Denver Elects a Black Mayor

Michael Hancock is the second African-American chosen to lead the city.

Posted: 06/08/2011 05:00 AM EDT
Michael Hancock

Mayor-elect Michael Hancock celebrates his victory over Chris Romer. Former Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb stands on left. (Photo: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

Denver city councilman Michael Hancock handily defeated his opponent Chris Romer in the race to become the city’s 45th mayor, making him the second African-American to be elected to that post. As of Tuesday night, he led Romer by a margin of 56.6 percent to 43.4 percent. Hancock will be sworn into office on July 18.

“Today I am stronger than when I started this race. I’m no stranger to challenges. No one expected a poor kid from Northeast Denver to become a city councilman. And 16 months ago, no one gave us much of a chance to be standing here tonight,” the mayor-elect said in his victory speech. “I’m grateful, beyond words, for the opportunities I’ve had to lift myself up, and for the people who never gave up on me. Our city holds great promise for all its people. With a vision of a better future, it is time we lift our city up on our shoulders and carry it forward.”

Former Colorado state senator Peter Groff, who shares a close personal relationship with Hancock, told that remaining steadfast on the issues and running a positive campaign gave Hancock the edge.

“People knew exactly where he stood. Romer waivered a couple of times on some pretty key issues and wasn’t able to keep a constant drumbeat,” Groff said. “And in the end, negative campaigning really hurt him.”

Now, the hard work begins. Some of the challenges Hancock will need to immediately address include economic development and stability, creating synergies between his office and the city’s school board and districts and building constituent trust in the Office of Public Safety after a string of police brutality issues, Groff explained.

Throughout his campaign, Hancock has touted his 100-day plan to recruit new business and jobs to Denver, create an education compact, deliver a balanced budget by September 1 and restore public trust in the city’s police department, and he reiterated this to supporters Tuesday night.

“We start tomorrow to engage our entire community as we move with urgent resolve for Denver’s future. We start tomorrow to find the best, the brightest, the most committed for our city and make sure every voice is at the table,” Hancock said. “We start tomorrow to improve our schools in every neighborhood and give everyone a chance to succeed. A chance like I had when I was that young kid who wanted to be the first Black mayor of Denver.”

The new mayor probably thinks second is looking pretty good right about now.