Governing Magazine has named Denver’s mayor one of eight 2016 public officials of the year.
This is an award the magazine, which covers, yes, government, hands out to elected and appointed leaders who “have had a notable positive impact on their department or agency, community or state.”
“For our eight honorees, it’s about taking on issues of social inequality through new solutions for housing, public transit, early childhood development, and the health and wellness of an entire community,” the magazine wrote in announcing the awards. “It’s about seeing a nationwide opioid crisis and coming together to address it. It’s about helping those struggling with mental illness, rather than locking them up in overcrowded jails. It’s about ensuring that taxpayer dollars are managed well, and that state revenues are aligned with the reality of the 21st-century economy.”
This follows a trend of glowing national coverage for Denver that doesn’t always comport with how residents experience the city. At the very least, we can say Denverites have complex feelings about their mayor, who has presided over both an economic boom and unprecedented displacement. Hancock made a video after Donald Trump’s election that assured residents the city “has your back.” It was released the same day police were once again clearing homeless people from the sidewalks of Broadway and Park Avenue West.
Governing’s profile of Hancock praises him for balancing concern for those who are less well off against the city’s prosperity. Along with the opening of the A Line, the magazine cites accomplishments like the recently approved permanent fund for affordable housing and the extension of the sales tax that funds the Denver Preschool Program. Governing also praises Hancock’s support for improving government efficiency through the Peak Academy, which has generated $15 million in savings from ideas put forward by city employees.
“Michael Hancock is proud of Denver’s progress, but the mayor spends much of his time these days making sure that the upswing isn’t reserved for the wealthiest and best-educated in his community,” Governing wrote. “‘It’s important that we utilize the prosperity,’ Hancock says, ‘to bring along those who may not have the skills or tools necessary to come along on their own.'”
In a press release, Hancock said he was “honored and humbled” by the recognition.
“It recognizes what we’ve been able to accomplish and our work to elevate Denver as a city of opportunity for our residents,” he said. “For me, this award represents the hard work and dedication of our more than 13,000 city employees who work tirelessly to serve this great city we all love. I’m proud that everyone’s work has made Denver such an active and thriving city.”
The other honorees are: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, King County, Washington, County Executive Dow Constantine, Kristen Cox, executive director of Utah’s Office of Management and Budget, Steven Leifman, a county judge in Miami-Dade County in Florida, Keith Parker, general manager and CEO of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, South Dakota state Sen. Deb Peters and Nick Macchione, director of San Diego County Health and Human Services.