Danny Lopez, a longtime city worker — and, it turns out, a DJ — is running for Denver mayor

“I was Joe the Plumber before there was Joe the Plumber.”
3 min. read
Denver mayoral candidate Danny Lopez poses for a portrait during his karaoke DJ set at Dubb’s Pub in Littleton, Nov. 2, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Mayoral candidate Danny Lopez is a pipeline inspector for Denver Public Works by day, but at night you might find him at Dubb's Pub on South Broadway slinging country and rock hits to karaoke faithfuls.

This isn't Lopez's first time running. The 59-year-old Bear Valley resident proudly reminds Denverite that he was John Hickenlooper's only opponent in the 2007 race for Denver mayor, grabbing 12 percent of the vote. He ran against Mayor Michael Hancock and others in 2011, when he garnered a little less than 1 percent of the vote. In 2015, he ran for City Council in District 2 just like he did in 2003, never winning public office.

Now he's running against eight others for the chance to run Denver.

"I'm not friends with all the politicians, but I'm one of those guys that's been out there because I'm just the average guy," said Lopez, 59. "I was Joe the Plumber before there was Joe the Plumber."

He's also Danny the Karaoke DJ every once in a while -- that's what he was doing when we found him for a photo.

Lopez's platform is much less flashy, though. His main goal, he said in an interview, is to ensure Denverites earn a wage that lets them live comfortably. He thinks raising the minimum wage is a good way to do that, and that the City and County of Denver should set an example with a pay scale that keeps up with the cost of living.

Denver mayoral candidate Danny Lopez sings a song by the Zac Brown Band as he DJs karaoke at Dubbs Pub in Littleton, Nov. 2, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"Right now it takes people 20 years to top out at their position," he said. "It takes too long. The raises aren't progressive enough."

Lopez said he would also address traffic, which in his book is about prioritizing cars more. He does not like bike lanes and claimed that the city spends too much money to separate people on bikes from vehicle track. (The city spends much more maintaining car lanes than building bike lanes, according to its budget, and data suggests people are increasingly using new bike lanes.)

The longtime civil servant is not just running for office, but also making a statement about how the city's political system "selects" people via connections and money. He sees the deck stacked against "regular" people like him, he said, a 20-year veteran of the trades who coaches Little League and lacks a college degree.

"An average guy like me, I'm running for office because I want to be a public servant and have for years now," Lopez said.

The slate for mayor is packed. Lopez will face Hancock, Jamie Giellis, Kalyn Rose Heffernan, Penfield Tate III, Lisa Calderón, Stephan Elliot Evans (better known as Chairman Seku), Marcus Giavanni and Kenneth Simpson in the May 2019 election.

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