DENVER — There are 17 people on the 2023 ballot for Denver Mayor, all vying to replace Michael Hancock after three terms in office. If that's not the most ever, it's at least the biggest pool of candidates for that office in decades, according to the Denver Clerk and Recorder's Office, which checked their sample paper ballots going back to 1946.
Each candidate has their own ideas regarding crime, homelessness, housing affordability and more. We asked all of them the same policy questions and asked for written responses.
Below you'll find Trinidad Rodriguez's answers, all unedited and in the candidate's own words, as well as documents related to policy proposals.
You can see the other candidates' responses here.
Denver's Election Day is April 4.
Trinidad "Trini" Rodriguez is a former public finance banker who worked with clients including the City of Denver, Denver Public Schools, and RTD. He is making his first run for public office.
Political affiliation: Democrat
In a single sentence, why are you running for mayor?
To build a city where every Denverite, regardless of their neighborhood, can achieve their version of success.
Please provide specifics on your plan to improve public safety and reduce crime in Denver. Specifically, please note whether the Denver Police budget should be increased or decreased (including funding diversion to non-police emergency responses).
The first step I will take is to work with the Denver Police Department to hire more police officers. This includes hiring the best in-class leadership and management to help develop our officers over time, working to make officers feel supported, and ultimately increase job satisfaction and talent retention overall. I do support increasing the Denver Police budget.
My administration will also work to ensure that Denver police officers are doing the work they are trained to do and have all of the training to do their work while preserving life.
I also support raising the standards and performance for equity in policing by focusing recruiting in our diverse neighborhoods and with rigorous training programs on de-escalating conflicts and using non-lethal techniques to protect life. Rebuilding trust with communities will open opportunities for crime prevention, the most valued way to achieve a sense of safety.
What should the City of Denver do to promote affordable housing?
I will accelerate the creation of total housing supply and its diversity, particularly housing stock to meet the needs of the workforce and lowest income families. Having served on the board of Denver Housing Authority for over 11 years, I helped lead the organization through its first affordable housing bond backed by the city of Denver to speed up the delivery of 5,000 units in Sun Valley, Westridge and other neighborhoods, and open new opportunities in permanent supportive housing land banking. Denver should innovate this approach to support this development amidst today’s market realities.
My involvement on the Blueprint Denver Task Force for three years and knowledge of capital and development markets have positioned me to catalyze private sector momentum in the supply of so-called missing middle housing types that can be priced to be affordable to moderate income households. These can be built in medium and medium-low density along high frequency transit corridors and nodes becoming a large-scale opportunity for our city.
Denver also needs to cut red tape and accelerate the permitting process, which involves investing in logistics plans and accountability, which can be through independent contracting and/or resource alignment.
How should Denver change its approach to addressing homelessness?
One of my first acts as Mayor will be to institute a state of emergency response to manage the unhoused crisis in Denver with specific disruptive and transformational proposals to address the crisis. Under my state of local emergency proposal, the city will identify a location and build a temporary field treatment center employing many of the similar strategies the City developed to prepare for a catastrophic COVID surge.
Under such a scenario, teams will be deployed with qualified mental health clinicians to admit persons who are of danger to themselves and/or others either voluntarily or involuntarily.
I believe in working with Denver’s Legislative delegation to adopt laws that enable involuntary holds to be used in Colorado to support the completion of the standard of care for mental and substance addiction disorders is necessary to meet a high ethical burden that I will demand for every stage of my plan’s implementation.
How should Denver change its approach to mobility and safe streets?
I believe that speed limits should be reduced and better enforced, expanding the use of technology and the increased ranks my public safety plan calls for. I also believe in building an infrastructure that protects pedestrians and cyclists through protected bike lanes, priority lanes and areas at intersections and signaling. I will build upon my knowledge gained through People for Bikes Green Lane Project in the Netherlands and board service with the Downtown Denver Partnership. I also have ideas about how the city could partner with neighborhood organizations to help facilitate snow removal in residential areas to help improve safety and access in non-car mobility. Ultimately, I want Denver to work towards an increased participation in public and active transportation and less reliance on cars.
The Mayor has significant control over a $3-4 billion budget and will hire cabinet members who oversee roughly 12,000 employees. Please detail your experience with budgets and hiring.
