Both former Secretary and US Senator Ken Salazar and former Mayor of Denver and Secretary Federico Pena have announced their support for former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran in her quest to oust U.S. Representative Diana DeGette who has served 12 terms representing Denver. The winds of change are upon a new generation of Latino leaders and this time it is Latinas that are front and center.
However, that event is set for next year and we have more immediate things to do including an election for Denver Mayor coming up in less than 30 days. This is the political event of the year for the citizens of our great city.
The city is in danger of becoming a place that we no longer recognize. Some years back, Latino leaders especially from the north side, sounded the alarm about the issue of gentrification and the fact that the names of our neighborhoods were being changed in order to make them more attractive to the new residents.
As it turned out, that was the least of the disrespect inflicted on our neighborhoods. Have you taken time to drive by and see the box-like structures that have replaced our homes and stand as monuments to expediency and a quick buck?
I have seen a couple of houses bought by developers that then tore them down in order to construct a complex of these “boxes” and some with no provisions for parking. I point this out as an example of a planned takeover by corporate entities that have bought their way into the priorities of our city’s public servants.
The fact that we have an African American Mayor should not be a reason for exclusion from accountability because the Black community is also suffering from top-down planning and management of resources for our neighborhoods. Just like there is a need for change in our congressional district, it is also time for a change in our city leadership.
When Pena came out of obscurity to convince us to “Imagine a Great City” and then went on to built it with few resources, he proved that vision, creativity and hard work can carry the day. It appears that we are in the same kind of crossroads this election.
The list of challengers to Mayor Hancock is long and includes Penfield Tate III, Stephen Evans, Paul Fiorino, Marcus Giavanni, Jamie Giellis, Kalyn Hefferman, Leatha Scott, Ken Simpson and Lisa Calderon. It is Calderon, an Afro-Latina that offers a decentralized Mayor’s office that begins its strategy for change at the neighborhood level.
On the subject of race, I was once asked about how Latinos as a majority community might seek to resolve the long-standing issue of Black and White relationship that has so far defied accommodation. My response was that Latinos have a history of absorbing all races into its blood and cultural outlook.
Diversity in the current slate of candidates coming forward speaks to the desire to find solutions to our current dilemma from a variety of points of view. The voter has a rich list of candidates from which to select.
It is clear that the Denver city government leadership has lost its way as a result of a great movement of people into its boundaries and the accompanying economic pressures that has tempted officials into bad decisions. This municipal election represents an opportunity to clear the field and find dynamic leadership again.
As has been said many times before in response to challenges, “Si se puede.”