A very Denverite mayoral questionnaire: Chris Hansen
We asked candidates about the Park Hill Golf Course conservation land easement, Denver’s future, sweeps and more.
As part of our 2023 voter guide, we asked each mayoral candidate on the ballot to fill out a questionnaire. You can read short biographies of each candidate and find their questionnaires here.
Please answer the following questions with a yes or no.
Should the conservation land easement on Park Hill Golf Course be lifted? Yes
Assume the police force is fully staffed, should Denver hire more police officers? Yes
On that note, would reducing the police budget to fund diversion programs and other potentially crime reducing initiatives ever be an option for your administration? No
Should Denver plow streets after snow storms more often even if it means over budgeting for it? Yes
There’s a bill at the legislature that would allow a version of local rent control. If it became law, should Denver enact rent control measures? No
Should Denver institute mandatory holds on people interacting with law enforcement who are in mental health or addiction crises? Yes
If state law allowed them, should Denver have supervised drug use sites? No
Is the mayor’s office too powerful? No
Does Denver need more bike lanes? Yes
Does Denver need more parking lots? No
Feel free to elaborate on these questions.
What are the biggest threats Denver faces in the next 30 years, and what will you do about them given that you could be mayor for 12 years?
As Mayor, my top priority will be public safety. Denverites and visitors deserve to feel safe in our neighborhoods, parks, and streets and I will commit to rebuilding and improving our Public Safety Department. We will invest in training, hiring, and retaining officers, as well as funding the STAR program so that co-responders can address issues related to mental health and substance use, which will allow our police to perform their core functions: preventing, responding to, and solving crimes. A safer Denver is possible with targeted gun crime prevention, increased patrol of hot-spots, and robust accountability.
What do you admire about Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration? What would you improve on?
I admire Michael Hancock’s reinvestment in some of the city’s key assets like the airport, the National Western Stock Show, and the Convention Center.
What steps would your administration take to make Denver more affordable?
The one number driver of cost here is the high cost of housing, we need to respond to this moment by adding significantly more housing supply. As Mayor, I plan to add high-density housing on key corridors like Colfax. My vision for Denver focuses on adding population density in areas with high-quality public transit that is electrified.
Sweeps or no sweeps? You can add some nuance here, but you must answer “I would continue the sweeps” or “I would end the sweeps.”
I will not allow open camping on our streets and plan to enforce the camping ban. That said, the status quo is not working. It is clear that Denver needs a new leader to make real progress on addressing homelessness and ensuring our streets, sidewalks and public areas are open for all Denverites to utilize. As Mayor, I will reevaluate Denver’s failing approach to homelessness, reimagine systems to disrupt the cycles perpetuating the problem, and reinforce the existing laws and regulations to ensure that everyone in Denver, housed or unhoused, stays safe. A key part of my homelessness plan is to audit existing programs because we are spending enormous amounts of money without getting results we all deserve.
Permitting wait times in Denver have increased significantly, sometimes slowing down how fast housing can be built. What do you think is the problem and how would you fix that?
As Mayor, I would hire additional permit review staff on a contract basis in order to address the egregious backlog that is stifling our city’s growth, making housing more expensive, and aggravating business owners who want to build in Denver and contribute to making Denver the thriving city it can be. There is no excuse for the permitting backlog and it would be my goal on day one as Mayor to take this issue on and show meaningful progress on it. We can fix this and it would be a high priority for me as Mayor to do so. I have extensive private sector experience in improving operations and this is the exact type of problem I know I can solve as Mayor.
Under my administration, we would cap the number of reviews CPD is allowed to make. Currently, a site development plan review is averaging five review cycles that are each between one and three months. That means the project team must make corrections and resubmit the project for re-review five times before being cleared to move onto the next step. We would cap the maximum number of reviews at three, after which an all-hands conference would take place to get the project across the finish line.
As Mayor, I would support preferential permitting for affordable housing projects and I would have a special team set up within the department that makes sure we are fast-tracking projects that are funded with federal and state funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.