I'm a 'Numbers Guy'. Working in finance over the last 23 years with complex public financing has allowed me to balance budgets and also work to secure funding for projects that have gone on to serve tens of thousands of Denverites. I've also built teams to lead substantial organizations having served on executive search committees for an array of civic and nonprofit organizations, including one I chaired recently for Denver Housing Authority, a quasi-municipal corporation with over 400 employees and a $312 million annual budget. I assembled and led teams in the private sector, investing in members of diverse expertise to complete more than $250 million infrastructure financing transactions.
Should the City of Denver explore ways to exert more control over Denver Public Schools? If so, how would you do that and what would be your goal?
Yes, I believe that there should be a structural relationship between the City and DPS with a goal of deriving better outcomes for students and families in the short-, medium- and long-term. The relationship between the City and DPS should address the fundamental lack of engagement Denver voters have in the election of board members and facilitate alignment of planning, strategy, and resources. Though the City and mayor don’t have unilateral power to undertake such a relationship, I will use the Mayor's Office to push for this new direction in supporting our school district.
Please assess the Hancock administration’s response to the influx of migrants from the southern border since December 2022. What should Denver do to prepare for and respond to another potential influx of migrants?
Immediate steps taken by Mayor Hancock’s team served to provide safe shelter to the migrants upon their arrival to Denver. The mobilization of hundreds of city employees and volunteers to open and run shelters in Denver’s rec centers, the McNichols Building, and the Denver Coliseum, and to coordinate necessary provisions, was incredible. It was a huge team effort. Denver helped coordinate many of the service providers and the philanthropic community to bring additional resources to the table, as coordinated by the Rose Community Foundation (for which I served on the board under September, 2022).
Then, the City began to assess and plan for next steps with the migrants. For those migrants who came to Denver on their way to another city, Mayor Hancock’s team rose to a challenge swiftly, in most respects, by supporting migrants in getting to their ultimate destination in the U.S. For others, the City helped find opportunity in Denver as they pursued an immigration process. Many migrants were eager to get into the workforce in Denver and elsewhere, and it appears the City coordinated access to possible opportunities.
Denver’s preparation for the future needs to focus on three areas. First, staying and working in Denver can be more of an option for migrants if they have more time to get work and find housing. Denver is in need of growing our workforce. This is an area where we can have our philanthropic community help prepare with this kind of unique support.
Second, Denver needs to coordinate more closely with other destination jurisdictions. Reportedly, little or no such coordination occurred in late 2022/early-2023’s mass migration.
Third, Denver can prepare a more appropriate response mechanism that provides the services to support newly arrived migrants, much like the specialized services the City ensures are provided to people experiencing homelessness.
What should Denver do to prevent the displacement of longtime residents due to gentrification and tax burdens?
Short-term measures I will employ include emergency financial assistance, targeted efforts in housing choice voucher acceptance, acceleration of middle-, low-priced, and affordable housing. My team will quickly initiate longer-term strategies to address the pressures on gentrification in neighborhoods that could be exposed in the future and shoring up the short-term efforts.
In my volunteerism and career, I advanced efforts to stem involuntary displacement through the income restricted supply production. Through these experiences, I can develop actual strategies to achieve results in preventing and reversing displacement.
What should be done to revitalize downtown Denver (vis-à-vis office occupancy, the 16th Street Mall, crime)?
A range of efforts are underway, such as the ongoing project to renovate the 16th Street Mall, but there are a range of factors that are contributing to today’s dismal landscape.
I will prioritize implementing my plans to reverse escalating crime and spiraling homelessness happening in Downtown Denver. I believe doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results must be avoided. A clean and safe Downtown is a must to maintaining its position as a top economic driver for the City, State and Region where everyone can pursue their interests, from entrepreneurship and commerce to exploring culture and the arts. This will support the return to the office for employees and to visit for day trippers as people see it as a desirable place to spend time.
I view the changing work habits, and low commercial and retail occupancy as an opportunity for a new and exciting future for our Downtown that meets the needs of tomorrow’s economy. My strategy and planning vision will unlock potential. I have identified converting surplus commercial buildings to vertical mixed use communities that add community greenhouses and creative, arts and community spaces to housing and office spaces. I also point to the need for developing our mobility system to maximize Downtown’s full potential as the region’s mass transit hub working with RTD to deliver convenient and efficient alternatives to single occupancy cars.
I have committed to bringing city and county of Denver employees back more to the office, responding to the realities work from home have uncovered to make going into the office a more worthwhile choice for employees and their families. I see more activation in Downtown as a key to this, working with many partners to produce weekday Ciclovias, mass wellness activity events including shared streets and other unique opportunities that can only exist Downtown.
