Trinidad “Trini” Rodriguez has entered Denver’s mayoral race

He defines himself as a “city builder” with deep personal experience with the biggest issues the city faces.
4 min. read
Mayoral candidate Trinidad “Trini” Rodriguez stands in the courtyard of Santa Fe Drive’s 910 Arts complex. Nov. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Trinidad "Trini" Rodriguez filed paperwork to join the crowded race to be Denver's next mayor.

Rodriguez defines himself as a city builder who was born and raised in West Denver by a single mother.

"It was a place rich in love, though money was tight," he told Denverite ahead of the announcement.

As a child, he lived in Denver Authority Housing and went on to serve as a commissioner for the organization.

Today, he's struck by how lifestyles have changed for the haves, but living in poverty looks pretty much the same for the have-nots.

Rodriguez has had a 23-year career in financing, funding projects including schools, health clinics and affordable housing communities. He has served as senior vice president for both George K. Baum & Company and D.A. Davidson & Co.

"When you build a city, you need a vision for what it will feel like when it's finished," Rodriguez said.

For him, that process starts with envisioning how people should experience the place where they live.

"My vision for the city we build is one where every child can achieve their version of success regardless of the neighborhood they're born in," he said. "whether it's the West Side with a single mom like me or in a place with more advantages and go on to become city builders alongside so many others who will join this mission."

Rodriguez was the commissioner of the Denver Housing Authority under three mayors. And he has worked with civic groups like the Downtown Denver Partnership. He served as a policy advisor for both Colorado's Department of Natural Resources and the Governor's Policy Office and the Office of Energy Conservation.

He views city building not as a short-term strategy but a long-term process that connects each administration. That process is not always easy.

"You stumble," he said. "You have tough times. But the question is, are they going to stop you or are you going to keep moving forward and keep moving forward with better knowledge about how to make your city better?"

Growing up, he saw the effects of violence on a community and family.

"When I was 9 years old, my house was invaded and my mom was assaulted," he said. "And I witnessed that in complete helplessness. And the police arrived after that. And they were heroes to me. They helped me sleep that night, because the thing I was most scared about was 'How am I going to sleep tonight? How's my mom going to sleep tonight? How are we going to feel safe.

"I personally value the critical role that policing plays in our community," he said.

But the conversation around policing isn't just about heroics, for Rodriguez. He's also acutely aware that if he goes outside to move his car a short distance, he always has his driver's license.

"As a Latino, getting pulled over, especially at night, which is usually when I'm moving my car, there's a degree of risk," he said. "And we have evidence about that. We see it on TV. We read about it in the newspaper. I can't deny it. And I'm not going to shut off that self-protection mechanism. I shouldn't. But these are just the harsh realities that we have to use to take care of ourselves."

He believes the solution to crime is hiring more police officers, making the job better and ensuring they are doing the job that's appropriate to expect of them. He also wants to create equity in policing, to ensure "the right types of policing services are brought to the right places."

Mayoral candidate Trinidad "Trini" Rodriguez stands in the courtyard of Santa Fe Drive's 910 Arts complex. Nov. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Why enter such a crowded field?

For Rodriguez, the reason is simple: He has diverse experience, with "management and financial acumen," working with nonprofits addressing the city's most pressing problems, from affordability and homelessness to creating economic opportunity."

That work isn't just informed by good intentions.

Mayoral candidate Trini Rodriguez stands in the courtyard of Santa Fe Drive's 910 Arts complex. Nov. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

"I also have that unique perspective of having been on the other side of those programs and services as a beneficiary, as someone who was supported," he said. "For city builder. I don't think you can have kind of a better combination.

"And I don't know if anyone else is gonna be able to offer that," he continued. "I frankly don't know, but I'm gonna offer it myself. And we'll see if that resonates with people in Denver."

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