Denver Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca withdraws request to hire her wife

In a move she hopes boosts transparency, CdeBaca will seek to have Kerrie Joy Landell work on her staff as a volunteer.
2 min. read
Candi CdeBaca (center) poses for a portrait with her partner, Kerrie Joy and her mother, Annette Johnson, as she celebrates a lead over incumbent Albus Brooks on Election night, June 4, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca won't seek to pay her wife for the thousands of hours of work she's already done on her staff, or the thousands of hours of work she'll likely do in the future.

CdeBaca asked the Denver Board of Ethics last week for permission to hire Kerrie Joy Landell onto her staff. She changed her mind, the north Denver council member announced in a Facebook post Monday night. She framed the change of heart as evidence that "I will listen to you, even when we disagree, in order to create a democracy that we can have confidence in."

Denver's ethics code recommends against elected officials hiring family members to discourage favoritism. CdeBaca originally sought a waiver under certain conditions, including one that would require her chief of staff to supervise Landell.

CdeBaca said she's willing to introduce legislation that clarifies how the City Council and mayor hire staffers.

"Council has very different parameters for hiring than the City does, and I would like to be instrumental in teaching the community the difference, and perhaps creating processes we can all be proud of," she wrote.

Hiring Landell on a volunteer basis will still require a waiver from the ethics body.

"To be clear, Kerrie will remain a key presence serving the community and helping to repair the harm that has been done as a result of the neglect and pillaging of our historic communities," CdeBaca said in her statement. "She will also work in collaboration with my office in her own capacity by continuing to focus on placemaking, community healing and wellness, to repair the trauma resulting from gentrification, displacement, homelessness and incarceration."

This article was updated to change all references of "partner" to "wife." CdeBaca and Landell consider themselves married by common law.

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