Former state senator Penfield Tate III announces at-large council run

Tate ran for mayor in 2003 and 2019, placing fourth both times. Now, he’s running for City Council at-large.

Penfield Tate speaks during the Denver Post's mayoral candidate forum at FIELDHOUSE on Federal Boulevard, April 1, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Penfield Tate speaks during the Denver Post's mayoral candidate forum at FIELDHOUSE on Federal Boulevard, April 1, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Former state senator and attorney Penfield Tate III is running for Denver City Council at-large. Tate previously ran for Denver mayor in 2003 and 2019, most recently placing fourth with around 15% of the vote.

“It’s all driven by a desire to positively impact the quality of life in Denver,” Tate said when asked about the switch from running for mayor to running for council. His top priority is affordability.

“Livability of the city is first and foremost,” he said. “Denver is not as affordable as it once was when I was a kid growing up in the state.”

He joins eight others in the race for two at-large seats that are wide open, with incumbent Councilwomen Debbie Ortega and Robin Kniech being term-limited.

Tate pointed to affordability, homelessness and safety as key issues he wants to tackle.

“We’ve got as you’ve seen a huge homelessness problem that is tied to the affordable housing piece,” he said. “We’ve got to deal with the unhoused in a humane and safe way, but also in a way that protects neighborhoods, and homeowners and business owners.”

Tate said he specifically wants to see improvements downtown. Recently, city, state and federal officials announced plans to work together to bring a stronger approach to crime downtown.

“We’ve got to address the crime issue, people don’t feel safe going downtown now,” he said. “A vibrant downtown has historically been what separates Denver from a lot of other communities in this region and in the state.”

Tate also emphasized the importance of recreational and open space in Denver. Recently, he has been involved in community advocacy to preserve open space at the Park Hill Golf Course, trying block a developer’s plan to bring a massive mixed-use project to the site. He said it’s an example of the city not respecting the wishes of residents.

In 2019, Tate campaigned on restraining poorly planned growth and protecting local businesses and affordable housing in the process. He also said he wanted to work with private non-profits to address homelessness.

Tate grew up in the area and has a long legacy in politics. His father was the first Black mayor of Boulder.

As for his decision to run for the at-large seat, Tate pointed to his experience serving on a range of community boards across the city, including the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the board of nonprofit Ability Connection Colorado, among others.

“I liked the idea of being a councilperson with a citywide perspective because I really think the issues in the city are all interconnected,” he said.

Previously, Tate represented District 8 in the Colorado House from 1996 to 2000, and District 33 in the State Senate from 2000 to 2003, before running for mayor in 2003 and 2019.

Tate said Watching his father’s work in Boulder helped his decision to go into politics. “I got to see his impact on a city,” he said.

Looking locally, Tate said he thinks about how Denver has changed, adding that “With gentrification and hyper-development, we’re losing that sense and feel of our community, and we need to work hard and be intentional about keeping that feel.”

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