Monday, April 9, 2007

Profile: Waldo Benevidez (CD9)

Waldo Benevidez has been running for City Council for a long time. Decades, in fact. As a historian, I recently reviewed some old Denver newspapers for information about this candidate and discovered dozens of articles. Below are some excerpts from the archives.

In 1991, Benevidez ran for the City Council District 9 seat against incumbent Deborah Ortega, Gary Castillo and Joe Herrera.
Denver Post, March 30, 1991

...Benavidez, a 51-year-old Democrat who works as executive director of the Auraria Community Center, calls dispersed housing "social engineering. ... I don't think the Denver Housing Authority should be in the business of buying single-family homes.

...On other issues, Benavidez said he's against a subsidy for a convention center headquarters hotel.

And he thinks the large retail project proposed by the city's urban renewal agency for downtown should be replaced by a plan calling for shops that would appeal more to students and downtown workers.

Rocky Mountain News, May 9, 1991

... District 9. Incumbent Debbie Ortega may be steamrolling toward another term, but challengers Waldo Benavidez, Joe Herrera, and Gary Castillo are mounting spirited attacks. Our favorite is Wally Benavidez, whose pro-business ideas include selling off Winter Park and investing the profits in more beneficial projects. While the conventional wisdom says it's Ortega all the way, Benavidez's ideas promise greater development in the Ninth.

Then in 1996 he ran for Colorado House District 2 against Gloria Leyba. Leyba was initially left off the ballot for failure to file the necessary paperwork in time. Leyba was elated in the article below when a federal judge ruled in her favor.
Denver Post, June 26, 1996

...Benavidez was less enthused.

"I don't think it's right that the judge should put her on the ballot," he said from his home. "She didn't get her papers in on time because she was too busy trying to keep me off the ballot."

After Benavidez won a spot on the ballot through a petition drive, Leyba challenged some of his petitions last month, but Buckley dismissed the challenge.

In the end, Gloria Leyba won with 71%: 2,445 total votes against Benavidez's 980. He ran again in 2004, and again encountered issues with the ballot.
Rocky Mountain News, June 29, 2004

A Denver man hoping to run for a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives failed to submit sufficient signatures to make the August primary, a state election official ruled Monday.

But Waldo Benavidez, executive director of the Auraria Community Center, said he intends to challenge that finding in court and is not giving up.

"As long as my name is on the ballot, I'm going to campaign," said Benavidez, 65.

Deputy Secretary of State William Hobbs ruled Benavidez lacked sufficient signatures on petitions to participate in the primary, falling 19 short of the 579 names needed to become a Democratic candidate in Denver House District 2.

...Benavidez initially was placed on the ballot when state election officials ruled 733 of the 1,037 signatures that he submitted were valid.

However, Hobbs struck 173 more, leaving Benavidez with only 560 valid signatures - 19 short of what he needed.

The bulk of the signatures rejected - 158 names - were tossed out because they were obtained by two petition circulators who were declared not to be residents of the district. as required by law.

Denver Post, August 6, 2004

Democrat Waldo Benavidez is putting on a conservative hat and challenging incumbent Rep. Mike Cerbo for the Democratic nomination to represent state House District 2, which includes Denver's west side.

Benavidez, executive director of the Auraria Community Center, and Cerbo, a union official with the Hotel & Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union, are the Democratic primary candidates.

Support for school vouchers could make Benavidez a stranger in his own party, but he said families in his district deserve school choice and higher-quality education.

"Parents are upset with how their kids are being treated in the public school system, and school choice is an alternative," said Benavidez, who started a group a few years ago for parents in west Denver to push for vouchers. High dropout and expulsion rates in the public schools in his district are a problem, Benavidez said.

But Cerbo argues that K-12 education has already been squeezed enough.

...Benavidez has had a roller- coaster ride to get on the ballot by petition. The secretary of state's office first ruled in June that he did not have enough signatures. A Denver judge then ruled in July that all votes cast for Benavidez in Tuesday's primary would be counted.

In the end, Cerbo won re-election with 65% of the vote. Benavidez received 1,246 votes. By 2006, Benevidez was in the middle of the immigration debate.

Denver Post, January 5, 2006

[Defend Colorado Now] are here to introduce an anti-illegal-immigration initiative that will probably be on the ballot in 2006.

One of the group's leaders, former Gov. Dick Lamm, lends the debate intellectual firepower and left-wing credibility. His "liberal case" to control the border is a well-crafted argument against "illegal immigration," not "the illegal immigrant."

Defend Colorado Now's initiative would amend the state's constitution to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving publicly funded services that are "not required under the law."

Question: If Colorado is already "not required under the law" to provide these welfare-state services, what's the purpose of the initiative?

Why not just follow the law?

"It's a mandate," Lamm explained. He expects the passage will send a message to legislators that Colorado voters are getting impatient. "Listen. Voters matter."

Unfortunately for Lamm, his arguments were corroded by the presence of another leader of his group, Waldo Benavidez, director of the Auraria Community Center.

We've seen the ugly underbelly of the isolationist, right-wing crowd - and, no, not everyone who is concerned about illegal immigration falls in this category - but wait until you hear the left-wing case for closed borders as presented by Benavidez.

There is no other way to say this: Benavidez's rhetoric was two parts nonsense and one part paranoia, sprinkled liberally with economic illiteracy. Benavidez threw so many inane anti-business clich├ęs around that, by the end of the speech, you had to wonder why any Mexicans would risk their lives coming to this dreadful country.

Other than to sell us drugs, of course, in Benavidez's world., April 28, 2006

“Enough is enough,” said Waldo Benavidez, a Denver social service agency director and leader of the ballot measure. “I’m tired of people protesting in our streets demanding rights that they’re not entitled to.

“This initiative is the first volley of Colorado citizens fighting back,” he said. “It’s about preserving our way of life. In the final analysis, it is all about cheap labor and denying the middle class their piece of the American dream.”

For more information, visit Defend Colorado Now.

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