Mayor Michael Hancock drew on his experience growing up a poor Denver native to rev up his supporters during a kickoff event at the Hiawatha Davis rec center, which the mayor said was his childhood hangout, on Wednesday.
“We struggled to find stable, decent housing.” Hancock said, according to his prepared remarks. “We moved from Park Hill, to Montbello, back to Park Hill, then to Whittier and Five Points when we finally secured public housing. Only then did we find stability, peace of mind and begin to establish roots in a community and school.”
The story Hancock told a crowd of hundreds framed the city’s top elected official as someone who knows poverty firsthand, perhaps lending him some credibility to later talk about caring for the people who’ve been left behind by Denver’s economic success.
Hancock has overseen seven and a half years of potent population and job growth, and record investments from the public and private sectors. He says his administration oversaw the creation of 100,000 new jobs, 8,100 new companies, 12 direct international flights and seemingly endless quality-of-life rankings in national publications that put Denver on top.
But that success has been coupled with displacement spawned from a housing shortage and affordable housing policies that his administration implemented well after the boom times set in.
“A great city takes care of her people,” he said. “But not all people feel like the prosperity of Denver has benefited them.”
Hancock put “creating an equitable city” front and center on his platform.
The mayor didn’t come out and say he would raise wages, but he did say the administration would be “expanding our commitment to increasing wages” if reelected. The city will improve job training and placement, he said, and provide “more and bolder support” for small businesses, especially ones owned by women and minorities.
Making Denver “the most welcoming city” was his second pledge. Here, they mayor touched on reforming the criminal justice system, expanding mental health services, and building more shelters and transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness.
Hancock’s third broad goal is “delivering a strong, progressive and modern city.” That means more parks, more diverse and thriving neighborhoods, and a transportation system that works for everyone, not just drivers. It also means meeting Denver’s climate goals, he said.
This article was updated to correct the number of companies created.