Jeff Walker is running for an at-large seat to be Denver City Council’s “infrastructure guy”
He’s running for a seat in the wide-open race against nine others.
Jeff Walker sees City Council as a team; as he says, it should have the multi-talented dynamic of the “Fast and Furious” characters. In Walker’s eyes, you want people with a range of backgrounds — law, labor, finance, contracts, etc. With his background in public administration and urban planning, he wants to be Council’s “infrastructure guy.”
Walker grew up in Akron, Ohio, before moving to Minneapolis and then Cincinnati. Looking for somewhere more progressive, he came to Denver in 1999.
Walker has served on a range of boards, including the RTD Board of Directors, the Denver Planning Board and the Reimagining Policing Task Force. He currently works for Xcel Energy in land rights and property acquisition.
He is running for City Council at-large. It’s a crowded, wide-open race, with councilmembers Robin Kniech and Debbie Ortega term-limited, and Ortega running for mayor. He’s running against Will Chan, Dominic Diaz, Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, Tim Hoffman, Travis Leiker, Sarah Parady, Penfield Tate III, Marty Zimmerman and write-in candidate Janelle Jenkins.
His top five issues are crime, housing, homelessness, traffic and the environment.
On housing, Walker wants to help people winterize their windows, lower energy costs and improve affordability. But he’s not sure Denver can ever fully address the housing shortage.
Walker’s website says he supports upzoning, “strengthening the permitting and inspection processes” and more support services for people on the streets — though he doesn’t elaborate on specifics.
But in an interview, Walker seemed skeptical about government intervention into housing, and about the city’s ability to build fast enough to meet demand.
“I don’t know if we can build enough houses,” he said. “It’s expensive to live here. Cities with opportunity will be expensive… What we can do, let’s get our utility costs down.”
Walker also suggested that perhaps more Denver residents could double up and live together. He pointed to himself and his ex-wife, who now live apart, but lived together for a while after getting divorced.
Walker said he supports a lot of Democratic political views, like the right to abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control and measures to prevent climate change. But he registered as an independent a few years ago, in part to better connect with conservative friends, and in part because he doesn’t think the government should meddle in things like the housing market.
“The last thing I want is to see the government taking care of people when they can take care of themselves,” he said. “You introduce money somewhere, it’s going to restrict the flow of money somewhere. It’s going to pop up, bad effects are going to pop up other places.”
On public safety, Walker said he’s in favor of reform and reducing interactions between police and people in mental health crisis.
Walker added that he’s been stopped twice since living in Denver for fitting a description, but that his perspective on policing feels different than some of his friends who have had more violent interactions with police, because he sees his interaction as minimal.
He said he thinks there needs to be some better form of enforcement, but he’s not sure exactly what.
“Somebody’s going to have to enforce some type of standard and some type of education needs to take place,” he said. “That can be incarceration, that can be restorative justice, that can be, ‘let it slide this time’… But there’s gonna have to be some standard, and we enforce standards.”
Walker also wants to improve transportation by lowering the speed limit, growing bike infrastructure and improving pedestrian and cyclist safety at major intersections.
Walker thinks arterial and collector streets should have a maximum speed limit of 25 miles per hour. When it comes to the environment, Walker wants to promote greener transportation, grow Denver’s tree canopy in marginalized neighborhoods, raise awareness of composting and increase weatherization programs.
Another main goal in Walker’s campaign is to engage with the Denver community. “The reason I’m running for City Council… is I enjoy the public engagement, and I wish I could do more of it,” he said.