Denver City Council District 10: The candidates and the issues

Public safety is the dividing issue in the race between incumbent Chris Hinds and newcomer Shannon Hoffman.
8 min. read
Incumbent District 10 Councilmember Chris Hinds (left) and challenger Shannon Hoffman.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

In many ways, District 10 is a microcosm of many of the major issues facing Denver this election cycle. There are big business interests with the Central Business District; transportation and safety concerns at Union Station; politics at the State Capitol and City and County Building and the presence of Capitol Hill, a neighborhood where more than three-quarters of residents are renters.

Plus, the district is home to many of Denver's flagship green spaces, including Cheesman Park, Congress Park, Civic Center Park and parts of City Park.

So when it comes to issues like affordability, housing, public safety and homelessness -- just to name a few -- District 10 is kind of at the core of it all.

In the runoff to represent the District, incumbent Councilmember Chris Hinds is running against political newcomer Shannon Hoffman. Hinds topped voting in the district in April with around 35.6% of the vote. Hoffman came in second with around 27%, narrowly beating Noah Kaplan's approximate 25.7% (and Margie Morris' 11.7%) for the second spot in the runoff.

City Council District 10.
Data Source: Denver Elections Division
Data Source: Denver Elections Di

Who are the candidates?

Chris Hinds

Hinds' background is in computer science and finance, but after an accident put him in a wheelchair, he got involved in politics as a private citizen to advocate for people with disabilities. After helping pass a state law expanding parking protections for people with disabilities, he ran for and won the Council seat in 2019.

Since then, Hinds worked on passing a bill raising Denver's minimum wage and pointed to yes-votes on affordable housing legislation and Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) funding as key accomplishments. In his next term, Hinds said he wants to focus on pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure and housing for people living on the streets.

As the incumbent, Hinds has faced criticism throughout the spring election that he has not always been responsive to constituent concerns and outreach. During a May debate, Hinds said he did not know about the criticism until running for reelection. He pointed to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason, encouraged people to reach back out to his office and said he would do better.

"I own my mistakes, but we learned from those mistakes," he said.

Shannon Hoffman

In 2019, Hinds was the political newcomer, running against then-incumbent Councilmember Wayne New. Now he is facing a political newcomer in Hoffman. She is running as part of a coalition affiliated with Democratic Socialists of America, which includes fellow runoff candidates Candi CdeBaca in District 9, and Shontel Lewis in District 8. Incoming at-large Councilmember Sarah Parady, third-place mayoral candidate Lisa Calderón and former district candidates Tony Pigford and Tiffany Caudill were also part of the slate.

Hoffman's background is in social activism and nonprofits. She worked with the Montbello Organizing Committee on the FreshLo project, which is bringing a grocery store and affordable housing to a food desert. She also worked on a housing project with Emancipation Theater.

A renter herself, Hoffman said she wants to see better tenants' and workers' rights protections, city-owned social housing, more green space and sustainability.


Hinds is Denver's fifth highest fundraiser among all District Council races, with around $256,667 so far. Hoffman is eighth, with around $183,336 so far.

Dynamics and Endorsements

Hoffman's supporters include the Working Families Party, Democratic Socialists of America, IATSE Local 7, community leader Brother Jeff and Calderón, among others.

Hinds' endorsements include former competitors Kaplan and Morris, current Councilmembers Robin Kniech, Jolon Clark, Debbie Ortega and Kendra Black, former Mayors Wellington Webb and Federico Peña, SEIU Local 105 and UFCW Local 7, among other elected officials and unions.

Hinds also has the unique combination of support from both Progressive Democrats of America and the Denver Republican Party. Hinds said he did not ask for the Republican endorsement (Hinds is a registered Democrat), but that it shows his ability to unite people.

What are the issues?

