DENVER — Denver mayoral challenger Jamie Giellis says she deleted social media accounts following criticism of some racial gaffes because she didn't want her posts to become the focus of the current runoff race.
"I want to focus on the reason that we're here," she said in an interview with 9NEWS anchor Kyle Clark at a fundraiser on Thursday night. "We only have 19 more days to talk about what really matters to this city."
Wednesday, Giellis faced questions about her online comments related to African Americans, Latinos and Asians.
It began when she was questioned about America’s best-known civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Giellis couldn't come up with what "NAACP" stood for when asked in a Facebook live interview on the Brother Jeff show.
A post promoting Thursday's event, billed as a conversation about Denver featuring tacos and lowriders, was then tweeted and deleted from her campaign's Twitter account. The day ended with a 10-year-old tweet from her personal account resurfacing. In it, she asked, "Why do so many cities feel it necessary to have a ‘Chinatown’?”
In addition to the deleted tweet, her personal Twitter and Instagram accounts went dark, as did her campaign Instagram account. That page has since been made active again.
"I think a leader faces a crisis face-on by taking responsibility for it, and acknowledging that when you’re in the midst of that moment, who knows what the right decision is to be made? But I’m here. I’m talking with people. I’ve been open about it all day," she said. "I made a mistake. I’m going to make mistakes."
Giellis said she never personally deleted any tweets and she would check with her team about what happened. She added that she decided to make her personal pages private.
Giellis faces two-term incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock in a June 4 runoff election after Hancock was held below the threshold to win outright in the first round of voting.
She was endorsed this week by their other two competitors in the initial election. Giellis said she spoke to Lisa Calderon and Penfield Tate on the phone Thursday morning. Calderon and Tate both reaffirmed their support in a Twitter thread following the conversation.
"Nobody can come into this job having every bit of knowledge and experience that you think you're going to need to face whatever challenges are coming. Nobody will. The mayor didn't. None of our mayors have. So, the point here is, am I willing to surround myself with people that will challenge me and push me? Absolutely. I've demonstrated that in the past week. And are people who have been formerly rivals or opponents with me willing to come to the table and be part of that? Yes, absolutely," Giellis said.
In the full interview, Kyle asks about her comment on Chinatowns. Watch in the video below. (Mobile users can see it here).
Kyle Clark contributed to this report.