When Albus Brooks was first elected president of the Denver City Council in 2016, he was in the hospital having surgery for cancer and his father had just died unexpectedly.
And one of his colleagues, Councilman Rafael Espinoza, said he had to withhold his “yes” vote because Brooks’ positions were “directly antithetical to what we’re trying to accomplish and do in District 1.”
On Monday, the council chamber overflowed with praise for Brooks’ work ethic, his devotion to public service, the way he has shepherded controversial issues with respect for all sides — even from Espinoza.
“I can’t remember if I voted no last time or abstained,” Espinoza said. “You abstained,” Brooks said, with no hesitation to search his memory.
“I think you didn’t take it as a challenge,” Espinoza said. “You just were you.”
And Espinoza described Brooks as “someone willing to listen to the minority on council” and himself as someone who was “happy to be a yes vote.”
Brooks was re-elected unanimously.
Councilwoman At-large Robin Kniech marveled at Brooks spending his Friday nights knocking on constituents’ doors and Councilwoman Kendra Black, who nominated Brooks, described Brooks as someone who sees the strengths of each council member and understands the role they can play.
Councilman Chris Herndon, who preceded Brooks as president, said that often someone leaving a job thinks the person coming after cannot possibly do as good a job.
“When I handed over the gavel to Councilman Brooks, I never worried about that,” he said.
Brooks represents District 9, which includes large parts of downtown, as well as Five Points and Globeville, Elyria and Swansea, where he has faced stiff opposition over his support for the I-70 expansion.
“This work is not easy,” Brooks said. “People are yelling at you. People are showing up at your doorstep because of specific issues and policies. Our jobs are to bring dignity back to politics, and you guys have helped me do that.”
The Denver City Council also voted unanimously to give a second term to Jolon Clark as president pro tem of the council.
The council president runs council meetings and makes appointments to council committees, where the details of policy are often hashed out before they come for a full vote. The president also has an ex-officio role and can attend and vote in any and all committees.