The Denver mayoral runoff has just begun and the last candidates standing, Michael Hancock and Chris Romer, are already pushing hard to differentiate themselves for the voters. Thursday was the first of what will likely prove to be many sparring matches between these two candidates caught in this close race runoff.
Thursday’s debate was filled with impassioned speeches by Romer and Hancock, each trying to respectfully separate themselves from the other on all issues from business to education. The two Democratic candidates are similar and their work is cut out for them as illustrated by the low turnout on Tuesday’s election and that Romer led Hancock by a slim margin of just above one thousand votes.
In his opening remarks, Romer was already outlining differences, the main theme of the event.
From The Denver Post:
"What I'd like to do is call out a few of the clear differences; there are some choices between the leadership style of Michael and myself," Romer said in his opening remarks. "The most clear is: Can you say no when it's tough to say no? We're at a point when that budget deficit will act like a cancer to the next administration. If you choose not to hit a reset button...you will overtake all the great things we want to do together."
Both candidates tried to shine a light on their strengths throughout the night. Romer took the angle of his vast experience and wisdom that comes with age.
"I have to explain to people of [Michael Hancock's] generation that, once upon a time, we didn't do numbers by spreadsheet," Romer said. "We actually did it old school with a piece of graph paper. And that's a good thing because the city budget is $100 million upside down. And so if the computers crash, I can go old school; pull out my 12c calculator, for which I've done $10-billion-worth of municipal investing, and I know how to put that [budget] together."
Hancock took a more practical approach, emphasizing his role in Denver’s City Council and his understanding of the business community.
"I have believed in the heart and soul of this city, I have believed in the business community as a partner," Hancock said. "And where we've had the opportunity to make decisions to invest, decisions to grow, we've done it. And so you know who I am. You don't have to guess how I'm going to react when I get in the Room 350. You know I'm going to be willing to stand in the gaps with the people of Denver to make those decisions. You know I'm going to be willing to be your partner and tell you 'no' when the answer's absolutely 'no.' But, 'yes and let's go' when it's time to invest in the heart and soul of Denver...Today, after almost 300 projects and retaining or creating over 7,500 jobs, the City of Denver can be proud that we made the right decisions [to invest]."
Romer: Experienced education reformist, Romer wants to focus on early literacy programs for Denver youths, attract new teachers, connect Denver high schools to leading local businesses and top national colleges.
Hancock: Continuing with his two terms in the City Council, Hancock wants to ensure that every child in Denver has access to high-quality education and health care programs, attract key industry players to the schools and encourage involvement and internships and create low-cost housing for educators so they can live near their schools.
Romer: A strong supporter of LGBT equality, Romer wants marriage equality, LGBT citizens to have a voice in City Hall, special care for youth and aging LGBT citizens, safe living for all of Denver’s citizens.
Hancock: Although he does not have an official stance on his website, Hancock has been a staunch supporter of LGBT rights, as reported by Colorado’s largest LGBT magazine, Outfront Colorado, Hancock wants a permanent LGBT advisory Commission, to move beyond a culture of tolerance to a culture of inclusion, protection for same-sex relationships, to appoint members of the LGBT community to various city departments and care for LGBT youth.
Arts and Culture
Romer: A patron and enthusiast of the the arts, Romer wants to support Denver’s vibrant art community by using public and private partnerships for financial support for local artists and galleries, encourage business development for artists to foster culturally rich neighborhoods, but not stifle them through impractical licensing as has been done in the past.
Hancock: Committed to and a long supporter of the arts in Denver, Hancock wants artists to participate in and thrive in Denver’s creative industries by forging partnerships with entrepreneurs and key industry players, increased exposure to the arts for all students, foster growth of Denver’s music and film industries and to expand opportunities for local artists at a national level to increase city tourism.
Romer: A strong business advocate, Romer wants to promote business growth and foster new jobs, actively recruit new companies to come to Denver bringing good jobs with them, be a catalyst for innovation by developing public-private financial partnerships for businesses and develop a pipeline from our schools of higher education and workforce training schools directly to businesses.
Hancock: A former CEO of a non-profit, Hancock wants to increase access to capital for small businesses and start-ups to promote growth, streamlining and simplifying business taxes, invest in Denver public schools at all levels to create a strong future workforce.
Romer: A supporter of renewable energy with solar panels on his own home, Romer wants to foster the growth of more clean energy jobs in Denver, increase clean public transportation to reduce pollution and continue to reduce Denver industry’s pollution footprint through leading sustainability group GreenPrint Denver.
Hancock: A main supporter of the solar array at Denver International Airport, Hancock is dedicated to clean energy wanting to attract clean-tech businesses to Denver to generate jobs and a highly-skilled workforce, elevating GreenPrint Denver to a permanent and fully empowered Office of the Mayor and establishing Denver Seeds - a new network of urban farms that will grow local and fresh food to shift food production to more local and less out-of-state industrial.