On to the Runoffs

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: A newsworthy come from behind win for Denver’s Initiative 301, decriminalizing “magic mushrooms,” which is now ahead outside the recount margin:

Far out, man.


Shrooms for you, Denver!

WEDNESDAY POLS UPDATE: It’s runoffs galore in Denver as Westword’s Michael Roberts updates:

The results in Denver’s 2019 election will spur multiple runoffs just under a month from now. Incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock must best former RiNo Art District president Jamie Giellis to keep his job on June 4, when five Denver City Council races will also be decided. Meanwhile, Ordinance 300, better known as Right to Survive, failed by a margin that left plenty of veteran political observers slack-jawed, while Ordinance 301, which called for the decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms, fared better and isn’t technically dead, but its chances have faded in a big way…

District 2’s Kevin Flynn, District 6’s Paul Kashmann and District 7’s Jolon Clark ran unopposed, while three other incumbents — District 4’s Kendra Black, District 8’s Chris Herndon and District 11’s Stacie Gilmore — tallied more than 50 percent to secure their re-election. Not so for District 5’s Mary Beth Susman, District 9’s Albus Brooks and District 10’s Wayne New, all of whom must immediately gear up for June 4. Their respective opponents will be Amanda Sawyer, Candi CdeBaca and Chris Hinds.

Runoffs will also be necessary in District 1, where Amanda Sandoval and Mike Somma are set to face off, and in District 3, where Jamie Torres and Veronica Barela are still standing. And while Timothy O’Brien had no opposition in his bid to remain Denver auditor, the sprint for clerk and recorder proved tight, tight, tight. Signs point to Paul López and Peg Perl winding up back in the ring next month.

In the at-large council race, incumbents Debbie Ortega and Robin Kniech held on to their seats over a large field of challengers. But from the mayoral race where the incumbent will face a runoff for the first time since 1995 down to a surprisingly hot clerk and recorder’s race where Peg Perl squeaked into a runoff against the better known Paul Lopez, the 2019 Denver municipal elections are only at halftime. Original post follows.


As of 8:30pm it is looking increasingly likely that many of Denver’s races will be decided in runoffs on June 4th. With just over 100,000 ballots counted Mayor Hancock leads by just 39.7%, not enough to avoid facing one of his challengers next month.

Likewise Clerk and Recorder, District 1, District 3, District 5, and District 10 all are very likely to go to a run off at this hour. In District 9 Albus Brooks may yet get enough votes to pass the magic 50% mark, but as of right now he’s only at 48.07%. Incumbent Chris Herndon in District 8 is probably a bit happier with 51.15% of the vote. That could also go to a run off, but unlike in District 9 his closest challenger only has 22.26%. Still not a great result for an incumbent.

There is no doubt, however, that ordinance 300 has gone down to a wide defeat. Over 80% of the votes counted so far have been against it. After this bad showing in Denver it would be surprising to me if a similar bill gets out of committee in the legislature.

Edited to Add: The Denverite relays that there are only 139,412 ballots. This means that there are just short of 40,000 or 28% left to be counted. The next update for people staying up that late will be 10pm.

About DENependent

Independent voter interested in the analysis of the "whys" of politics. Resident of Denver, Coloradan since 1980.

41 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Davie says:

    My take on the results is that voters are not happy with Hancock's "Whatever the developers want" growth policies, "Too little, too late" homeless strategy, and "Oh, maybe we should do something about transit, too" attitude.  Even with $2.1 million to spend, he couldn't pull in 40% of the vote.

    I voted for Pen Tate, but will fully support Jamie Giellis for mayor — she knows how to do intelligent growth and transportation.  Her data-driven approach to the issues include addressing the long-neglected needs of the chronically homeless.

    After 8 years, Michael Hancock has grown far too complacent and needs to find a new job.  I hope the 60%-plus of voters that want change will rally around Jamie and be rewarded with the change and improvements our city needs.

