Jun 7, 2022 - Politics

Progressives look to shake up Denver City Council

From left: Tiffany Caudill, Shannon Hoffman and Sarah Parady. Photos courtesy of the candidates

A new slate of progressive Denver candidates will test how far to the left the city will shift in the next two years.

State of play: Three first-time city council candidates are running on a progressive platform, focusing on issues and policies that put them on the leftward side of their own party.

  • Tiffany Caudill and Shannon Hoffman are challenging incumbents in southwest District 2 and central District 10, respectively, while Sarah Parady is seeking an open at-large seat in the April 2023 municipal elections.
  • In the June 28 Democratic primary, state legislative candidate Elisabeth Epps, known for her criminal justice advocacy, is vying for the party's nomination for House District 6 against Katie March, a former Democratic caucus staffer.

Why it matters: In Democratic-controlled Denver, the shade of blue matters.

  • These two elections will indicate whether upstart, liberal candidates can defeat the veteran, establishment Democrats.
  • If elected, they would join council member Candi CdeBaca, the most progressive elected official in city office.

What they're saying: Paul Teske, public affairs dean at CU Denver, said the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder, and an increase in homelessness and crime rates are what progressive candidates will likely concentrate on.

  • "I feel like there is just a more understanding and focus that these issues are important," Teske told Axios Denver.

Of note: Denver municipal elections are nonpartisan, but all 13 current city council members vote Democrat.

What to watch: The newcomer candidates say they want to shift attention away from businesses and corporations, and place it squarely on the people electing them.

  • Caudill said her priority is policies that shrink the gap between the wealthy and poor. "In order to fix that, we have to start building better ties with the community," Caudill told Axios Denver.
  • Hoffman said the party's establishment candidates prioritize keeping their seat and power over doing "what is just and good for the majority of people."
  • Parady pledged to pay attention to marginalized communities and not letting "money being able to do what it wants."

The bottom line: History suggests newcomers face uphill battles.

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