State Rep. Leslie Herod is in entering the race to be the next mayor of Denver, she announced Thursday.
In an already crowded field of potential candidates fronted by some prominent women, Herod feels she has the track record and drive to be the most effective leader for the city. As the first out LGBTQ Black person elected to the statehouse when she won her Denver district in 2016, she says she will demand results for marginalized communities in the city if elected in April 2023.
“I think Denver is ready for bold leadership. Denver is ready for female leadership,” Herod said. “I believe that this election will come down to who is the right woman for the job, and I believe that is me.”
Less than a week after her 40th birthday, Herod will be ringing in her candidacy with a launch party at the Roxy on Broadway starting at 5 p.m. Thursday. The event will include appearances by Colorado poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre and Denver hip-hop/rock outfit Flobots.
Herod touted her recent work at the statehouse on behalf of the arts and local venues like the Roxy on Broadway, but she knows the focus on the 2023 mayor’s race — the city’s first open election for mayor since 2011 — will be focused on issues including housing affordability, homelessness and public safety.
Working to address those problems will take collaboration, Herod said, but also a focus on practical solutions like working to speed up construction permitting in the city.
“It’s taking upwards of 18 to 20 months to get a permit not only to build if you want to have new affordable housing construction but also if you just want to expand your own home because maybe your family is growing,” Herod said. “We know that people are leaving the city in droves. Some are leaving to the suburbs and others are unfortunately transitioning into homelessness. Those things are very much connected and we’ve got to address them as such.”
Denver’s 15-year streak of population growth ended between mid-2020 and mid-2021 though experts pin some of that on the upheavals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and predict a quick rebound. Even if Denver remains attractive to young, college-educated workers going forward, the rising cost of living linked to that population growth is driving gentrification that is pushing Latinos and other minority groups out of the city.
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Herod cut her political teeth in student government at the University of Colorado. After graduating she partnered with classmates Steve Fenberg, now president of the Colorado Senate, and now U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, to launch New Era Colorado. The progressive organization has been at the forefront of outreach efforts to young voters in the state for over a decade.
During her time in the legislature, Herod has been at the center of major pieces of legislation including the 2020 police reform bill that passed with widespread, bipartisan support.
Herod’s announcement comes two days after local finance professional (and past mayoral candidate) Thomas Wolf filed his candidate paperwork with the city.
Herod and Wolf join nine other candidates in the race. City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega filed her paperwork on Friday. Former chief of staff to then-Mayor John Hickenlooper Kelly Brough filed in August.
Anna Burrell, Alex Cowans, Marcus Giavanni, Jesse Lashawn Parris, Terrance Roberts, Andy Rougeot, Ken Simpson and Ean Thomas Tafoya also are in the race.
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