    I also hope the challengers will set aside their differences and endorse Jamie as well.  The alternative is to give Hancock four more years of the status quo.


    • DENependent says:

      I agree. There is a general sense of discontent with incumbents in the city as evidenced by the two council members that came close to being forced into a runoff or look like they will be in a run off. Albus Brooks has fallen short in 9 and Chris Herndon came close to a runoff in 8.

      Similarly Paul D. López barely got more votes than Peg Perl and Sarah O. McCarthy despite having a lot more money than both of them combined. I think he may lose the runoff even if Hancock ultimately wins.

      • Davie says:

        Mary Beth Susman is easily the most endangered of the pro-development councilmembers.  Albus Brooks not only supported Hancock's anything goes development agenda, but probably lost a few percentage points in the vote due to his camping ban.  

        I think Hancock's Three Amigos buddy Chris Herndon got lucky by flying under the radar regarding his pro-development actions in northeast Denver.

        But getting a new mayor would declaw Susman, Herndon and Brooks, should Susman or Brooks win their respective runoffs.

        As for the Clerk’s race, I agree Lopez is not in a strong position. I supported Peg Perl, and was happy to see this morning that she just pulled into the runoff, leading me to think she has a pretty good shot at the job.

    • Voyageur says:

      Who knows? Jamie might finally get off her duff and vote in a city election.

      • Davie says:

        Ha Ha!  To be fair, not only was she travelling overseas a lot in the last decade (Before mail-only elections, I've missed a few votes due to travel as well), last year she was a little busy with her engagement and later marriage.

        I hope we keep our eye on the ball — which is getting Hancock out of office.  The rest is noise.


        • Voyageur says:

          So, she can't get married and vote at the same time?

          How about walking and chewing gum?

          Long before mail- in ballots, we had absentees. In 53 years of voting, I have missed just two elections:

          The 1968 Democratic primary because I was in basic training with no real forwarding address.

          A special election about 30 years ago called to resolve some obscure labor issue.

          Every one else I made.  Including school board, special elections, the Moffat Tunnel Commision! RtD, city, you name it.  Every one.

          So when this twit says voting is not a litmus test of civic interest, I disagree.

          It kind of is!

    • Mike W. says:

      I'm not a Denverite, but I was under the impression Giellis represented the "developers" which doesn't exactly give ya'll much of a choice, does it?

      • Davie says:

        Denver expects to add 200,000 new residents by 2040, so stopping development isn't  an option.  It's how that development is managed, listening to neighborhoods, balancing density and affordability while preserving our quality of life that is needed.

        Hancock has allowed developers to run roughshod over neighborhoods and giving them a pass on affordable housing, infrastructure and environmental sustainability. 

        Put simply, Giellis knows what she's doing when it comes to city planning, and we need a lot of that if we are to continue thriving as we grow.

        • CDW says:

          Are you talking about Denver proper or metro Denver?  And if you're talking about Denver proper, what is your vision for the city?

          • Davie says:

            According to Denveright Comprehensive Plan 2040, that is the expectation for Denver proper.  The 'burbs will probably see equivalent growth, so sustainability and mobility will be critical to livability.  Also regional planning and cooperation is a must, starting today. 

            Will we need to build vertically?  Absolutely. 

            Will individuals commute to work alone in multipassenger ICE vehicles?  Highly unlikely — parking, if you can find it won't be affordable.

            Green roofs, electrified transportation (maybe even moving sidewalks for us old geezers that can't ride scooters), and more walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods.  

            And hopefully trees and openspace won't be restricted to museums and photo displays.

            Oh, and be sure to flush twice, it's a long way to the water fountain sad

      • notaskinnycook says:

        That's what I saw, and why I voted for Tate, Mike W. But now, since it's a choice between her and Hancock, she's looking better and better.

