Apr 19, 2023 - Politics

What Denver's Black leaders expect from the next mayor

University of Colorado Regent Wanda James speaks with former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb on April 18 in the city's Park Hill neighborhood. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

Black community leaders say improving public safety and supporting local businesses should be priorities for the next mayor.

Yes, but: Former Mayor Wellington Webb cautioned Black voters in Denver aren't a monolith when asked by Axios if there were specific issues the community wants to see the city's next mayor tackle.

  • Webb spoke at the Park Hill Golf Course Tuesday during an event announcing his endorsement of Kelly Brough in June's runoff.

What they're saying: "Whoever is the next mayor is going to have to sit down with us … It will be about whether you can make a difference and have a relationship with our community," John Bailey, chair of the Colorado Black Round Table, tells us. He's supporting Mike Johnston for mayor.

  • Former state lawmaker Wilma Webb, who like her husband is backing Brough, said Black residents have "unique" problems requiring a mayor to pay close attention, including the safety of young Black men, who face higher rates of gun violence.

The intrigue: University of Colorado Regent Wanda James, founder and CEO of Simply Pure Dispensary, tells us she would like the city's next mayor to focus on supporting small businesses.

  • Both Bailey and James, who's supporting Brough, said creating job opportunities is pivotal for the next mayor.
  • James pointed out that the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America is Black women, but people of color need access to capital and employee retention to build businesses.

What's next: New Hope Baptist Church Family Life Center is hosting a Black community forum for municipal candidates on Saturday. It will focus on public safety, youth development, affordable housing and homelessness.

  • The event runs from 10am to noon.

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