Jul 23, 2021 - Politics
The next move to weaken Denver's strong mayor
A photo of Denver City Hall
Denver city hall. Photo: John Greim/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

City Council's crusade continues in an effort to chip away at the power of the Denver mayor system, one of the strongest in the state.

What's happening: A proposal is moving forward that would revoke the mayor's appointing power over the independent monitor — the city's police watchdog — and reinstate it under the Citizens Oversight Board.

  • The board consists of nine appointed community members picked by the mayor and city council who currently oversee how effectively the monitor does their job.

Why it matters: The decision could come down to Denver voters. If City Council passes the proposal in mid-August, the measure will require a change to the city's charter and a sign-off from residents on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Context: It's the latest in a series of moves carried out by the council to roll back the mayor's power.

  • Last November, voters passed three council-backed ballot measures that stripped the strength of the executive branch. None were supported by the Hancock administration.
  • The mayor's spokesperson Mike Strott told Axios the office was reviewing this proposal.

What they're saying: To "call the Office of the Independent Monitor 'independent,' they really do need to have independence from elected officials determining their status [and] their ability to do their job, which is a very difficult one," council member and proposal sponsor Jamie Torres said in a committee meeting Thursday.

  • "We already manage the effectiveness of the job, so this is just another step in ensuring that the COB will be responsible" for the independent monitor, COB chairman Al Gardner told Axios.

Yes, but: Although many police reform advocates agree the independent monitor should be removed from under the mayor's appointment, some say it should be rehoused under the City Council.

  • "They answer to the voters … so that ensures a certain level of accountability," Robert Davis, the head of a local task force to reimagine policing, told Westword.

The bottom line: No matter whether the mayor or the COB holds the appointing power, their nominee will still require confirmation from the City Council.

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