May 2, 2023 - Politics

Denver City Council will have a record number of Latinas

From left: Incoming Denver City Council members Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, Flor Alvidrez and Diana Romero Campbell. Photos: Courtesy of the councilmembers

Flor Alvidrez spent the days after her opponent Nick Campion conceded waiting for him to change his mind. But he never did, making her the district 7 representative on the Denver City Council.

State of play: Alvidrez's victory means the city council will have six Latinas on the dais — one more than the previous record set after the 2019 election, according to spokesperson Robert Austin.

Why it matters: Their victories demonstrate the immense strides made by Latinas over the past 10 years, and could shift the council's legislative priorities.

Driving the news: Three Latina members won reelection last month, while three new faces will join them.

  • Alvidrez will join Diana Romero Campbell and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez as first-timers, while Stacie Gilmore, Amanda Sandoval and Jamie Torres will return.

What they're saying: "It feels so big, it's hard to process it all," Alvidrez, who grew up in the Athmar Park neighborhood, tells us.

  • "The impact — to be able to influence the trajectory the city is going to take — is tremendous and I feel a great responsibility," Romero Campbell said.

Between the lines: Alvidrez, who identifies as Mexican American with Indigenous ancestry, says she got supportive messages from people in her father's hometown near Santa Bárbara in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

The intrigue: Romero Campbell, who has a Mexican and New Mexican background, tells us the new council members show "representation matters."

  • But she noted it also reflects that even among Latino communities, there are differences in how people approach policy.
  • Their political stances differ slightly: Alvidrez calls herself a progressive Democrat, while Romero Campbell describes herself as an "incremental progressive" with moderate leanings.

Zoom in: Despite sharing a cultural background, Alvidrez and Romero Campbell have different priorities for their districts, which fall on opposite sides of the city.

  • Alvidrez wants to focus on improving the environment for folks living near the highway, avoiding displacement, and reconsidering how the city decides how people qualify for income-restricted housing.
  • Romero Campbell, who will represent far southeast Denver, said housing, public safety and providing resources for senior adults are top priorities.

Reality check: "They have a huge challenge," Justine Sandoval, a local political consultant, tells us. "Denver's changed so much, and a lot of issues our communities are fighting for look different from neighborhood to neighborhood."

The big picture: Nationwide, women are still underrepresented, holding less than a third of municipal offices, according to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP).

Yes, but: Colorado is among the states not following the trend, with women holding 44.3% of municipal offices in the state, tied with Nevada for second in the country.

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