhere as once again the current team lacks the commitment to do the job right. Even the bike lane expansion effort has been poorly executed. We need to incentivize people to use public transportation, build a more robust bus system and use data systems and technology, and embrace entrepreneurship to tackle this problem. Around traffic, we must become aggressive before gridlock does more damage to our economy and the environment.
I am running for mayor of Denver to bring together a community of people of all neighborhoods, backgrounds and political persuasions to become one. To unite and to rebuild and reimagine a Great American City.