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A Guide to Denver’s 2019 Runoff Election

Ballots are in the mail and the much-anticipated June 4 runoff election is heating up. Here's what you need to know.

Denver City and County Building. Photo courtesy of Kevin Galens / Flickr via Creative Commons.

If you thought the May 7 municipal election would bring clarity to who will run this city, you were wrong.

When ballots were counted, of the 16 elected positions on the ballot, seven races didn’t produce a clear winner (meaning no candidate earned more than 50 percent of the vote). The exception was the at-large City Council race, where the top two finishers were elected; in this case, incumbents Deborah Ortega and Robin Kniech will return to city hall.

There were some clear victors on May 7, including city auditor Timothy O’Brien, City Council incumbents Kendra Black (District 4), Jolon Clark (District 7), Kevin Flynn (District 2), Stacie Gilmore (District 11), Chris Herndon (District 8), and Paul Kashmann (District 6). Denver voters also approved the decriminalization of  psilocybin mushroom use and possession and resoundingly defeated Initiated Ordinance 300, known as the “Right to Survive” initiative, which would have effectively overturned Denver’s camping ban for people facing homelessness.

But that leaves several races headed to a runoff on June 4 (ballots will be mailed this week). Peg Perl and Paul López will faceoff in the clerk and recorder race, and two open City Council seats are up for grabs. In District 1, which encompasses parts of northwest Denver, Amanda Sandoval will face Mike Somma. In District 3, voters will pick between Jamie Torres and Veronica Barela (only 261 votes separated them in the first round).

Incumbents face challenges in three districts. Mary Beth Susman, who has served two terms on Council, will attempt to gain ground back from attorney Amanda Sawyer, who led in District 5 after the initial election. In District 9, a hotspot for conversations about the city’s growth, 286 votes separated political newcomer Candi CdeBaca and incumbent Albus Brooks. Neighborhood activist Chris Hinds will take on incumbent Wayne New in District 10.

Voters will also weigh in on Initiative 302, which if passed would effectively prevent Denver officials from spending tax payer money in pursuit of future Olympic bids without first gaining approval from voters—the latest chapter in what has been a complicated saga for the Mile High City.

And, of course, there is the mayoral race. If you’ve spent a second on social media recently, you already know the matchup between Michael Hancock and Jamie Giellis is dominating headlines. Don’t worry: We’ve got that covered, too. Stay tuned here for more updates as ballots land in your mailboxes, races heat up, and Denver (finally) picks its new leadership team.

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