Denver city council member Michael Hancock is vying to become his city’s next mayor. He and former state senator Chris Romer were the top two vote getters in a May 3 general election and now face each other in a run-off election that will be decided on June 7. So far, Hancock has a slight lead over Romer at 41 percent to 37 percent.
If elected, Hancock would become the second African-American elected to serve as Denver’s mayor. The first was Wellington Webb, who won the office in 1991 and served three terms.
Former state senator Peter Groff believes that Hancock could very well win. As a councilman and former head of the local Urban League, Hancock has developed strong relationships with the city’s business leaders and helped to forge partnerships between groups that had not previously worked together. The city has a small African-American population, but Hancock has built a strong base among young voters and Latinos, who make up 40 percent of the population.
He also has won key endorsements from Latino leaders, several of his fellow council members and former Gov. Bill Ritter.
“During my 12 years as Denver's district attorney and my tenure as governor, Michael has built relationships from City Hall to China to help the Mile High City thrive,” Ritter said when he announced his support. “I trust his leadership and judgment. He understands how the city works and how to get things done.”
According to Groff, while Denver’s economy hasn’t suffered as much as other cities’ have, the city is in need of reinvention. It has remade itself before, from cow town to oil town to high tech, and leaders are struggling to figure out what industry will be the next be job creator. He said that Hancock is an “innovative thinker” who can help prepare the city for its next remaking.
Hancock has said that during his first 100 days in office he would develop a comprehensive strategy to recruit new businesses and jobs to the city that would include a particular focus on clean energy companies.
First, however, both Hancock and Romer have got their jobs cut out for them getting people to vote again. For the first time in the city’s history, machines won’t be used to cast ballots. Instead, voters will mail or drop off their ballots at a drop-off center. If the final count is as close as the two candidates are now polling, that could make things interesting. At least there won’t be any hanging chads that many to this day say enabled George W. Bush to beat Vice President Al Gore in 2000.
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