DENVER — Sandwiched between the raucous 2018 elections and the sure-to-be can't-miss 2020 elections are the 2019 Denver city elections.
The Denver election used to be held at the same time as the November elections, the city charter was changed in 1995. It now requires the general city election be held on the first Tuesday in May in every odd number year.
This year, Denverites will go to the polls May 7 and decide on the mayor, the makeup of city council and several ballot questions.
Up until election day, 9NEWS will continue to look at the candidates and issues at the core of the election. Think of this as a "landing page" for everything you need to know about the election (bookmark us).
The races on the ballot:
Clerk and Recorder
City Council (two At-Large seats, 11 districts)
What issues are on the ballot:
Don't expect the trusty Blue Book to show up at your door before the Denver Election. The city's election office is not sending the voter information guides out this year in an effort to be more environmentally friendly. Below you'll find our summaries of the ballot measures, but if you want the Blue Book experience, you can view it online. Some libraries also have limited quantities available if you want to see it in person, or you can call 311 to request that one be mailed to your house.
(ON THE BALLOT) Denver Right to Survive Initiative
The latest on this initiative shows supporters arguing that something must be done to aid the city's ailing homeless population. Detractors of Initiative 300 — as seen in ads and on road signs — think "we can do better."
A YES vote on 300 would allow people to sleep in public spaces, like parks and sidewalks, as long as the sidewalk is not made impassible. People would be able to eat, share or accept food in a public space. They would also be able to occupy a legally parked vehicle and have an expectation of privacy.
A NO vote keeps Denver's camping ban in effect. Denver police and Denver Public Works would be able to ask people to leave public spaces and sweeps of camping areas could continue.
Oct. 1, 2018 → 9,000 signatures of support mean urban camping measure could appear on Denver ballot
Nov. 30, 2018 → Why can people in Denver camp for whiskey, but not if they're homeless?
Feb. 27, 2019 → 3 years later, Denver homeless and the city reach settlement in lawsuit over sweeps
Feb. 27, 2019 → What Denver can learn from homelessness policies in other states
April 9, 2019 (CoPo) → Debate over Denver's streets: As homelessness grips the city, voters ponder scrapping camping ban
April 9, 2019 (video) → How one homeless community is preparing for another city sweep
April 11, 2019 → Truth Test: No on 300 mailer has a sourcing problem
April 13, 2019 → Denver's homeless camping initiative stirs debate
(ON THE BALLOT) Psilocybin Initiative
This initiative would decriminalize small-time possession of psilocybin mushrooms.
The mayor is unsure about the measure, saying he's worried what the rest of the country will think if Colorado's capital decriminalizes shrooms after being the first state to legalize recreational marijuana.
The city's District Attorney's Office said they think the city would become a magnet for users. A spokesperson for Denver DA Beth McCann said she is against the measure because "we are still in the early stages of marijuana legalization and we are still learning what the impact of legalization is."
Supporters point to the drug's burgeoning popularity as a potential treatment for depression. Johns Hopkins researchers have suggested that it be reclassified as a drug in the same category as sleeping pills. It still needs to pass phase III clinical trials, but the FDA is on board and expediting development by giving psilocybin “breakthrough status.”
A YES vote on 301 would make the use and possession of psilocybin by people over 21 years of age Denver's "lowest law enforcement priority" and prohibit the city from prosecuting cases related to it.
A NO vote on 301 would continue to allow the city to prosecute cases related to the use and possession of psilocybin.
Jan. 7, 2019 → Campaign to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms in Denver says it has enough signatures to make the ballot
Feb. 1, 2019 → Initiative to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms makes Denver ballot
Feb. 19, 2019 → Denver DA filed 9,267 drug cases in three years, only 11 were for mushrooms
May 2, 2019 → Colorado Veteran used magic mushrooms to treat PTSD. Now he wants them decriminalized
WATCH: A breakdown of Initiatives 300 and 301
(NOT ON THE BALLOT) Denver Airport Minimum Wage Initiative
The Denver Airport Minimum Wage Initiative was withdrawn by its supporters on March 5 - after the city's mayor already pushed through a lot of what this initiative was working towards — as such, it was no longer needed.
Aug. 23, 2018 → Airport workers want to ask Denver voters for a higher minimum wage
Feb. 14, 2019 → Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announces proposal to raise minimum wage for city employees to $15 per hour
Feb. 26, 2019 → Denver International Airport workers push for minimum wage increase
March 18, 2019 (DBJ) → Denver's minimum-wage hike signed into law; Colorado initiative clears House
April 8, 2019 → Minimum wage for Denver city employees will be $15 by 2021
(NOT ON THE BALLOT) Denver Internet Initiative
The people who started the process to put this initiative on the ballot never turned in their signatures to Denver Elections. The initiative would have complicated the city's relationship to state law — a 2005 Colorado law gave over control of large-scale telecommunications infrastructure to the communications companies.
This initiative would have given Denver back the right to control telecommunications infrastructure. 9NEWS sent an email to the backers of this initiative — we'll update this with their future plans if we hear back.