  2. Wong21fr says:

    Hey, gotta trade one developer-dependent mayor for another one.  Hancock:  The Devil You Know.  Giellis:  The Devil You Don't (but we know for damn sure that Kyle Zeppelin is pulling the strings).

    That she couldn't be bothered to vote while overseas is a big hit IMO.  Hell, I voted in two presidential elections in two separate combat zones and made that happen.

    • Davie says:

      I don't have a problem with the Zeppelins — they have been very compassionate and enlightened developers in my view.  I'm not anti-growth, I just think developers need to do much more for affordable housing than they currently are required by the Hancock administration.

      The voting litmus test is a bogus issue when it comes to determining our city's future over the next four years and beyond.  If you support Hancock, so be it.  I'm not happy with his administration's pay-to-play politics, and am voting for Jamie.

      • unnamed says:

        Agreed.  I'm voting for Jaime too.  As far as the Zeppelins, they gave us "Kashmir".  laugh

      • Voyageur says:

        Understand, Davey, I have great respect for your views on politics, economics, and craft beers.  But, no, I don't think somebody who skipped about half the elections in the past two decades is the kind of person I want to lead my adopted city.  She just comes across to me as an entitled little twit.

        At least Hancock understands that the first step to success is showing up!

        • Davie says:

          Well, V'ger, I actually have had an opportunity to talk to her in person on two occasions (and her husband), and "entitled twit" doesn't come anywhere near describing her.  She has a solid mid-western set of sensibilities and values (she's from Iowa, like my wife).

          I've been wrong about people before (afterall, I voted for Hancock twice), but I think she will do a much better job than Hancock will for Denver.

          • Voyageur says:

            If it's any consolation, I voted for George W. Bush once.

            Hope you're right about the Non Voting Lady.  But tell her to lay off that "litmus test" crap.  It's insulting to people like Wong and moi who voted even in the midst of military service.

      • Wong21fr says:

        I understand the position, but I don't give the Zeppelins as much credit as you do.  Kyle's quick to shit on anyone who disagrees with his positions and his social justice outreach seems more like a schtik than anything else.  He's the guy who made RiNo what it is and who began the displacement process in the area- yet you can count the amount of affordable housing he's provided on an amputated hand.  But he's quick to slam developers with proven affordable housing portfolio's (Zacalo) as not being for the community. 


        I do think Giellis can/could do a decent job, but what she's promised is so over the top and unrealistic that she'll be breaking promises before she even gets elected. Hopefully I’m proven wrong and she’s able to increase affordable housing, increase development levels of market-rate housing, implement and build a transit network, build additional housing for the homeless, overturn the camping ban, and solve homelessness without bankrupting the city

        • notaskinnycook says:

          I was with you right up until you got to "overturn the camping ban". I don't know what part of the city you're in, but I'm about two miles south of the Capitol. I will not approve people setting up camp in my alley or on my hell-strip. We can and must do better.

          • MADCO says:

            I agree that "we" can and shfriendlyould do better.
            What does 'better' look like?

            I didn't make the time to study 300 cuz I was certain it would fail, BIGLy.

            But wouldn't most "campers" head for the parks ? Not a good solution either, but I pictured any grassy place along the rivers/creeks/canals and parks as the attraction.  Close to a rec center or camper friendly bathroom.

            • notaskinnycook says:

              Nope. Bathrooms seem to be of little concern. There are hordes of people camped out on the Platte and along Cherry Creek. Human waste and trash are becoming a real concern for the watercourses in the city. And the parks would become scary places families would shun. 300 would only have exacerbated the problem.

  3. bullshit! says:

    I still find it hard to be anything other than ABC (Anybody But Hancock).

    Also Giellis won't be pawing women at City Hall.

    Sorry but it's true.

  4. JohnInDenver says:

    I spoke briefly to Giellis at a Dem meeting, as she was beginning the campaign. She seems bright, personable, and was listening to a variety of folks in the room. She was not the candidate I wound up voting for, but unless there is some additional egregious revelation beyond her voting record, she'll be my choice in the run-off.

