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Christopher Herndon 

Q1

The lack of affordable housing remains a top concern of Denver residents, and while we commend the city on increasing resources, more needs to be done. If you agree that more resources are needed to support affordable housing, what type of funds and how much are necessary to address this crisis, and how could you achieve this within the next two to three years? 

 

I have worked hard during my last two terms to bring affordable housing to all areas of my district, and I will continue that work going forward. Affordability is one of the biggest challenges facing Denver and we need to provide good options for rent and for purchase. During the initial conversations about creating the affordable housing fund, I stressed that $150 million over 10 years was not sufficient and brought forward an alternative proposal that would’ve delivered more dollars sooner. I applaud the administration and my council colleagues for doubling the fund.

 

Q2

Transit and mobility remain a top city priority without a dedicated local source of funding. Would you support creating a dedicated source of annual funding for citywide investments in transit, mobility and Vision Zero safety improvements, and if yes, how much money do you think is needed to properly address this need, how would you allocate these funds and how would you propose to fund this?

 

We need to work with all stakeholders, and that includes the community and the RTD Board of Directors, to ensure that transit in Denver is serving the community. I have supported the creation of bike lanes throughout the city and dedicated lanes for Bus Rapid Transit along the Colfax Corridor. I am open to having a conversation about dedicated funds for transit.

 

Q3

In the November 2018 election, Denver voters approved a sales tax to increase the yearly investment in parks by more than $40 million. How would you ensure that acquiring land for new parks is done in an equitable way and does not compete with other pressing city priorities, such as acquiring land for affordable housing? 

 

As with all projects that the city undertakes, it is important that we receive input from stakeholders in the community. I do not believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach to development and allocation of park space. Like anything else, we should consider neighborhood context in parks planning.

 

Q4 

All In Denver was formed to respond to concerns that racial and social inequity is growing in the city. What do you think are the reasons that we have become a less equitable city and what are your priorities for ensuring Denver becomes more equitable in the future?

 

The benefits of the growth our city has experienced recently haven’t reached all our residents. East Colfax is an example of that. We need to focus efforts on those neighborhoods. We’re doing that with the East Area Plan, where we’re putting together plans for a thoughtful growth strategy in the area. We’re also investing there today - transforming 8315 East Colfax into a community-serving project. My office specifically invests in young people through my annual leadership program for high school students, Northeast Denver Leadership Week, that connects the with opportunities in the city.

Q5

Running a city the size of Denver is a massive undertaking with a complex web of services, departments, budgets and trade-offs. From your understanding of the city and how it allocates its resources, are there areas of the city that you’d increase funding and if so, what are they? And likewise, are there areas of the city where you’d decrease funding?

 

Denver City Council is responsible for approving the budget. As a body, we embark on a thorough budget process where we hear from city agencies and spend time as a body deciding if the dollars are best allocated. I believe, as a whole, the city does a good job of allocating the finite dollars.

Q6

Let’s assume that the City of Denver ends the 2019 fiscal year with a budget surplus of $20 million. As a Councilmember or Mayor, please list up to three program priorities on how you would spend this money. Please provide specific line items and budget amounts.

 

Allocate dollars to the planning, relocation and building a new police academy. Delivering composting services for free.

 

 

 

 

Image via denverite.com

Erik Penn

Q1

The lack of affordable housing remains a top concern of Denver residents, and while we commend the city on increasing resources, more needs to be done. If you agree that more resources are needed to support affordable housing, what type of funds and how much are necessary to address this crisis, and how could you achieve this within the next two to three years? 

Affordable housing is a national crisis. As the foundation for stability, housing is a necessity for upward mobility, safety, and security yet we leave such a vital part of people's lives up to market forces. I believe in learning from other's successes and mistakes and building on a system that can edge Denver residents out of this crisis. With an expected 200,000 additional people moving to Denver in the next 20 years, we must deal with supply and demand issues now. This includes ideas such as a vacancy tax, removing mandatory parking requirements, and researching rent control. 

 

(answer shortened to fit 600 character limit)

 

 

Q2

Transit and mobility remain a top city priority without a dedicated local source of funding. Would you support creating a dedicated source of annual funding for citywide investments in transit, mobility and Vision Zero safety improvements, and if yes, how much money do you think is needed to properly address this need, how would you allocate these funds and how would you propose to fund this?

 

I believe in a complete street model of city development along with rapid and consistent transit options. I would support creating a dedicated source of funding but would be cautious of the funding source. With a flurry of regressive sales taxes launched last November, the cost of living in Denver just got higher. I am a proponent of Denver developing a bank and utilizing it to generate revenue through interest rates that could go to citywide projects such as transit and mobility options. 

 

I believe the city needs a completed sidewalk network, integrated storm water and environmentally sound street development, 

 

(answer shortened to fit 600 character limit)

 

Q3

In the November 2018 election, Denver voters approved a sales tax to increase the yearly investment in parks by more than $40 million. How would you ensure that acquiring land for new parks is done in an equitable way and does not compete with other pressing city priorities, such as acquiring land for affordable housing? 

 

Affordable housing should not be low-quality housing. It should not put residents in forgotten, undesirable parts of town or in toxic or dangerous developing areas. Housing and green space need to go hand in hand. We have seen worldwide, innovative methods of integrating green space into housing developments. I believe in the idea of every neighborhood having a local pocket park along with larger community parks and believe the newly raised funds can help us tackle this challenge.

