New Year’s resolutions for Denver, by Denverites you know or should know

Here are the 2019 hopes and expectations of author Helen Thorpe, former state legislator Wilma Webb, Mayor Michael Hancock, City Council President Jolon Clark, DaVita CEO Kent Thiry, self-described abolitionist Elisabeth Epps and more.
12 min. read
The Colorado State Capitol seen from 1144 Fifteenth, March 22, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

What do you want for Denver in 2019? How might you work toward that?

We've asked Denver luminaries and elected officials for their New Year's resolutions -- some are below, and we'll be updating with more through the first week of the new year.

Michael Hancock, mayor of Denver

Mayor Michael Hancock speaks during the 2018 Sustainable Denver Summit at the Colorado Convention Center, Nov. 29, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"My new year's resolution is to take more time with my family to really learn to disconnect, if you will, to disconnect from technology and spend more quality time with my family," Mayor Michael Hancock said. More broadly, he hopes Denver residents do the same. He wants residents to focus on taking more time to manage their physical, mental and emotional health. "This is a year for all the people of Denver to think of their well-being and physical well-being." A bonus resolution for 2019: Hancock said he hopes to see more people use alternative forms of transit in the city.

-- As told to Esteban L. Hernandez

Helen Thorpe, author

To research her book "The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in America," published last fall, author Helen Thorpe embedded herself in the lives of refugee students at Denver's South High School. She's still spending a lot of time at South, where she's been impressed by students like Marwan Nassr, who was born in Iraq, raised in Syria and an asylum seeker in Turkey.

"We're challenged in terms of leadership nationally," Thorpe said. "It makes me want to invest even more in leadership starting at the high school level.

"I see when I do spend time with students and student leaders I feel so optimistic."

Nassr, she said, is "someone who has the capacity to lead us all going into the future."

"With 'The Newcomers,' I'm giving part of the proceeds to the Denver Scholarship Foundation hoping they will direct the money to the kinds of kids I was writing about in the book."

-- As told to Donna Bryson

Jeff Fard, cultural and community organizer

Brother Jeff Fard questions developers after they announced new plans for the Rossonian Hotel. Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, April 16, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"One of my primary new year's resolutions will be to be instrumental in ending school segregation in Denver Public Schools and holding them accountable for unconstitutional acts as it relates to Brown v. Board of Education. I think it's shameful that right here in northeast Denver, on one side of Colorado Boulevard, you have a majority white school in McAuliffe International School, and on the other side, you have the same institution in McAuliffe middle school that's predominantly (non-white). It clearly points to segregation happening in our midst."

-- As told to David Sachs

Jolon Clark, Denver City Council president

Jolon Clark, Denver City Council, Feb. 12, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"My New Year's resolution is to spend more time outside and in our Denver Parks. I used to get to spend all day out along the river in Denver for work, but now I am stuck inside most of the day, and I miss that daily connection to the outdoors."

-- As told to David Sachs

Wilma Webb, former state legislator

Former Colorado Rep. Wilma Webb - who credited with establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a state holiday - speaks before the marade leaves City Park, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"For 2019, I would hope that we as a nation, we as people in general, are better equipped with manners, and that we're respectful and kinder and more thoughtful, and have greater appreciation for one another and our elders. I think we are truly in need of treating one another better in terms of how we talk with each other and how we engage with one another.

"And of course it's the same resolution I have every year: I would hope that our world be a more peaceful world than it is right now. And I hope that where there have been some progresses made in terms of a better economy, that a better economy would reach not only the better connected people, but the masses of people trying to make ends meet."

-- As told to David Sachs

Rebecca Chopp, chancellor of the University of Denver

"I hope that the University of Denver and Denver continue and expand phenomenal partnerships. DU works hard with nonprofits, employers arts and the city to expand opportunities for everyone from young children to the healthy aging and in between.

"Denver is a really special place. Many of our students and faculty and staff come from outside of Colorado. They are welcomed warmly and in turn want to work with the city.

"We have a lot of faculty and students and staff who work in mental and behavioral health, so we partner with a lot of schools in Denver, we work with a lot of neighborhoods and a lot of communities, because we know that children can learn in school only if they have a stable mental health wellbeing situation."

-- As told to Dave Burdick

Crisanta Duran, former Colorado House Speaker

Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran speaks in her Colorado State Capitol office the day after the legislative session ended, May 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"This year, I want to spend more time with the people I care about the most," Duran said in an email to Denverite. "I already hooked a barracuda on a fishing trip this past week so in 2019, I'll turn my attention to other outdoor activities: I'll be getting in more Colorado hiking and skiing. I also want to learn to cook chicken tikka masala. I'll be cheering on the legislature as well as Gov.-elect Polis and his administration who I know will accomplish great things for our state.

"Next year and beyond, I want to help Coloradans at every level to continue the blue tsunami into 2020."

-- As told to Esteban L. Hernandez

Marie Greenwood, educator

Marie Greenwood, 106, began teaching at Denver's Whittier Elementary in 1935, becoming one of the city's first African-American teachers. In 2001, Denver Public Schools named the Marie L. Greenwood Academy in her honor.

In her autobiography, "By the Grace of God," Greenwood describes overcoming racial barriers. Her hopes for Denver and the country in 2019 include strengthening public schools, including their financing; ensuring young learners in particular are supported; and seeing people of all ages embrace learning.

"Even at my age I'm a dedicated teacher," she said.

Greenwood Academy students visit their school's namesake at her home to share their impressions of her autobiography and talk about their experiences in a program at the school called Each One Teach One.

Each One Teach One, which emphasizes using reading skills in real-world tasks and having students pass on what they've learned to one another, "is doing so much in my school that DPS administration wants to get it expanded into other schools. It's really zooming at my school," Greenwood said.

