May 25, 2023 - Politics

What's at stake in the Denver City Council runoff elections

Illustration of a check mark being drawn in front of the Denver City and County Building facade in the colors of the city flag.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Three Denver council races in the June 6 runoff election pit mainstream Democrats against progressive candidates looking to shift power in the city for the next four years.

State of play: The 13-member Denver City Council will feature five new faces in July, and the final three seats remain undecided after no candidate won a majority in the April election.

  • The council's direction will depend on the mood of voters in districts 8, 9 and 10 — covering neighborhoods spanning downtown Denver toward Central Park and Montbello.
  • The high stakes are leading developers and moneyed interests to pour cash into supporting moderate candidates, while progressive organizations are rallying their members to support Democratic Socialist-aligned candidates.

Why it matters: The winners will help determine how Denver approaches major issues, such as crime, homelessness and affordability, largely on whether to rely on the public or private sector.

The intrigue: Incumbent Candi CdeBaca, a progressive leader representing District 9 and a polarizing figure on the council, is leading the charge but faces her own challenger in the most watched and most expensive race against Darrell Watson.

What they're saying: "The theme [in the runoff election] is: Do we want our Denver City Council to look more like the Denver school board? That's the level of dysfunction that Candi CdeBaca and the slate she brings forward brings to City Council," Watson told John.

The other side: The lack of affordability and widening income gap in Denver demand change, progressives contend.

  • "I think you have a choice between people who are embedded in their communities … and then you have on the other hand a group of candidates who are very well funded by developers," countered Shannon Hoffman, who is challenging incumbent Chris Hinds.

Go deeper … 1-minute voter guides on District 8, District 9 and District 10

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