District 8 Denver City Council race: Who’s running and what you need to know about the district

District 8’s incumbent councilmember Christopher Herndon, is term-limited. Five candidates are running for the open seat.
8 min. read
Grassy yards in Northeast Park Hill. Aug. 30, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Denver's District 8 covers much of northeast Denver, which includes East Colfax, Montbello, Park Hill and Central Park (previously Stapleton).

A majority of East Colfax was added to District 8 last year during redistricting after years of it being tied Hilltop, Montclair and Lowry -- more affluent neighborhoods that had different concerns than one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.

City Council District 8.
Data Source: Denver Elections Division
Data Source: Denver Elections Di

The Montbello areas in District 8 are those west of Peoria St., Andrew Dr. and Durham Ct. Councilmember Stacie Gilmore, running unopposed for her District 11 seat, wanted to move the boundaries of the far northeast district to encompass all of Montbello but was unsuccessful because doing so would have made for a district with too many people.

On official City and County of Denver maps, Park Hill is split into 3 neighborhoods: Northeast Park Hill, North Park Hill, and South Park Hill.

Who's running?

District 8 residents have five choices for Council. Here's who's running, in the order you'll see them on the ballot:

Christian Steward

Christian Steward is big on community engagement and has worked with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and Denver's Community Active Living Coalition with that in mind. He is originally from the Whittier neighborhood but now lives in East Colfax. Steward believes it is important to look at property tax and rental price caps as well as making sure affordable units and temporary housing options are close to transportation options.

"The most important part of me being successful in this campaign is building coalitions within the community so they can enlighten me on policy priorities they want," Steward said.

"Some of these community-based organizations are in the trenches and on the ground and I want to be able to give them some voices and platforms."

Tyler Drum

Tyler Drum was captain for the Democratic Party of Denver for House District 7. He currently works for the Jewish Community Center in Denver and has previously worked as a fundraiser for the Children's Hospital Colorado Foundation. He has lived in Montbello for six years. Drum is concerned about housing and transportation in the district and sees a need for cheaper transit options. He is interested in expanding the Montbello Connector program, which provides free on-demand rides using a fleet of three vehicles.

"I feel like previous city council members have not been as interested in some of the more disadvantaged neighborhoods in my district, including Park Hill, Montbello and East Colfax," Drum said. "I'm looking for a city council member that's more responsive to all of the neighborhoods and not just Central Park. Who's really out in the community, listening to people's concerns and is more responsive to the needs of all of our neighbors, not just the louder ones. That's why I'm running."

Leslie Twarogowski

Leslie Twarogowski is the executive director of the Federal Boulevard Business Improvement District and serves on the Greater Park Hill Community board. She is a fifth generation Denverite and has lived in northeast Denver for about 22 years. Twarogowski's main concerns are transportation and housing and she is interested in creating a historic cultural district in Park Hill to create design limitations in order to keep affordable homes affordable. She was originally running for an At-Large council seat before switching to the District 8 City Council race.

"As I go around town and I'm talking to people about issues, my mind still goes back to this area where I've lived for decades," Twarogowski said. "While I want to lead efforts with citywide impact, I think I can do that from this seat in District 8. This is deeply where my heart is and and this is where I think I can make a larger impact because I know this area best."

Shontel Lewis

Shontel Lewis currently works for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and has previously served on the Regional Transportation District's Board of Directors from 2019 to 2022. She is a Denver Public Schools alum and was involved doing community engagement work for DPS. Her main concerns are a combination of transportation, housing, health and education policy. Lewis wants to grow tenant protections, eliminate parking minimums, and convert more commercial properties to residential uses.

"For Council, it's an opportunity to really bring all of the experiences that I've had, both professional and personal, that experience and that expertise, to Council, to be able to make District 8 one of the healthiest districts in the city," she said.

Brad Revare

Brad Revare is currently a director at Colorado Succeeds, a non-profit coalition of business leaders that advocate for education improvements. He is a Central Park resident and his main focus is centered on equitably investing in neighborhoods. He has previously served on the Central Park United Neighbors Board of Directors and the Impact East Colfax Steering Committee, an advisory committee put together to help guide development and avoid gentrification on Colfax.

"I had the sense that the city wasn't working for a lot of people in District 8 and they felt like their voices weren't being heard," Revare said. "I think everybody, regardless of your background or your socioeconomic status, should have the opportunity to thrive. One of the most important pieces of work that's going to come with a new mayor and a new city council in 2023 is how do we advance equity so that so many different life outcomes are not dependent on your background or your zip code."

Rita Lewis (Write-in)

Rita Lewis is an immigration attorney and has lived in Park Hill on and off for most of her life. Previously, Lewis was the former president of the Denver Branch of the NAACP, a former board member of the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center and the former commissioner of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. She wants to focus on improving transportation, providing more services to the smaller neighborhoods and tackling the issue of affordable housing to increase minority businesses and residents in the district.

"I want to bring some common-sense decision making to city council. People might say we're doing that already but I just don't see it. I think I have some lofty goals but I don't think those lofty goals are unattainable. I'm also passionate about what happens in my community. I've lived in District 8 for a long time and Park Hill is the historic neighborhood in District 8. So, when it comes to any planning or improvements I would definitely like to see more done in Park Hill. That goes for East Colfax and Montbello."

You can click this chart to see an interactive version.

What's going on in the district?

Park Hill golf course

One of district 8's most notable challenges involves the future of the Park Hill golf course.

The land, which was purchased by Westside Investment Partners for $24 million in 2019, is in contention for major redevelopment.

Advocates have pushed back on the area's development plan, some of which include people that are part of a historically Black community that have experienced a sleuth of racist housing policies and disinvestment from businesses.

Those in favor of Westside's plan support the possibility of creating affordable housing, guaranteed park space and bringing businesses to a neighborhood that has suffered from underdevelopment over the years.

Food access

Part of the district has a history of being a food desert, which is when at least 500 people, or 33% of the area population, live more than one mile away from a supermarket or large grocery store.

Earlier this year, Natural Grocers opened in the Central Park neighborhood, an area that the company had been looking into for about 10 years. And Montbello's long-awaited FreshLo Hub finally broke ground in early March. It will bring a grocery store, housing and more amenities to area residents.

Crime and violence

The District has historically dealt with issues on violent crime. Data maintained by the Denver Police Department indicated that violent crime had gone up between 2021 and 2022 in neighborhoods such as Northeast Park Hill, Central Park, and Montbello. Crime remained steady in East Colfax and decreased in North and South Park Hill during the same time period.

On two separate occasions within the past year, victims of violent crime have involved children under the age of 18.

Need more help voting? Check out the rest of our voter guide here.

Editor's note: This article has been update to include write-in candidate Rita Lewis, whose name will not appear on the ballot.

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