As Mayor, I will be active in pushing for collaboration between the public and private sectors and community to bring their unique contributions to the table to ensure our Downtown is a success for the long-term.
What is within the power of the City of Denver to fight the opioid epidemic? What steps should regional or state leaders take in cooperation to reduce fentanyl deaths?
Presently, cities play a significant role in fighting and mitigating the effects of the opioid epidemic at their most dire stage: people living and dying on our streets through drug-related death and violence and crime associated with the drug use, sale and distribution. US cities shoulder a disproportionately greater burden than the role they play in the origins epidemic itself which starts with people becoming addicted in urban, suburban, exurban and rural areas all converging in cities in search of places suited to feeding their addictions. According to a range of experts, expectations for this trend are that they will continue to grow.
That is why my plans for public safety and unhoused people specifically reverse these most direct impacts on people in cities.
Denver must push more aggressively to fight demand for opioids by using involuntary commitment for people with addiction and mental health disorders who are of danger to themselves and others, as my plan for addressing the most urgent part of homelessness outlines. Increasing treatment access is non-negotiable for a state that ranks 48th on this measure. Supporting people’s healing is the humane and best way to avoid overdose deaths.
I will work with the state Legislature to reverse recent sentencing reforms and make changes to the state laws governing involuntary holds to support the standard of care in achieving health.
As it relates to the criminal enterprises that traffic in synthetic opioids that are currently flooding our streets, the Denver Police Department must work to dislodge the supply chain to protect the innocent people who are frequently harmed in the crossfire of drug related violence. This is why I call for restoring the ranks of our police force to meet the heightened needs of our community. By building trust between our communities and the police force, we will see more cooperative work to achieve even greater safety for all.
Xcel Energy's franchise agreement expires on Dec. 31, 2026. What will you seek from the next agreement that protects Denver customers from high utility bills?
Yes, though this is only a starting point in protecting Denverites from volatile utility costs. I will view these issues holistically with climate change objectives, leaving no sustainability-enhancing utility supply options off the table.
Denver has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% by 2030. A sales tax approved by voters funds the city's climate action goals. What, if any, changes would you make to Denver's climate action goals and how would you make green energy and environmentally sustainable living available across income levels?
My vision for the environment is to build a city that serves the natural world. Equity must be a core grounding throughout in developing and implementing all of our plan for a growing city that must assume its responsibility to climates.
Many sustainability efforts can make near term, perceptible improvements in the local climate conditions. Among the most important is air quality, in which the Front Range region collectively has grappled with for decades and threatens to undo progress in shifting to more active mobility modes. Mitigating and reversing this trend in challenging conditions of geography and rapid emissions producing activity, including development will take long range planning and collaboration with our region of the state and US.
At the same time, private sector industry currently is pushing forward with exciting innovations in sustainable products and services. Some areas that I will prioritize include the following.
The emerging development of self-driving technology when combined with electric or hybrid mass transit vehicles has the potential to reduce emissions per vehicle mile traveled and improve the transit service frequency and coverage. As mayor, I will position Denver to specifically attract this innovation industry as a long term play in our future development.
Channeling markets through setting public/private investment targets, coordinating with cities that have similar climate approaches as a purchaser, investor and partner.
My administration will initiate our climate strategy to substantial economic development, operational, planning and direct expenditure efforts in high impact areas. DEN, DOTI, DEDO and our regional intergovernmental relations present unique opportunities.
Through efforts to enhance comprehensive mobility investments that were widely supported by public and private sector leaders and planners throughout the Front Range but did not pass at the ballot box, now is the time for my administration to step forward as a leader in planning solutions that support our regional goals for mobility.
Unlocking the potential for Denver to grow much more of its own healthy produce. Urban agriculture can be an opportunity for so many more in our community to reduce the negative impacts food industries have on our climate while achieving greater equity.
Yes or No
Will you enforce Denver’s camping ban?
Should Denver maintain its effective status as a sanctuary city through noncooperation with immigration agents?
Will you vote to support development of the Park Hill Golf Course as currently proposed on the April ballot?
Do you support the use of any Denver taxpayer funds to build a new football stadium for the Broncos?
Should Denver reduce vehicle volumes downtown?
Did you support Mayor Michael Hancock’s re-election in 2019?
If the Colorado legislature lifts the ban on local rent control, should Denver pursue some form of rent control?
Should Denver pursue the creation of a supervised drug injection site with the permission of the state legislature?
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