At the legislature, I have been a leader in digitization of government services, and I would continue that as the next Mayor. For simple, small projects that require permits, I would look for opportunities to digitize the permitting process.
What are your thoughts on converting downtown empty office spaces into residences?
We definitely need to convert empty office spaces into residences. It is a great option for Denver because there are significant amounts of class B office spaces that, if converted, would result in roughly 1,500 additional residential units downtown. The impact of converting office spaces into residences coupled with other large projects that are currently in progress will add badly needed units and population density to our downtown core. I am excited to see the impact of the Elitch Gardens redevelopment, among other projects that are currently underway downtown that will add population density.
Black-owned businesses like Coffee at the Point and Wah Gwaan Brewing Company have been shutting down. Should the city intervene to preserve Black entrepreneurship, and if so, how?
Yes, I believe the city has a role to play in making sure Denver is a welcoming place for minority business owners. I would like to focus on city grant programs that support minority owned businesses around the city to make sure we maintain these keystone parts of our communities.
How do you feel about land acknowledgements?
Land acknowledgements are important and I support using them as a powerful reminder of our history and as a reminder that we are all stewards of our land, air, and water. I am glad to see this practice growing outside of its traditional settings.
What are your thoughts on a flavored tobacco ban?
If we are serious about reducing teen vaping, we need to stop the sale of flavored tobacco products. This issue has been studied and we know that flavored tobacco products get kids hooked. I support youth substance use prevention, including stopping the sale of flavored tobacco products that are marketed to kids.
Describe specifically how your office will demonstrate transparency?
I have been a governmental transparency champion throughout my seven years in the state legislature and I will continue that record as Mayor. I’m carrying the Colorado Open Records Act modernization bill this legislative session to make sure CORA works better for the press, and as Mayor I look forward to making sure the Mayor’s office follows all open records laws and has a positive and transparent relationship with the press and constituents.
When’s the last time you rode RTD?
In December, I took my teenage boys with me on the 15 down Colfax to Civic Center Station from our neighborhood in Montclair.
Vision Zero, Denver’s initiative to eliminate traffic deaths, could be going better. What would you do to improve that?
Years into the city’s “Vision Zero” plan to eliminate traffic deaths, Denver’s streets are currently deadlier than ever, with dozens of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists killed in collisions every year. It doesn’t have to be this way. By prioritizing environmental designs to ensure safe intersections, protected bike lanes, timely crossing signals, and enacting distracted driver laws, I believe we can meaningfully reduce traffic deaths in Denver.
The EPA has declared Denver a “severe” violator of federal ozone standards. What actions would you take to reduce ozone precursor emissions within the city?
My environmental legislation has made Colorado a national policy leader. I’ll do the same at the local level as Denver’s next Mayor. I plan to add EV chargers, renegotiate with Xcel to protect customers, electrify our transit and heating and cooling systems, which will reduce emissions substantially. Additionally, we can dramatically improve air quality and reduce emissions if we focus on adding population density in areas with high-quality public transit that is electrified. We must enable residents to meet all of their needs by using a combination of highly efficient public transit, connected bike lanes, EV charging infrastructure, and making our streets safer for pedestrians. My systems engineering background combined with my extensive legislative experience will enable me to deliver this vision of a connected, green, dynamic city.
What’s the worst intersection in Denver?
Recently, I was driving east on Speer and the ramp to go south on Broadway was closed because it was completely covered in ice. This is not acceptable in Denver. I first raised the issue of improved snow removal in this campaign and as Mayor, I will make sure we plow the roads so folks can get where they need to go. We badly need to update our plowing policy by using the latest climate data to craft a new approach. Ensuring infrastructure is safe and usable is the city’s job. We’re leaving too many of our neighbors behind when we ignore it. If people using wheelchairs, kids going to school, or parents pushing strollers cannot get around for weeks because of thick sheets of snow and ice, we need to fix it. Cities with comparable budgets are doing better than Denver. As Mayor, I will work with DOTI to reimagine and redesign our approach beyond the current failing “solar plowing” policy.
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