    Development is going to happen — and the eventual process is too complex an exchange between existing owners, developers, bankers, city government, state government and probably others in Denver, plus the equivalent set of people in surrounding and in-fill communities.  No mayor, no matter how well intentioned, does more than add a bit of weight to one side or another.

    Hancock has had 8 years — and I'm hard pressed to name one portion of city government where his "management" of incumbent leaders or choice of someone to fill a vacancy has been a rousing success. I don't have to deal with city & county government often, thankfully, but when I have, the staff service has been haphazard.  Two quick, recent examples, one mine, one from a new resident who told me his tale of woe:

     * The hydrant at the end of my block took about 3 months from initial report of a problem, to someone putting a warning on the hydrant, to inspection, to notification (by someone hanging a tag on my door), to digging & replacement (which did NOT match the tag's information), to patch on the street, to actual paving on the street. 

     * An acquaintance in an auto accident / hit and run got a plate number, a picture of the departing car (involving himself in a chase to get the picture), talked with the dispatcher and was told to wait.  Then sat and waited for an officer to respond for 90 minutes.  He called back, heard he would likely NOT have an officer any time soon, and that he should go to a District office to make the report.  He went, and the office complained he should have gone to a DIFFERENT district office, as it was responsible for the intersection where the hit occurred. After filling out the form (on paper – not on a device), he was dismissed and told he'd be called with more info.  Not hearing from them in a couple of days, he had his insurance agent follow up — and the insurance firm was able to pry some information from the department.

    If I stopped and thought about it, I'm sure I could come up with better, more efficient interactions that someone has told me about.  And perhaps things are worse in other cities of the metro area.  But my mood is pretty much anti-incumbent — and that was BEFORE I heard my spouse's anger about his treatment of an officer assigned to his security detail.

    Giellis may not be a solution — but I have a hard time seeing why I should endorse the incumbent.

    • harrydoby says:

      I don't see any Hancock supporters here…

      My issue with Hancock and a few city council members concerns their handling of Park Hill Golf Course land.  First, they tried to do a sweetheart development deal with the owner, overlooking the fact that the operator of the golf course had first right of refusal to purchase the property, not to mention options to extend their lease for up to 10 more years, not to mention the perpetual conservation easement preserving it as open space.  Then, after the operator filed a lawsuit, the city then took possession of the north end of the property to construct a detention pond, again ignoring the fact that it was an operational business and not even bothering to go through any formal condemnation process. 

      Compensation?  Nope.  Another lawsuit? Yup.  Still planning to pave over this open space assuming it never reopens as a golf course?  You bet.

      I wrote this in the Denver Post with the gory details.  Parks and Rec Director Happy Haynes responded with a highly misleading response.  Since the Denver Post doesn't do flame wars, my follow-up rebuttal wasn't published, so I posted this on Facebook after his comments in one of the debates:

      Not only did the Mayor misrepresent the facts around the city's objective in acquiring Park Hill Golf Course, he's now claiming credit for designating over a thousand acres of park land, that actually was a result of his administration's mismanagement of the lands. Here is a response I wrote earlier clarifying the misrepresentations he and Parks and Rec seem to have settled upon:

      I was disappointed by Denver Parks and Recreation Executive Director Happy Haynes' response to both The Post's reporting and my guest commentary. Let me try to clear the air. The subject is the loss of open space, not park land. However, Director Haynes does raise a good point — DPR "found" hundreds of acres of park land only after Auditor Tim O'Brien's 2016 audit pointed out DPR's failure to follow the proper park designation rules to protect land the city already owned. 

