Denver’s Tyler Drum wants to be a voice for all neighborhoods in District 8 through council run

Drum will face Brad Revare, Christian Steward, Leslie Twarogowski, Shontel Lewis and write-in Rita Lewis. for the empty northeast Denver seat.
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District 8 candidate Tyler Drum stands in the Jewish Community Center in Washington Virginia Vale, where he works. Feb. 7, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

For Tyler Drum, running for the empty District 8 City Council seat is about giving a voice to all the neighborhoods in his district.

Drum said his main goal for the Northeast Denver district is to be present in every neighborhood, not just the loudest one.

"I feel like previous city council members have not been as interested in some of the more disadvantaged neighborhoods in my district, including Park Hill, Montbello and East Colfax," Drum said. "I'm looking for a city council member that's more responsive to all of the neighborhoods and not just Central Park. Who's really out in the community, listening to people's concerns and is more responsive to the needs of all of our neighbors, not just the louder ones. That's why I'm running."

Prior to his run for city council, Drum was captain for the Democratic Party of Denver for House District 7. He previously worked as a fundraiser for the Children's Hospital Colorado Foundation and currently works for the Jewish Community Center in Denver.

Drum has lived in the Montbello neighborhood for six years and he said his time there has shaped his candidacy views, the most important being housing and all types of housing.

District 8 candidate Tyler Drum stands in the Jewish Community Center in Washington Virginia Vale, where he works. Feb. 7, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

For one, Drum said accessory dwelling units should be accessible to all neighborhoods through rezoning and an affordability program. He added that with Denver's expensive housing market, the use of ADUs adds density, improves property values and can be rented at a cheaper cost or just used as extra space for family members, which is particularly important to Drum.

He said his push for ADUs comes from a need. His mother-in-law recently moved to Denver as a refugee from Ukraine. He said if ADUs were allowed in his neighborhood and if they were financially attainable, the extra space would be helpful for his family and others in the area.

Also related to housing, Drum said Denver should have a housing-first mentality when it comes to helping those experiencing homelessness. He added that providing a stable living environment makes it easier to find a job, get mental health treatment and it eliminates the trauma of possibly being separated from loved ones, pets or important documents.

Another change Drum wishes to implement is more city-led information classes on renter's rights and affordable housing programs.

Drum said he purchased his home through an affordable housing program and he could see that the hassles he went through would deter others from following through with the program, whether that be through a lack of understanding or time.

District 8 candidate Tyler Drum stands in the Jewish Community Center in Washington Virginia Vale, where he works. Feb. 7, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The educational programs are another way to listen to community members but that only happens if the community members can be involved, Drum said.

"We need to help people cut through the red tape so that they're actually able to access (these programs) and it's not just for those in the know-how," Drum said. "I want people to benefit but there's a lot of bureaucracy involved. We need more programs that educate people... and when we have these meetings they need to go far enough...virtual and in-person...they need to provide childcare...they need to be at various times."

Another important issue for Drum is transportation.

Drum said the cost of RTD and the lack of access are big issues in District 8, particularly in Montbello. Drum said the free rides RTD offered in August show a need for cheaper transit options. But Drum did applaud the city's remedy for a lack of access through the Montbello Connector, which provides free on-demand rides using a tiny fleet of just three vehicles. Drum said the program should be expanded to cover evening hours and weekends and it should also be an option for Denverites city-wide, a sentiment the Denver Office of Transportation and Infrastructure also shares.

"It really helps with that 'last mile,' that gap in services," Drum said.

Besides housing and transportation, Drum said he'd like to see the city focus more on its environmental needs. He's in support of the city's goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2030. He's also in support of the "Waste No More" ballot initiative, which would require all businesses such as housing complexes, restaurants, hospitals and hotels to provide compost and recycling pickup services.

This minivan is one of a handful of vehicles that make up Montbello Connector, a free city-funded transit service for that neighborhood. City leaders plan to start a similar service in Globeville, Elyria and Swansea soon.
Courtesy of DOTI

Drum said he's also in support of keeping the Park Hill Golf Course as open space. He noted that Park Hill is a food desert similar to Montbello and said the neighborhood could work on getting a grocer like Montbello through its FreshLo project which, when completed, will include a grocery store and affordable housing.

Drum said his support of the Park Hill Golf Course comes from his initial reason for running for council -- the need for elected officials to listen to residents.

"I want to be a city council person that represents everyone, not just those who can afford to be heard," Drum said. "I want to hear all of your ideas. I want to fight for the elderly, the environment, the disabled, the immigrants, the poor, our pets and everyone else who hasn't had their voice heard by city council in the past."

The District 8 council seat will be empty come April 2023, as current Councilmember Chris Herndon terms out. Drum faces Brad Revare, Christian Steward, Leslie Twarogowski, Shontel Lewis and write-in Rita Lewis.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the finalized candidate list that will appear on the 2023 municipal election ballot.

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