Photo Source // Amy Reglin
By: Catie Cheshire, Co Editor- In -Chief
Even though many people are already thinking about the 2020 presidential election, Denver’s municipal elections are just around the corner on May 7, 2019. With that in mind the Regis Community Council, RUSGA, and Berkeley Regis United Neighborhood along with many other sponsors brought the District 1 City Council candidates to Regis on March 20.
The event served as a way for community members to learn about all the candidates and ask questions relevant to the District 1 area, which includes Regis. The candidates are Mike Somma, Amanda Sandoval, David Sabados, Prajwal Kulkarni, Scott Durrah, Sabrina D’Agosto, and Victoria Aguilar. Dominic Dezzutti, station manager at Colorado Public Television, served as the moderator. He guided candidates through one-minute opening and closing statements and asked them questions submitted by sponsors of the event and the audience.
Jenna Farley, a community member and part of Regis Community Council, kicked off the night with an introduction. Farley was one of the original organizers of the event. She discussed how city policies affect people’s daily lives and argued that City Council elections are important because they give people a chance to elect people who have a say over what happens in their neighborhoods. She introduced Father John Fitzgibbons, Regis President, who shared welcoming words and wisdom.
“They say all politics is local,” he said. “That’s true. What we do here affects everything else. What we do here is make democracy work.” After Father Fitzgibbons’ concluding remarks, Dezzutti was ready to kick off the night. He began by inviting each of the seven candidates to give an opening statement.
Most candidates spoke about their time in the district, their experiences that led them to run for office, and why they would be good advocates for people in District 1. Candidates range from Somma, a firefighter, to Durrah, a dispensary owner to Aguilar, who works at Denver Human Services.
Though the candidates are a diverse group, they all identified the same primary issue District 1 faces: housing amidst a changing neighborhood. Each candidate offered unique ideas for what should be done to make housing more affordable and preserve the character of the neighborhood. Their ideas ranged from overlay zones, to repurposing old buildings as temporary housing, to giving residents a voice in city planning.
Along with concerns about development, one question asked about transportation. Once again, all the candidates agreed that transportation is a major problem in District 1. Across the board, the issue of sidewalk maintenance arose. Currently, homeowners are responsible for the sidewalks outside their residence. Several candidates said they would like to appropriate money, or alter that policy, so that the city would fix sidewalks instead of individuals.
Another important theme throughout the night was community involvement. Each candidate said they had ideas for how to involve the community more in decision-making with D’Agosta and Aguilar emphasizing the importance of asking people how they would like to be included in decision-making and Sabados describing how technology could be used to have digital town halls that are accessible to more people. Every candidate spoke about how city council, more than any other pathway in our current government, gives people in the community a voice.
To return to Father Fitzgibbons’ theme that politics is local, having the District 1 candidate forum at Regis is just one way the university promotes political engagement and becomes a better neighbor to others in the community.
The event was streamed on FacebookLive and offered Spanish translation, ensuring more of District 1 could be included in the forum. To update your voter registration click here. For information about how to vote in the upcoming municipal elections that City Council is included in click here.