      Stapleton's 400 acres of open space and parks is a direct result of it being a master planned community started under the Webb Administration over 20 years ago. Globeville, Elyria-Swansea and Northeast Park Hill do not have that advantage. Why are we concerned that they (and Park Hill Golf Course) will be overlooked? Quoting Haynes' deputy Scott Gilmore "But establishing significant new green space in Denver? “I don’t think it is feasible, to be honest,” he said.

      Why are we concerned that the city is planning to sell off this land to developers? Because the city's September 2017 proposal to buy from Clayton was structured to remove the conservation easement which forbids development, and included millions in financial incentives to break up the land for sale to third parties.

      I believe the point Director Haynes is missing is that leveraging 155 acres of existing open space for a regional park serving these neglected communities will attract nearby development of mixed-income housing, retail, groceries, and jobs — not prevent them.

  5. 2Jung2Die says:

    Latest numbers had 'shrooms ahead by about 1%, so while the quasi-Seinfeld reference in your photo is clever, it's Dewey Beats Truman time!

    • itlduso says:

      The 'shrooms win is a big mistake, just like legalizing edibles was a mistake.  Both can produce hallucinogenic symptoms that can be very intense (ask NY Times columnist Maureen "fetal position" Dowd).  I spoke with a firefighter at a party over the weekend who noted that all pot related incidents he has dealt with involved edibles. Legalizing regular pot was fantastic.  These other items, not so much.  I know whereof I speak.

      • MADCO says:

        Well …

        Schedule I drugs

        1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.

        2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

        3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

        Alcohol, mj in any form, opioids, heroin, psilocybin, and a hundred other substances 
        Let's re-write the Controlled Substance Act and define criteria. The way it is – the only rule is if you’re rich, you get what to do whatever.

        this does not legalize anything.
        It requires changes for the city's enforcement priorities


  6. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    If I lived in Denver, I'd be voting for Hancock. Sorry, folks, but somebody who couldn't be bothered to vote in half of prior elections doesn't deserve a shot now at the "big time," no matter how personable she is.

    • DENependent says:

      Fair enough. I actually live in Denver and will be voting for Giellis because I am slightly more annoyed by Hancock’s problems and faults than hers. She might turn out to be no better, but I doubt she will be any worse.

    • unnamed says:

      I'm with DENependent.  It did impact my vote in the May 7th election, but for the runoff: what he said.

  7. Wong21fr says:

    Does anyone on ColoradoPols get at all rankled by the fact that Giellis is endorsed by the Denver County GOP, appears on Peter Boyles, and has made a very heavy outreach to Republicans in Denver? Hell, I heard a rumor that she told a few Republicans that she found Denver's open carry ban to be outdated and that it should be repealed (entirely a rumor mind you).

    If not, bravo.

    • Davie says:

      Should make for interesting reading in the next month.  I recall the runoff in 2011 where mudslinging included rumors that Hancock was a bible-thumping creationist who didn't support abortion.  Ah, politics…

    • DENependent says:

      I’m rather surprised that a candidate that says she wants to allow sanctioned homeless camping sites or “social consumption venues” has been endorsed by even the Denver GOP.

      As for the rumor… Bullshit. I doubt any serious candidate in Denver would support open carry and suspect it is just baseless mud slinging.

  8. Gray in Mountains says:

    I understand that all the urban campers create several noxious problems. But, banning won't work until and unless the city creates acceptable options for these impoverished, often mentally ill, PEOPLE.

    • DENependent says:

      That is very easy for you to say since you live very far away from where real people have to actually live with the consequences, intended and not, of choosing a policy. It is also easy for you to say since you give no details whatsoever on what you consider to be an “acceptable option”. Or how to pay for it. Which is also easy for you since you won’t be taxed for it.

      This is rather like someone who lives in a New York apartment stating a strong opinion on the best wildfire fighting slogan.

      • Voyageur says:

        On that proverbial other hand, Denny,  you probably have strong opinions about drilling for oil in the Alaskan Wildlife preserve.

        As to the homeless, the answer is easy. Let ’em camp out in the mountains.

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