Longtime Montbello resident Shayla R. Richard will challenge incumbent Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore for the District 11 seat, hoping to provide what she calls “an additional voice and view,” in one of the city’s largest districts.
“I think District 11 has been the stepchild of the city for some time and it’s time to change that,” Richard said. The district includes Montbello, Green Valley Ranch and DIA.
Richard, 37, submitted paperwork to run last week, doing so after consulting with her 9 year old son, Kaleo.
“(I) explained to him what it meant,” Richard said. “(He) gave me the thumbs up. I decided to go forward and file the paperwork, truly only because he believes me and supports me as his mother.”
Richard has no prior experience serving in public office, but she has volunteered in political campaigns in the past, including for state Sen. Angela Williams, of Denver, and state Rep. Jovan Melton, of Aurora.
“This is my first shot,” Richard said.
She currently works as a product analyst at Zayo Group in Denver.
Richard said she spent most of her childhood growing up in Northeast Denver, with her family living in Five Points and Park Hill, before relocating to Montbello, a neighborhood she’s lived in for 25 years. Her family has lived in Colorado since her grandmother, Helen Newman, moved to Denver from Louisiana with her mother (Richard’s great-grandmother) around 1949.
“She provided her daughter, future descendants, the opportunity to go to school, to get educated,” Richard said of her grandmother. “She didn’t want us to … work in the fields or to clean houses, she wanted us to get an education.”
After graduating from Montbello High School in 1999, Richard attended the University of Denver, majoring in communication and minoring in political science.
Gilmore was first elected to the seat in a run-off election in June 2015, and filed paperwork for reelection in February.
“I think what makes me different from Stacie is my perspective and the visions that I have in the district and where I would like to see things go,” Richard said.
“When I think about what Stacie is doing and what her interests are, I would say definitely it’s rooted in (her being an) environmentalist, a naturalist,” Richard said. Gilmore founded Environmental Leaming for Kids, which was nationally recognized for engaging kids in science and the outdoors.
One community concern Richard said she would like to address is street racing. During a community meeting last week in Montbello, several residents from that neighborhood and nearby Green Valley Ranch said they wanted police to do more about street racing.
“It’s really bad,” Richards said of the street racing. “I don’t let my son play outside.”
Richard said she would like to see big speedometers by schools and putting traffic signals in more major intersections.
Richard said her decision to run for City Council is rooted in her love for the community she’s grown up in.
It’s a place she said she’s seen undergo many changes, the vast majority of which she said haven’t been for the betterment of the community.
“For one, we live in a food desert,” Richard said. She wants residents to have access to healthy food, and also the ability to spend their money in their own neighborhood.
“Our transportation to the city has been augmented; RTD service isn’t as great as it should be … instead of being able to get to (one) bus, to get downtown … you have to take two buses.”
Richard also said she wants to improving local schools, which she said are underperforming, and to establish more community spaces, like coffee shops, so people don’t have to drive to Stapleton for amenities.
City records showed a third candidate, McKael Grayson, submitted paperwork to run in January. Grayson said over email this week that she is no longer running for the seat. Gilmore did not respond to calls for comment on Thursday.