Thursday, March 15, 2007

Candidate forum at Denver Young Democrats meeting

TakeBackTheHouse has provided a terrific first-hand account of a recent candidates forum hosted by the Denver Young Democrats. I highly encourage you to read the entire article at SquareState, but include excerpts below for your convenience.

First came the Mayor:
He pointed towards future issues such as global warming as a place where simple changes on the municipal level could have ripples of impact. "Even if there is a 2% chance that 95% of leading scientists are right, we'd be insane not to spend billions." He didn't propose any billion dollar programs, but he did point to increasing the City's tree canopy as a way that we could have a real impact on the use of domestic and automotive air conditioners. The solutions he was looking for on all topics; environmental change, crime, etc. were ones where you were "not just throwing money at the problem," but ones that led to intelligent solutions. Putting more police on the streets was obviously a large contributor to Denver's 2006 10% drop in crime, but so too was the implementation of new systems that chart the hot spots in real time and help plan the new deployments.

Michael Hancock then followed:
He told us to be prepared to make some difficult decisions, and to decide if we were, "ready to pay more for a better managed government." He said that his constituents tended to make good decisions when given good information, but we have, "lost our way on some issues that are very very very germane to being Democrats." He encouraged the young crowd to become an army ready to knock on doors and to go around the media and the national organizations and find out again what changes the people really wanted in the neighborhoods. He looked around the room at all the hopeful candidates and said he had no doubt all of them were able to do the job, but wondered if all of them could look the people in the eye and make the hard decisions.

Doug Linkhart offered brief remarks about returning Denver to being a "shining example of Democratic values.":
After joking that he remembered what Denver politics was like back when he would march with Sojourner Truth, he said that this race today was mistakenly called 'non-partisan'. He said that it was very partisan, but that we were all on the same side. Aligned against us were the challenges we were facing.

Rick Garcia then spoke:
The very popular Councilman spoke of the great economic advantage brought to our businesses by foreign born residents, and how the research and policy dynamics in this region were changing with 12,000 people per day turning 60 years old.

Then came Clerk & Recorder candidate, Stephanie O'Malley:
She wants to be at the helm of the new office because, "It's no one's place to disenfranchise anyone from casting a vote." Obviously, conduct of the elections will be a large part of her role, but the Clerk's office also deals with many other issues. Increased foreclosures mean increased documentation flow. She says she intends to prepare the office to meet the statutory requirements of the greater workload, and improve accessibility by moving the old paper and microfiche documents into electronic form.

The narrator unfortunately missed the presentations of Kevin Slevin (write-in candidate for Clerk and Recorder) and Danny Lopez (mayoral candidate).
While you are at it, someone tell me where Paige Wolf came from. She is managing the campaign for Carol Boigon, and she has ~wunderkind~ written all over her. She is young, charismatic, and smart, so of course I am instantly suspicious. She made a very able surrogate for the Councilwoman-at-Large, and ran through her employer's accomplishments, including the redevelopment of the Lowenstein Theater into the Tattered Cover Bookstore. My job has me constantly researching the Council Members, and Boigon has easily the most interesting corners. She supports working family issues and development interests, her donors include labor, community leaders, and her husband's large oil company law firm buddies. I do not envy her having to appeal to the amazing clutter of an At-Large seat.

After a staffer for District 5 Councilwoman Marcia Johnson said a few words, two challengers were invited to speak:
R. J. Ours, a former government relations director for the American Cancer Society, spoke of building coalitions and investing in infrastructure. He said if we were going to spend, "three quarter of a billion of your tax dollars, I want the best price, best projects, and the best quality." He spoke of his work on Amendment 35 which increased the tobacco tax, and he advocated for smoke free casinos.

There was another candidate for District 5. He called himself a 'property rights advocate' and called for the abolishment of historic preservation designations. He talked about his experience in the 'energy infrastructure business.'

Then came Julie Connor for District 7:
As aide to the outgoing Mackenzie, she has the right to claim she represents a continuity of knowledge. Like my favorite candidates in the municipal elections she is an unashamed lover of provincial politics. Zoning issues, potholes, overlay districts; she loves that stuff.

Finally came the candidates for the District 8 City Council seat [it should be noted that although the description of all candidates seems exceedingly fair, the author of this account is himself a Darrell Watson supporter]:
First up was the very accessible Carla Madison. She shares Darrell Watson and Julie Conner's love for urban policy. She spoke about her work with the zoning code and about increasing density on the corridors of neighborhoods while preserving the character within them. She proposed a good idea about establishing a Senior Advocacy Hotline, and she finished with a statement that sounded a bit darkly cryptic, "Welton St. is sad. The 16th St. Mall is ailing. There are a lot of reasons. I won't go into why that is."

Greg Rasheed opened with a song. Really. "Helloooo Young Democraats wherever you arrrre. I hope yooou willlll vote for meeeeee..." Really. He sang. Then he talked about gang issues. Coming out of a childhood surrounded by gang culture he wants to "give young people hope." Part of that is starting a 'Youth Advisor Council'. "I'm not looking for the A students. I'm looking for the hard heads." He spoke about students, "already being earmarked not to pass."

....After a long day and too many speakers, I was ready to take a nap, but with incredible energy [Darrell Watson] moved around the room and woke people up. "Who here, who in this corner right here, which of you thinks City Government should work for you?" Darrell did, and he explained his vision for a 'City that Works'. Darrell can cover a lot of territory in two minutes; culture of the neighborhoods, economic development, safety, broken windows, bike lanes, advocacy for the people... but obviously you can't get into detail on anything in that time. So instead of just keeping it vague and running off, he stuck around for a long while to answer all the questions. An evening that started with a room full of politicians ended with a room full of active Young Democrats and a candidate interested in helping them make the city a little better.

Again, I highly recommend that you read the full account at


Anonymous said...

I also attended this meeting.
Darell Watson reminded me of a republican asking "why do you hate America" to someone who does not support the war.
I am not in his district and I grew tired of his spoon feed rhetoric quickly.
The "Who here, who in this corner right here, which of you thinks City Government should work for you?" was really lame. He seemed to try to 'energize' with meaningless phrases instead of intelligent conversation.
Carla Madison really impressed me, I thought she gave knowledgeable insightful answers. We were mostly an intelligent educated crowd, and we want to hear intelligent answers. Not the same old rhetoric.
Did we go to the same meeting?

Dave Burrell said...

I wasn't there, so I can't respond to this posting. You may be right about the tenor of the discussion. But I do think it's hard to have a good conversation when folks are simply Anonymous, and am concerned about anonymous flames from all sides of these debates (which are sure to get more heated over the next few months).

Would you mind identifying yourself? It shouldn't be necessary for off-the-cuff thoughts, but to have a conversation we really need a sense of which person is saying what. Even if they hide behind psuedonyms, we'll soon gain a sense of the perspective of various users.

Annd this way, no one can take potshots without putting at least a little of themselves out there. That's why the blog settings now only allow registered users to comment.

It shouldn't be hard. Registration is free, after all, and Blogger is the largest such site in the world. And then we can have a real conversation about matters that really are important.