DENVER (CBS4) – Mayor Michael Hancock wants another go as Denver’s top elected official. He will formally announce his candidacy Wednesday evening at the Hiawatha Davis Jr. Recreation Center in Park Hill.
During his two terms, the City of Denver has benefited from a strong economy and near unprecedented growth.
“The third term is really about making sure that that economy is diverse and equitable enough so people who have been left behind are brought into the economic mainstream and economic realities of today,” Hancock told CBS4’s Alan Gionet. “That’s loosening the grips of wage stagnation that has gripped this city and this nation for the last four decades. It’s about criminal justice reform and moving those people more into the mainstream of our community.”
The city is in the midst of rebuilding of cultural facilities and other infrastructure approved by voters in the “Elevate Denver” bond in 2017. Massive improvements are underway at the Denver Art Museum, the main library, the zoo and Denver Health Medical Center, which will get a new outpatient center as well as other improvements.
The city has also undergone great change during Hancock’s years as mayor, with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, rising housing prices and a plague of homelessness and opioid addiction problems. Hancock has taken criticism for homeless sweeps and a camping ban, a question about ending it is expected on the ballot.
“If it was about shelter we wouldn’t have this problem. Because we have invested in shelter, we have invested in transitional housing, we will continue to do that going forward, but this is exacerbated by the fact that we have mental health problems in our city. We have mental health problems in our society. We have a major opioid epidemic in our city and around the country.”
Hancock says he wants to address wages, criminal justice and social inequity.
“We’re seeing some of that in Denver and that’s why in a third term I really believe it’s about a great diverse and equitable economy the wage, increasing in Denver, with criminal justice reform, with better jobs, job training, job placement. In our new economy, that’s going to be necessary for people to become better and greater participants in this new economy.”
There are nine other candidates in the race for mayor. The election is scheduled for May with a runoff in June if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote.
Hancock is sure to face questions about a controversy uncovered during his second term over past texts to a female member of his security team in 2012. Hancock called it a “valuable lesson” and pointed out that he has apologized for it, but has said he doesn’t believe it rose to the level of sexual harassment.
“I made a very bad mistake. And I apologized for it, I acknowledged it. I did not know at the time that she felt the way she felt about it. We got different signals in terms of how she felt about it, but that’s why I apologized.”
The city will continue to change the beliefs with artificial intelligence and automation.
“Denver needs to remain in front of that puck, not reacting to it, but in front of that puck in terms of creating a smart city with technology that is everywhere so our cars can communicate, so we move traffic, so we can make sure that our mobility options are not an impediment but an opportunity.”
He also hopes experience in office will benefit him, looking ahead to what could be a slowdown in the economy many experts believe is ahead in 2019.
“The person in the administration that knows this budget and knows the city operations best are going to be in the best position to make sure we react appropriately.”