 

Q4 

All In Denver was formed to respond to concerns that racial and social inequity is growing in the city. What do you think are the reasons that we have become a less equitable city and what are your priorities for ensuring Denver becomes more equitable in the future?

 

Economic injustice has lead to Denver becoming less equitable. In absolute terms, from figures provided by the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household. Homeownership showed similar trends, with black and Latino households lagging behind. In such a strong economy, such as Denver's, wages are still low but costs are sky high and wealth building is slow if you did not already own a house or have a high paying job. 

 

(answer shortened to fit 600 character limit)

 

Q5

Running a city the size of Denver is a massive undertaking with a complex web of services, departments, budgets and trade-offs. From your understanding of the city and how it allocates its resources, are there areas of the city that you’d increase funding and if so, what are they? And likewise, are there areas of the city where you’d decrease funding?

 

A recent study purported that for every $1 spent by the IRS it yielded $6 in return. A 6:1 ratio is pretty good. I want to find areas in Denver where we are yielding the same kind of return, not only in dollars but in resident and family outcomes. We know cutting corners costs more in the long run and I rather spend city dollars based on outcomes and quality service rather than saving in the short term. 

 

I would like to see more money spent on corrections training and resources along with mental health and drug addiction treatment and housing first solutions to decrease the amount of money spent on utilizing our jails and paying out in lawsuits.

 

Q6

Let’s assume that the City of Denver ends the 2019 fiscal year with a budget surplus of $20 million. As a Councilmember or Mayor, please list up to three program priorities on how you would spend this money. Please provide specific line items and budget amounts.

Department of Public Health and Environment: $10 Million

Department of Human Services: $8 Million

Office of Children's Affairs: $2 Million

Image via pennfordenver.com

Heading 2

Blair Taylor

Q1

The lack of affordable housing remains a top concern of Denver residents, and while we commend the city on increasing resources, more needs to be done. If you agree that more resources are needed to support affordable housing, what type of funds and how much are necessary to address this crisis, and how could you achieve this within the next two to three years? 

 

One, increase the linkage fee relative to the the market. Right now on average it is about $1.50/sf and real estate is upwards of $200-300/sf. We need at least $10m to reduce the discrepancy and need. Two, developers have the choice to either build affordable units concurrently [relative to size of development] or transfer the funding to a land trust. Third, land bank any city or affiliated agency, like DPS, to be used towards affordable and worker-housing, especially around transit or high-frequency transit corridors. Housing, education, and transportation are all quality of life issues the city should be guiding. Above all, public housing must be tracked.

 

 

Q2

Transit and mobility remain a top city priority without a dedicated local source of funding. Would you support creating a dedicated source of annual funding for citywide investments in transit, mobility and Vision Zero safety improvements, and if yes, how much money do you think is needed to properly address this need, how would you allocate these funds and how would you propose to fund this?

 

We need to significantly increase our funding now and provide ongoing dedicated funding there after, through the GO Bond and/or the General Fund. Denver has out-grown RTD and its current infrastructure. Successful cities have multi-modal transportation systems for commuter and internal transit and mobility. Seattle is looking at a $500m 5 yr project of bicycle trails.

 

 

Q3

In the November 2018 election, Denver voters approved a sales tax to increase the yearly investment in parks by more than $40 million. How would you ensure that acquiring land for new parks is done in an equitable way and does not compete with other pressing city priorities, such as acquiring land for affordable housing? 

 

We need to be creative and think big. Councilman Clark stated when proposing 2A, "What if every block had a pocket park?" We may not have the opportunity to buy land in this aggressive real estate market. We need to identify opportunities to create a comprehensive and dedicated cycling trails system like those in Stapleton. They will work as transportation, recreation, green space and storm-water run off mitigation. We need to integrate some of our overarching broad goals with our infrastructure projects.

 

 

Q4 

All In Denver was formed to respond to concerns that racial and social inequity is growing in the city. What do you think are the reasons that we have become a less equitable city and what are your priorities for ensuring Denver becomes more equitable in the future?

 

As Denver grows many vulnerable communities have changed. Neighborhoods are gentrified and residents are isolated. There has not been equal investment in every neighborhood’s transit, schools, and housing needs. This week City Council voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 to reflect the cost of the living increase. We have inadequate affordable housing and access to clean green open space. In District 8, we see clear differences between Montbello, Park Hill, Stapleton and East Colfax. Equal investment and addressing the needs of our most vulnerable populations through bond and initiative funding to expand social services.

 

Q5

 

Running a city the size of Denver is a massive undertaking with a complex web of services, departments, budgets and trade-offs. From your understanding of the city and how it allocates its resources, are there areas of the city that you’d increase funding and if so, what are they? And likewise, are there areas of the city where you’d decrease funding?

 

Increase funding, reallocate, and create a dedicated department to address metropolitan transit and traffic engineering. We need to work on the urban multi-modal plans including walking, biking and public transportation. Expand affordable housing initiatives and programs to help people stay in their homes through property tax relief and maintenance programs. Protect our unique neighborhoods by creating destination planning to bridge gaps in their existence, through recruiting fresh food options and social service options.

 

Q6

Let’s assume that the City of Denver ends the 2019 fiscal year with a budget surplus of $20 million. As a Councilmember or Mayor, please list up to three program priorities on how you would spend this money. Please provide specific line items and budget amounts.

 

a. Ensure Sidewalks around all transit and cycling comprehensive trails/dedicated boulevards $8m

b. Land for affordable housing and homeless $7m

c. Job training/apprenticeship programs $5m