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Lisa Calderón at her office in Five Points. Photo by Sarah Boyum

Denver’s Mayoral Candidates 2019: Lisa Calderón

One of the mayor's most vocal opponents with years of experience in activism, Calderón helped organize the "Time's Up Hancock" rally a year ago. Now, she wants to bring equity, fairness, and justice back to the city's highest elected office.

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Age: 51
Experience: Regis University professor, Colorado Latino Forum co-chair, criminal justice advocate, and Community Reentry Project director
Action Plan: Create more independent agencies (like the Office of the Independent Monitor), give more control to City Council, appoint a labor union liaison to executive cabinet level, and strengthen sexual harassment policies


Why do you want to be mayor?

The decision wasn’t easy to come to actually. Unlike other candidates who are groomed for public office—oftentimes men—it was nothing I was groomed toward or even aspired to….The candidates that I was looking at were not fully reflective of the values that I felt were important to me as someone who was born and raised here….It felt like a lot of the issues that were impacting working families were not really being heard.

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What is the first thing you’d try to do in office?

First, I’d change the previous administration’s appointees, because I think it is important to send a signal to the voters of Denver who elected me that we will be doing business differently.

What’s Denver doing well?

What’s positive are the things that we love, that we want to preserve. The beauty of our city. The mountain views….I also believe that we do have a compassionate city. It’s not always reflected in our current city administration, so I want to tap into the compassion of Denverites and what attracted them here in the first place.

What’s your plan for working with other cities in the metro area?

People are transitory. That’s what human beings do: They go back and forth across boundaries. And if Denver doesn’t come to terms with its homelessness crisis and its snarled traffic, it pushes it out to our regions and we know that they are feeling them. We need to be able to sit down with our partners in a much more productive way.

Who has been a role model for you?

Starting [at] the age of four years old, my mom had me on my first picket line boycotting grapes and lettuce for supporting the migrant farm workers union. She basically instilled in me that even though we were poor and didn’t have a lot, we still had our voices and our bodies and that means that we could speak for those who couldn’t. It really instilled in me a sense of obligation.

One more thought:

On sexual harassment allegations against Mayor Michael Hancock: I have been approached by so many women who have been offended by this mayor’s conduct and said, ‘You know, we know what sexual harassment is.’ So it is deeply concerning to have the most powerful person in this city denying that his conduct against a subordinate was inappropriate. If he was in a business setting, he’d be fired. So if it is not ethical for business, why is it ethical for government?

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