"Some of my basic philosophies of education are still good. One thing is that nothing is so bad that it couldn't be worse. So be grateful for what you have. The other is, never stop learning. Believe it or not, at 106 I'm still learning."

-- As told to Donna Bryson

Elisabeth Epps, abolitionist

Elisabeth Epps poses for a portrait in front of the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center downtown, May 11, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"I would love to see for 2019, Denver eliminate cash bail, because Denver and Colorado have for a long time been leaders in justice related issues and money bail is a tool of mass incarceration. And if Denver moved into being its best self, ending money bail is one of the ways we're going to make Denver a more equitable and just place for everyone."

-- As told to Allan Tellis

Susana Cordova, incoming superintendent of Denver Public Schools

At the end of 2018, Cordova was named superintendent of the 92,000-student Denver Public Schools district. We asked her to reflect on her aspirations in 2019 for both the city and its children. Her responses were intertwined. She started with the children, saying she hoped that "we as a school district and as a city really come together to ensure that each and every one of our children are nurtured, supported and pushed and developed to be the very best versions of themselves that they can."

She also said a rapidly changing city needed to both nurture those who have been living here and welcome newcomers, and create "the policies and ways of living in Denver that promote access for everyone."

-- As told to Donna Bryson

Kent Thiry, CEO of DaVita

DaVita CEO Kent Thiry speaks at a press conference for the new UChooseCO campaign, which aims to inform unaffiliated voters that they can now participate in primary elections. April 3, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"For me, for Denver, (my resolution) is to continue to advance the Denver Public School system and dream of giving every child a strong, educational foundation."

And: "It's going to sound nerdy, but we need to modernize the zoning rules to increase the emphasis on aesthetic design so that Denver is beautiful and citizen-friendly as it is prosperous."

-- As told to Esteban L. Hernandez

Frank Locantore, executive director of the Colfax Ave Business Improvement District

Frank and Jill Locantore. (Courtesy: Frank and Jill Locantore)

"I hope that the city of Denver is able to effectively break down the silos of city government in order for their impact to be greater than the sum of their parts.

"I know who to go to for permits for planting a tree and there's another person for putting in a bike rack or a trash can or a sign. And there's different people for all of those things.

"However each one of those people can say yes to me and in doing so I'm creating an obstacle course and a trip hazard along Colfax Avenue. That's a small example of what I'm talking about in terms of having a systems person in control and going, yeah we can put a bike rack there, but isn't there a trash can right next to that, and a 5G pole next to that? And how are people going to walk down the sidewalk if we're going to have all of these things there?

"It's to benefit the community and have a public realm that is filled with delight -- and not trip hazards."

-- As told to Dave Burdick

Louise Martorano, RedLine Contemporary Art Center executive director

"One of the things that RedLine has been very involved in and that I'm just super passionate about is kind of figuring out how we can continue to participate on the leading edge of conversations around advocacy for artists and live-work space, and how that plays into an affordable housing equation. RedLine has been in a unique position to help the city with administering the Safe Occupancy and Safe Creative Space Fund and how we can make sure that artists who are living in the city of Denver are living in safe spaces. That is a conversation that Denver is on the leading edge on. What I can in this next year work towards is to help bring greater national visibility to that program so that we can participate in the modeling of supporting artists.

"The other angle is continuing to kind of find ways to show up in a cross-sector sort of way when it comes to how artists can participate in larger conversations when it comes to the challenges and needs of the city. I think it's something that the arts can do pretty seamlessly, they just need to be given the opportunity to do so."

-- As told to Ashley Dean

Wanda James, CEO of cannabis dispensary Simply Pure and member of Gov. Hickenlooper's marijuana task force

"I would like to see Denver stop being so uptight about cannabis and cannabis businesses. I would like to see Denver finally embrace all of the positives that cannabis has brought to this city over the last 10 years.

"I would like to see Denver embrace social consumption, I would like to see Denver embrace more openness regarding the business of cannabis."

-- As told to Allan Tellis

Kate Roberts, COO of EIS Solutions

Katelyn Roberts. Who's Next: Politics. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"I think most Coloradans are anxious to see what changes are to come with the new Polis administration. Voters want to move the state forward, but they also want collaboration and not party-line rules. My hope for Denver and Colorado is a 2019 with thoughtful, collaborative dialogue when tackling tough issues. For me -- a year where I continue to find personal balance, too!"

Kate Roberts is a member of Denverite's Who's Next: Politics class of 2018.

Barry Burch, advisor to Mayor Hancock

Barry Burch, center, at Denverite's "Who's Next: Politics" gala at the ART Hotel, June 7, 2018. (Alyson McClaran for Denverite)
Alyson McClaran

"I hope Denver remains beautiful and continues to serve as an example for what inclusive, innovative, caring cities can be when it's residents are involved, engaged and committed to making our city a safe and welcoming place for everyone."

Barry Burch is a member of Denverite's Who's Next: Politics class of 2018.

David Ehrlich, executive director of the Denver Theater District

Ehrlich, who runs the Denver Theater District and helped make Grandoozy a success, recently became president of the Villa Park Neighborhood Association.

"I have a lot of frustrations about various political systems in our society and instead of complaining about it, I'm going to try to get more involved and actively do something about it. ... I love Denver and I think that we have to handle our growth better. Getting out into the various neighborhoods [while working on Grandoozy] -- we're all dealing with the same issues. I refuse to believe it's too late. I feel like we're feeling threatened, we're losing the Denver we love. And, like I said, instead of complaining about it, I'm gonna do something."

-- As told to Ashley Dean

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