“The city is broken”: former boxer Aurelio Martinez is taking a swing at fixing Denver by running for mayor

He wants neighborhoods and residents to have more sway with the city.
3 min. read
Aurelio Martinez participates in a mayoral candidate forum at the former Park Hill Golf Course. Nov. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Mayoral candidate Aurelio Martinez believes he has identified one thing all residents can agree on: "The city is broken."

The former boxer, boxing coach and CEO of the publication Inside Boxing is ready to take a swing at all that he sees isn't working in the city.

He's joined a crowded field of candidates running for the most powerful position in the city -- 19 as of last counting.

"It's broken, and it's in dire need of repair," he said. "It's been going in the wrong direction for a very long time, and unless we get an administration in place to run this city and change the direction so that we put residents and neighborhood organizations back as priorities in the system, then we're just going to self-destruct. And we're not going to let that happen."

Martinez, who grew up in Cole and Five Points, is a retired IT man.

He's been involved in neighborhood organizing and believes the city has ignored registered neighborhood organizations for too long, foisting agendas and new developments on communities.

"The neighborhood organizations and citizens of the city have to be part of any development, anything that's going on in the in your neighborhood, anything that's going to affect your neighborhood," he said. "Because trust me, when it goes to city planning, it passes like butter. When it goes to City Council, it passes. We need to stop that. We need to better our neighborhoods. Your neighborhood has to be your safe haven."

Martinez wants to see more housing that is attainable for minimum-wage and low-income workers.

"I don't particularly like that word 'affordable,' because it's used too much by the administration," he said. "It's used too much by politicians. It's just overly used. The word 'affordable' I dislike because every house in the city is affordable to somebody."

He wants the city to spend less energy creating affordable housing for the missing middle and more energy dedicated to the people who work at Wal-Mart, gas stations and grocery stores.

While he is critical of the city's approach to development, he does not see himself as an anti-development candidate.

He wants neighborhood organizations to have more say in projects being planned in their communities.

"I welcome development with open arms, but there's a place for every development going on," he said. "When that development infringes with neighborhoods and communities, then it shouldn't be allowed."

Martinez wants to see more youth programs at recreation centers.

"What are the youth supposed to do?" he said. "They need to grow up, they need to have something to do, and if we're not providing it, we're lost. And that's going to change."

Ultimately, as he sees it, everyday people should set the agenda through the mayor's office, and he pledges to be the candidate who will listen and respond.

He also wants to recruit "the best people" to work for the city, and he doesn't believe the best people always have a perfect résumé on paper. Instead, they know how to listen to the community.

"My focus is to listen to the people of this city," he said, "so they can decide what's best for them."

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