The area of Life on Capitol Hill is covered by two Denver City Council districts: 9 and 10. In June, two new council members were elected to those districts. Councilmember Candi CdeBaca will represent District 9, while Councilmember Chris Hinds will represent District 10. Both will be sworn in with the rest of the City Council on July 15.
In the August issue, look for our profiles of the two City Council-at-Large members. At-Large councilmembers represent the city as a whole. Both Deborah Ortega and Robin Kniech were reelected this year.
Editor’s Note: District 9 covers the Globeville, Elyria Swansea, Five Points, Cole, Clayton, Whittier, Skyland, City Park West, City Park, Auraria, Union Station and the Central Business District neighborhoods.
After a tight runoff race, Candi CdeBaca claimed victory in District 9, in what she considers to be a historic win.
CdeBaca is the first democratic socialist to serve on Denver’s City Council. She’s also the first LGBTQ woman of color on council.
“Representation really does matter,” CdeBaca said. “We’ve never had representation from Globeville or Swansea on City Council.”
The campaign for mayor was not the only one to bring in issues of race. During the runoff race flyers were distributed in the Clayton neighborhood with images of incumbent Albus Brooks’ face on top of a monkey peeling a banana. The flyer read “Time for this monkey to go,” and claimed to come from CdeBaca’s campaign office.
Both Brooks and CdeBaca condemned the flyer, and CdeBaca denied that the flyer came from her campaign.
“We made it very clear that that wasn’t welcome, and that was the opposite of what we were fighting for,” she said. “Luckily people were able to see through it, and counter it and neutralize it with the positive and the facts.”
She added that since much of the focus of her campaign had been to address racial inequity in Denver, it was not hard to convince voters that the flyers did not come from her office. But, CdeBaca said it was a teaching moment on the power of campaign ads.
CdeBaca said that the race began to “devolve” during the runoff. From the beginning she had made sure to avoid a negative or smearing campaign against Brooks. Instead, her campaign focused more on giving power to the voters, educating residents on how to become informed voters and making a choice for themselves.
“I never tried to convince somebody at their door to vote for me,” CdeBaca said.
Now that she’s been elected, she’s hopeful that she and the rest of City Council can pose a challenge to the chain of command in the city. Members of City Council, she said, “report to the people and no one else.”
One of the things CdeBaca would like to tackle is the public process with development projects. Projects go to city committees first and then to council before the public gets involved, she said. Many of the residents she spoke to during the campaign felt that they had no voice in the city process. She’s hoping to reverse that and have developers go to the public first since residents are the people who will be impacted most.
Neighborhoods in District 9 have long been home to some of Denver’s most vulnerable populations of people. The district saw more displacement during early development in the city than any other area in Denver.
CdeBaca, a Denver native who’s family has lived in District 9 for the last five generations said that the area is a “part of my being.”
“There’s not a part of my life that doesn’t have this in the background,”she said. “I’ll be looking at policy making and engagement through the lens of the people who have been the most forgotten and silenced.”
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