Public safety

Public safety is a key issue in District 10. In addition to high levels of bike, catalytic converter and car thefts across the city, some downtown businesses say homelessness can hurt business. There are also longstanding debates over safety, policing and homelessness in Union Station, a new addition to the District. In recent years, Denver has temporarily closed Civic Center citing public safety, and put up rocks and other blockades to prevent people from camping in parts of Capitol Hill. And last summer, police shot into a crowd in LoDo, injuring six people.

City Council does not have direct control over things like the urban camping ban, policing or safe injection sites. Even the budget, which dictates police funding, is written by the mayor (Council can pass amendments, but risks a veto). But Council can do things like expand STAR, the police alternative, organize gun buyback programs and shape things like youth violence prevention programs.

When it comes to policing, Hoffman has described herself as an abolitionist. While abolition can take on a variety of meanings, Hoffman said in a May debate that for her, this looks like diverting money from Denver Police toward other departments to respond to public health issues.

"This word might be a scary word to some folks but I am not here to scare you," she said. "Abolition is about what keeps us all healthy, safe and free, and so abolition is also about economic security, it is also about housing security, it is also about food security."

While Hinds pointed to Council's decision to expand STAR, Denver's police alternative, Hoffman said Councilmembers need to do more.

"That's an up or down vote, that's not going to City Council budget meetings and advocating that we have more money in this program," she said.

District 10 candidate Shannon Hoffman cries as she speaks to supporters at the Democratic Socialists of America's election night watch party. April 4, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Hinds' position on policing has shifted in the past. Following the racial justice protests over police violence in 2020, Hinds tweeted "Defund the police," writing that he viewed the phrase as "a movement that moves from punishment of our people."

Recently, he has said he supports expanding police staffing, while also promoting Council's work with STAR. Hinds said he thinks Denver Police Department should also work on diversity among the force to better represent the city, and reallocate resources toward community programs.

"I do agree that we should have a police department, I believe that we should have a funded police department," he said. "Those folks who are helping us make sure that we have public health, safety and welfare in our city, they're city employees too, and we need to make sure that we respect them, we lift them up and we allow them to do the jobs that they were hired to do in our city."

Housing and transportation

Both candidates have talked about reducing car-dependency and making Denver more accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and people with disabilities. On housing, Hinds' vision includes converting downtown office space, using incentives like tax credits to promote the development of more affordable housing and strengthening renter protections.

Hoffman has talked about creating a tenants' bill of rights and legal defense, expanding rental assistance and buying buildings to convert into housing.

Many ideas raised from candidates are things the city is already doing to a certain extent, including motel purchases for housing and temporary pandemic-era rental assistance programs. One difference is that Hoffman has voiced support for social housing, a form of city-owned housing where residents pay based on their income.


Another divisive topic this election has been the urban camping ban and homeless sweeps, many of which take place in District 10.

While the yet-to-be-determined mayor has control over the existence and implementation of sweeps, Hinds and Hoffman's positions differed on sweeps in the city.

At the May debate, Hinds said he supports sweeps when they pose a major public health hazard, citing the potential for needles and waste at encampments.

"Is important that we manage the cleanups to limit it to public health and safety issues and not not just enforce a camping ban, which also was before my time," he said. "I definitely support making sure that we have the public health, safety and welfare of everyone."

District 10 City Council member Chris Hinds in council chambers. Feb. 22, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Hoffman wants Denver to stop the sweeps altogether and overturn the urban camping ban.

"Denver's current policies regarding unhoused people are cruel, inhumane, expensive, and ineffective," she wrote on her website. "And D10's [District 10] status quo leadership supports more of the same."

The two candidates also diverge on safe injection sites, which harm reduction advocates say prevent drug overdoses but have faced opposition out of concerns about condoning drug use. The sites are currently illegal at the federal level, and a bill that would have allowed them failed at the state capitol this year, which means any conversation about them is purely hypothetical for now.

At the May debate, Hoffman said she would support safe injection sites if possible down the line. Hinds said he trusts the recent decision of state legislatures to decide against the sites.

Need more help voting? Click here to read the rest of our voter guide.

Recent Stories