(NOT ON THE BALLOT) Let Denver Vote Initiative
This is the "No Olympics in Denver unless voters approve it" initiative. If passed, Denver would be bound by city ordinance to first put the question of hosting the Olympics to voters to decide.
According to Denver Elections, supporters did not get their signatures in on time to make it onto the May 7 ballot. Instead, they will be on the June 4 run-off ballot (if there is one, more on that below) — or the November city ballot.
March 19, 2018 → This group really doesn’t want Colorado to host the Olympics
Nov. 12, 2018 (CoPo) → One less competitor for Denver on possible 2030 Winter Olympics bid
Nov. 13, 2018 → US Olympic leaders arrive to scope out Denver
Dec. 14, 2018 → Salt Lake City chosen over Denver for U.S. Olympic bid
Important election dates:
April 15: Ballots begin mailing to active voters, 22-day residency deadline, ballot drop-boxes open across the city
April 29: Vote Centers open
May 7: Election day (vote centers open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
June 4: Run-off election
Voter service and polling locations (ballot drop-off map):
• Christ Community Church - 8085 E. Hampden Ave. | Gym
• Denver Elections Division - 200 W. 14th Ave. | Atrium
• Denver Police Department District 3 - 1625 S. University Blvd. | Conference room
• Harvey Park Recreation Center - 2120 S. Tennyson Way | Multipurpose room
• Highland Recreation Center - 2880 N. Osceola St. | Multipurpose room
• Montbello Recreation Center | 15555 E. 53rd Ave. | Multipurpose room
(All locations have drive-thru ballot drop-off locations)
What's at stake for the mayor and the direction of Denver's City Council
The localized city council races could have as much impact as the race for mayor — especially if Mayor Michael Hancock wins his reelection bid.
"If all the incumbents were to win and my seat were to go to somebody else that is more deferential to the mayor, the status quo will, sort of, be firmly in place," said District One Denver City Councilman Rafael Espinoza, who represents northwest Denver.
Espinoza is not running for reelection. And in full disclosure, he's not on "Team Hancock."
"No, I think that's pretty damn clear," said Espinoza.
He has been a voice of opposition but told Next with Kyle Clark that he's not running again because he feels he can do more for the city without the constraints of a full-time job as a councilman in the minority. He said he's also discouraged by low voter turnout, especially in his district.
Of the 13 city council seats, 10 have two or more candidates.
Espinoza believes there are five currently on council who can be counted on to support the mayor no matter what. Seven votes are needed to pass anything.
He'd like the next council to scrutinize contracts and policies more than the council he has sat on.
"All you have to do is say 'no' once to a budget. You don't have to be an obstructionist. You don't have to be unwilling, but if you want this administration to compromise, you have to show them the ability and desire and willingness to say no," said Espinoza.
Denver city council decisions can have a ripple effect to other cities in the metro area, if not the state. Discussions on homelessness, safe injection sites and immigration have been brought up in nearby cities and even at the state Capitol.
Mobile voting/drop-off locations (address and time):
• Christ Church United Methodist - 690 N. Colorado Blvd. | April 29 & April 30, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
• Barnum Recreation Center - 360 N. Hooker St. | May 1 & May 2, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
• La Familia Recreation Center - 65 S. Elati St. | May 3, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. & May 4, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Swansea Recreation Center - 2650 E. 49th Ave. | May 6, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. & May 7 (election day), 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Denver might not see run-off elections this year, but we probably will. The city hosts a run-off election on June 4 if, on the May 7 ballot, if in any of the races (except At-Large), a candidate fails to get more than 50% of the vote.
Denver has two At-Large seats — seats that anyone in the county can vote for. The winners are selected from the pool of candidates by voters. The top two vote-getters in the pool win the two seats.
Who's running for mayor:
Note: These candidates aren't listed on your ballot with an affiliation because it's a non-partisan ballot.
› Lisa Calderón — Affordable housing is #1 issue for newest Hancock challenger Lisa Calderon
› Jamie Giellis — Jamie Giellis: Mayor Hancock is setting the wrong tone for Denver
› Michael B. Hancock (incumbent) — Hancock wants to be Denver's mayor again
› Kalyn Rose Heffernan — Follow this link to the candidate's campaign page
› Danny Lopez — Here is a link to a Facebook page entitled "dannyflopezforcitycouncil."
› Penfield Tate III — Sitting down with one of Mayor Michael Hancock's challengers - Penfield Tate
The ballot order was finalized in a lot draw on March 13.
Watch 9NEWS' 2019 mayoral debate here, hosted by Kyle Clark and Marshall Zelinger:
Who's running for auditor:
› Timothy O'Brien (incumbent)
So, just to be clear, unless something outrageous happens, Mr. O'Brien will be the city's auditor again. The latest report we've done involving the city's Auditor Office is about recommendations to the Denver Sheriff Department and how they handle the jail:
Who's running for clerk and recorder:
› Paul Lopez
› Sarah McCarthy
› Margaret "Peg" Perl
District maps (per Denver Elections):
Who's running for City Council:
Almost 50 people. To see the full list, check out the Denver Elections site.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS | The candidates for mayor each stopped by Next with Kyle Clark for sit-down interviews. See them here.