OPINION – Denver is picking a new mayor

The city of Denver is holding an election for a new mayor on April 4, 2023. On the Ballotpedia website, 21 candidates are listed, all vying for the top job running the city. 13 of those candidates will participate in a February 16 debate sponsored by 9NEWS.

For the first time since 2011, there will be no incumbent candidate seeing reelection as Mayor Michael Hancock is term limited after serving three terms as mayor. The candidates include state lawmakers, a veteran city councilor, a former head of the city’s chamber of commerce, several social justice advocates, and two business CEOs.

What are some of the issues that candidates should be asked about during the upcoming debates and other press conferences? There are plenty.

Start with crime. Denver has become “America’s crime capital” according to the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle. They report crime in the Mile High City is now worse than New York City and Chicago. 

Auto theft is now the second highest in the nation based on Denver Police Department data. Far from a safe city on the edge of the Rocky Mountains, Denver draws safety comparisons to New Orleans and Baltimore.

Homeless is on the rise as is illegal immigration, both adding to the crime woes of Denver. Denver is a proud sanctuary city, now getting the influx of illegal migrants that city leadership eagerly asked for. Fentanyl deaths are on the rise in Denver, the drug passing across the open southern border with ease. 

Denver residents are leaving for safer and greener pastures. Home sales continue to fall, as the Denver Post reported, a combination of rising home mortgage interest rates and declining interest in living in Denver due to some of the above problems.

Similarly Denver Public Schools face declining enrollment as parents choose safer schools where reading and writing is emphasized over gender pronouns and critical race theory. 

Downtown Denver is dying with empty storefronts on the 16 St Mall. How will remaining businesses survive? Who will risk their safety dining at downtown Denver restaurants?

This creates a vicious cycle of declining business and tax revenues which make it harder for businesses to survive, driving them out of business or to move elsewhere, further exacerbating the problem.

What plans do these almost two dozen mayoral candidates have for righting the sinking ship of Denver? Affordable housing and safe injection sites will not resurrect Denver’s fortunes. 

It’s a shame that a once beautiful and prosperous city is going the way of San Francisco, Portland, or Seattle. Hopefully the local media, including the 9NEWS debate moderators will ask the mayoral candidates the tough questions about their plans for reversing the decay.