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21 candidates running in Denver’s first open mayoral race since 2011

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Douglas Kronaizl | Ballotpedia via The Center Square

Twenty-one candidates are running in the general election for mayor of Denver, Colorado, on April 4, 2023. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the top-two vote-getters will advance to a runoff on June 6, 2023.

Incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock, a Democrat, first elected in 2011, is term-limited. This is Denver’s fifth open mayoral election since 1959, the last time the city elected a Republican mayor.

Denverite‘s Kyle Harris wrote, “Denverites are worried about the city’s affordability … public safety and rising crime … [and] homelessness. People want solutions, and it’s clear that the people of the city understand that the mayor’s seat can try to tackle many of these issues.”

Former Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Kelly Brough, state Rep. Leslie Herod, former state Sen. Michael Johnston, At-large City Councilwoman Deborah Ortega, and Army veteran Andy Rougeot lead the field in fundraising and media coverage. While mayoral elections in Denver are officially nonpartisan, Brough, Herod, Johnston, and Ortega are Democrats, and Rougeot is a Republican.

These five candidates all identified the topics of public safety, homelessness, and housing affordability as key issues in their campaigns.

On the topic of public safety, Brough said, “We must hold people accountable for unlawful activity” and “pursue economic development and public health strategies that will help to alleviate desperation that drives criminal activity in the first place.”

Renate Behrens, Al Gardner, state Sen. Chris Hansen, Aurelio Martinez, Terrance Roberts, Trinidad Rodriguez, Kwame Spearman, Ean Tafoya, Robert Treta, James Walsh, and Thomas Wolf will also appear on the ballot. Matt Brady, Paul Fiorino, Jesse Parris, and Abass Yaya Bamba are running as write-in candidates.

Denver has a strong mayor government, where the mayor serves as chief executive, and the city council operates as a legislative branch. In Denver, the mayor sets the city budget, nominates department heads – including the city attorney – and makes more than 700 appointments to positions city-wide. The mayor also oversees the Denver International Airport, police and sheriff departments, and the community planning and development department.