DENVER (CBS4)– Supporters of Denver mayoral candidate Jamie Giellis say they’re standing by her despite a string of slip-ups. The controversy started when Giellis went on the Brother Jeff webcast in Five Points and drew a blank when asked what the NAACP was.
She then deleted her personal social media accounts after a racially insensitive remark surfaced. And, she decided a “tacos and lowriders” fundraiser at a Mexican restaurant was okay.
Even incumbent Denver Mayor Michael Hancock had to wonder if she was trying to sabotage her own campaign, “What disturbs me… is really the pattern of cultural and racial insensitivities that seem to be a part of Jamie Giellis’ life.”
But former opponents Lisa Calderon and Penfield Tate — who stressed diversity when endorsing Giellis — are defending her. They released a statement saying she is “taking full responsibility,” will “re-double her effort and commitment to serving the black community”… and “ensuring that African Americans… Have a seat at the policy making table.”
Hancock suggests Calderon and Tate are simply against him, not for Giellis.
“This just tells you it’s personal. It’s never been about the politics. It’s never been about the work of civil rights.”
Many voters are just beginning to tune in to this race, a race that’s garnered little media until now. Now, it’s making headlines and they’re not good for Giellis.
Political analyst Eric Sonderman says it will difficult for Giellis to recover, “The town knows Michael Hancock. They know his strengths. They know his warts. They know how to process that. They do not know Jamie Giellis and so one of the first concrete pieces of information they get about here is this incident.”
Hancock says that information is telling, “Denver is beginning to see a little of who she is and the danger she presents to us as a city and the progress and the unity that we have in this city and the opportunities we have going forward.”
CBS4 requested interviews with Giellis, Calderon and Tate. All of them would only release statements. Giellis’ campaign says she needs to direct her time and energy toward listening to community members and organizing a discussion about the state of the black community in Denver.
She and Hancock are set to participate in an event with the Colorado Black Round Table this Saturday.
Full Statement from Lisa Calderon and Penfield Tate:
“Every public official should know the history and contributions of such an esteemed historic civil rights institution as the NAACP. We appreciate Jamie Giellis taking full responsibility for her recent statements and not making excuses, which will be a refreshing change from the current administration.
Jamie will re-double her effort and commitment to serving the Black community and all historically marginalized communities in Denver by spelling out a specific agenda to rebuild Black community wealth, which has been depleted over the past eight years under the current mayor.
Jamie’s agenda will be key to reversing the high rate of displacement resulting from economic and housing disinvestment — consistent concerns we’ve heard loud and clear on the campaign trail, particularly from Black community members.
We are committed to working with Jamie to develop and implement an agenda to increase economic opportunity, including investment in Black-owned businesses, which comprise only 1.5% of the city’s contracts currently under a Black mayor.
We are not only committed to accountability of our public officials, but also to ensuring that African Americans who have been left out of the prosperity of Denver have a seat at the policy-making table, starting with a frank conversation with the community about race, culture and history that will include Jamie and her leadership team. These are the steps we are taking to #UniteDenver.
Representation matters. Building a diverse leadership team under a new administration is critically important, and a publicly stated priority for Jamie. As part of her volunteer transition team, we look forward to identifying and recommending fresh voices for leadership opportunities in city government — rather than just recycling the same insiders for select lucrative appointments, which is so common with the current administration.
We hope the same kind of outcry about Jamie not knowing the historic significance of the NAACP extends to an even louder outcry against the high rate of displacement and economic inequity African Americans in Denver have experienced over the past eight years.
We further hope that we hold all public officials to a higher standard of accountability for their cultural and gender competence, including the current mayor.
When we do so, we all promote the mission of the NAACP “to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.”