Chris Hinds, a Capitol Hill resident who has become a frequent presence at the state legislature, is the latest candidate in the Denver City Council election.
“I kind of feel like I’ve been an activist my whole life, and I don’t like it when people say no,” he said in an interview. “And I feel like there have been a lot of people who have said no.”
Hinds is filing in District 10, which includes Capitol Hill and Cherry Creek. He’ll be challenging incumbent Councilman Wayne New. Also running is Patrick Key, a Capitol Hill resident who promises to be a “man of the people.”
“For some reason, I got the bug,” Key told Denverite. “It bit me, and I was just going to blow it off as just a passing phase.”
Let’s meet the new candidates.
Hinds has been building his resume.
He’s spent much of the last few months in the halls of the state Capitol, where the Chris Hinds Act is waiting for the governor’s signature.
The bill aims to stop people from needlessly getting disability license plates and placards for their cars in order to avoid paying parking fees. The bill would limit that benefit to people who have trouble using parking meters, including people who use wheelchairs and other assistive devices.
The change is meant to discourage people from taking advantage of disability statuses, Hinds said, and it’s an example of his advocacy work.
“I’m a white male, grew up in Texas, educated, who also happens to have a disability,” said Hinds, 43, who has had reduced mobility since he was injured in a car crash in 2008.
“Not many people can say, ‘I’m a white male and a minority.’ I think in some ways, that really helps me. I didn’t really know what advantages white males have, until I no longer had those advantages.”
Hinds believes he would be the first person who uses a wheelchair to serve on the Denver council. “None of the council seats are wheelchair accessible,” he said.
But his agenda will go far beyond disability advocacy, he said. Improving transportation options, especially sidewalks, is a focus for him.
In previous elections, he said, “the mayor and the majority of the city council electeds talked about multi-modal transit,” he said. “And I’m not certain that we’re realizing some of the campaign (promises) that we had.”
Hinds wants to increase the city government’s spending on affordable housing. He would take a more skeptical approach to developers, too, as he seeks a “balance” between new construction and existing communities. He has served on various neighborhood boards, including Capitol Hill United Neighbors.
“If we find the right developers, and we find the right way to create those conversation. There are ways to find a middle ground that works. My position isn’t, ‘Screw all the developers … obviously we need them to find a way to keep Denver growing,” he said.
He would like to reduce the role of builders in influencing city politics, he said. “I don’t want to be the anti-developer candidate, necessarily, but I want to be the pro-citizen candidate.”
Patrick Key wants a stricter approach to homelessness and crime.
The 48-year-old resident of Capitol Hill said he has a better “pulse” on the district than incumbent New.
The first-time candidate currently works three jobs — as a stagehand, a housekeeper and a security company employee.
“If I’m not building it, I’m cleaning it. I’m trying to juggle all of this. It’s a challenge, but I’m trying to maintain it,” he told Denverite.
The idea to run came to him in 2016. Among his top priorities, he sees a need to reduce the crowds of people — many of them homeless — in Civic Center Park, where one sidewalk “looked like a landfill,” he said.
“I’d run them all off,” he said. “I know that’s not fair and it’s not going to put a smile on anyone’s face.” He also would like to see a stronger police presence at the Denver Public Library and elsewhere in order to reduce drug use, he said.
“My base would be the homeless and crime, trying to eliminate the crime,” he said. Overall, he said, he would bring more representation for the residents of the northern part of the district.
“If I lose, which is highly probable, I’ll go down swinging and smiling at the same time,” he said, laughing.
“If I win, you’re going to get the whole and the best of me. You can best believe me: a shakeup would be an understatement.”
Updated to reflect the status of the Chris Hinds Act.