Denver’s 2020 ballot measures: The one about letting city council hire outside help without the mayor’s blessing

It’s 2C, which was inspired by a controversial contract to renovate DIA and by allegations of sexual harassment against Mayor Michael Hancock.
2 min. read
Denver City Council, Jan. 6, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

At-large City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega pitched the idea to allow council to hire consultants without the mayor's permission after two turbulent events that originated inside Mayor Michael Hancock's administration: a botched 34-year, $650 million contract to renovate Denver International Airport and sexually suggestive text messages Hancock sent to a member of his security detail in 2012.

Some members of Denver City Council, which represent the legislative branch, believe the Hancock administration, which represents the executive branch, blocked them from hiring outside professionals who could have helped them navigate both problems. Legal and financial experts could have helped them understand the doomed, 1,500-page contract before approving it, and whether the body could've investigated the mayor's text messages, Ortega has said. But the city's constitution is silent on whether the council has that power.

What the ballot question says: Shall the Charter of the City and County of Denver be amended to give City Council the authority to procure for professional services without executive branch approval?

What it means: If you bubble in "yes," you're voting to explicitly empower city council to hire outside experts using its annual budget -- without approval from the executive branch. If you bubble in "no," you're voting to keep the city charter silent on this specific issue.

Who supports it: Councilwoman Ortega. The city council passed the question onto voters by a tally of 12 to 0 with Ortega absent.

Who's against it: There is no organized opposition to this charter change. Nobody filed comments opposition to the change with the city's election division, either. Mayor Hancock said he is neutral.

Check out our comprehensive voting guide here. Happy voting!

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