Written by Dominic Dezzutti

It may be odd to think that a Mayor being sworn into office in a city with a $22 million dollar budget deficit, the threat of losing a major annual tradition and a multitude of police issues, has a clear advantage. Yet, politically speaking, Mayor Michael Hancock is in a great position to begin his mayoral tenure.

Politics can be a funny and strange thing. While common sense may say one thing, when seen through a political filter, common sense can be made to stand on its head.

Common sense would say that coming into a mayoral career with a budget surplus and a harmonious police force would be a good thing.

But the political fact of the matter is that the above scenario can only get worse, not better.

The scenario that Mayor Hancock currently faces is far likelier to get better through simple economic patterns and history than it does to get much worse. There’s far more room to improve than there is to drop even further. When it comes to politics, it’s a better story to go from rags to riches than from riches to basically the same level of riches.

The current situation in Denver also provides Hancock with a significant challenge that makes it look less like he’s working in John Hickenlooper’s shadow, babysitting his successes, and more as his own man taking on his own challenges.

While the current state of affairs in Denver is a great political opportunity for Hancock, it will be a significant practical challenge. There’s no guarantee that Hancock comes out of this smelling like a rose. However, the challenge provides Hancock with the chance for real achievement.

Four years from now, the economy will likely be in much better shape, if not for any other reason but historically, the economy is a cycle. What goes up must come down, and vice versa. That cyclical effect will go a long way to make up some of the budget ground that Denver has lost in the past couple of years. Since that success should happen on Hancock’s watch, he’ll get the credit.

While the Denver police have faced a variety of scandals and issues, Interim Mayor Bill Vidal and his Safety Manager Charles Garcia cleaned house during their short tenure. Hancock still needs to find the exact right fit for Chief of Police and he must make sure the brutality cases stop. However, the slate is nearly clean and he has a chance to own future success.

And while the Stock Show’s potential move provides a unique conundrum for Hancock, it also provides a chance for him to flex his regional muscles to find a solution that still works for Denver. He also carries the ultimate ace in the hole, which is the fact that the Stock Show Complex is still under lease in Denver for the next 40 years. That’s a nice piece of paper to lean on, if he needs to.

Even though Michael Hancock enters his mayoral career facing some daunting problems, if he plays his cards right, he can do more than turn lemons into political lemonade. He can spin difficult straw into legacy gold.

About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.


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