District 10 candidate Noah Kaplan wants to bring an educator’s perspective to City Council

He says it’s the Fair Elections Fund that got him in the race for District 10.
4 min. read
District 10 candidate Noah Kaplan stands in front of the City and County Building. Feb. 9, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Noah Kaplan went from being a student at East High competing in speech and debate to being the teacher who runs the club. As a kid, he said the club gave him confidence and showed how to solve problems. As a teacher, it's how he said he's getting to know families and learning about the issues they and the community around District 10 face.

This experience is what's prompted him to run to represent the district at City Council, where he faces incumbent Councilmember Chris Hinds, along with Shannon Hoffman, Matthew Watkajtys, Margie Morris and Janelle Jenkins.

For Kaplan, affordability is personal.

He grew up in Denver as the child of public defenders. Kaplan attended Denver Public Schools and works at his old high school.

"I look up and I notice, after seven years working as an educator, I was no closer to owning a home in the city that I've lived my entire life," he said. "I was no closer to feeling financially stable, building a family, and I was noticing teachers leaving the profession because of those challenges."

Kaplan took a second job as a freelance journalist, covering criminal justice and other city issues for Westword, and volunteering to help people experiencing homelessness. He said it's helped him understand how local government affects people and feels like there's a disconnect between policy and people's experiences.

Kaplan's listed five top priorities: Education, housing, homelessness, public safety and climate.

Education is where a lot of Kaplan's first hand experience comes from. He wants to see more afterschool programming for kids, along with more internship and vocational training opportunities for youth in the city.

On housing, he wants to see public-private partnerships that would develop defunct lots into housing, more motel purchases and conversions of downtown office space into housing. Kaplan also wants Denver to focus on assistance for city workers. He'd also like to see programs set up to help teachers become homeowners in the neighborhoods where they work.

"I want to preserve the charm and character of our neighborhoods, but we do need to add some very, very smart increased density in places next to multimodal transportation," he said.

Kaplan called Denver's homeless encampment sweeps "shortsighted." He thinks the city can coordinate better between police and case managers, and on his website, calls for "codifying rental assistance."

When it comes to public safety, Kaplan says Denver needs to grow its mental health services, and improve trust between law enforcement and communities.

"That means making sure the community feels like there's transparency and accountability when harm is done by law enforcement," he said. "But it also means supporting law enforcement with the tools, the training and the local community recruitment that will make those departments strong."

And on climate, Kaplan's a fan of the new Pay as You Throw program and wants the city to focus even more on waste diversion. He supports increasing the very popular e-bike rebates and additional efficiency standards for new development.

As the race for Council seats continues through the spring, Denverites will be keeping an eye on how the first ever Fair Elections Fund program goes. For Kaplan, the impact is clear.

"That was what allowed me this opportunity," Kaplan said, referring to the new program that matches small, local donations at a nine-to-one rate with city funds. It's meant to help smaller candidates go up against those with larger war chests.

"In many ways the political world here in the city and the country is largely inaccessible to people who don't have big financial backings or big connections," he said. "I was really excited about the opportunity to run as a Fair Election Fund candidate, which gave me the opportunity to be competitive in a local race where I otherwise wouldn't have had that chance."

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