Former Democratic lawmaker Penfield Tate to challenge Hancock in Denver mayor’s race

Penfield Tate III

A new political challenger to Mayor Michael Hancock plans to open his campaign today with a TV advertisement during the Denver Broncos game.

Penfield Tate III, a former state senator and representative, has announced that he’ll run for mayor in May 2019, joining the pool of candidates looking to unseat Hancock.

In an interview, Tate said he decided to run because he thinks that Hancock’s administration has mishandled the city’s rapid growth.

“Development is out of sync with neighborhoods, disrupting the quality of neighborhoods. It’s imperiling open space and we’re having an impact on parks. It’s driving gentrification. It’s impacting small businesses that are … getting driven out of neighborhoods. It’s impacting affordable housing,” he said.

“People just want a different direction. They’re frustrated with a city government they think isn’t open, isn’t transparent and frankly isn’t responsive.”

Tate, 62, was a state representative from 1997 to 2000 and was a state senator from 2001 to 2003 for northeast Denver, when he resigned to run for mayor. He lost that year to John Hickenlooper. Tate also served in the administration of former Denver mayor Federico Peña.

The new candidate said his administration would not discourage development but would exercise more control over it. Hancock’s administration has launched a series of area planning efforts and the city-wide “Denveright” plan, but Tate said it’s happening years too late.

“One of the most discouraging things I’ve heard: They don’t feel that this administration leads, is ever ahead of an issue — that they’re responding to it,” he said. He also said that voters have reservations about Hancock’s behavior because the mayor admitted to sending lascivious text messages to a police officer, who described them as harassment.

Hancock’s campaign spokesperson Jake Martin cited the mayor’s creation of a new “Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization Team,” and his support of a tax-rebate program for low-income families, as examples of how the administration has bettered the city.

“One of the mayor’s highest priorities is ensuring that, as Denver grows, we grow in a way that protects vulnerable neighborhoods, improves equity, increases access to opportunity and addresses affordability,” Martin wrote in an email to the Denver Post.

Tate’s father, the late Penfield Tate II, was the first and only black person to serve as mayor of Boulder, where he was known for making an early stand in support of LGBTQ people’s rights.

Tate hadn’t filed local paperwork for his candidacy as of Monday morning. Candidates have 10 days to file paperwork once they have announced their candidacy or spent $500 on their campaign.

Other candidates for mayor include Stephan Evans, also known as Chairman Seku; Marcus Giavanni; Kalyn Heffernan; and Kayvan Khalatbari, who at times has rivaled the mayor in fundraising.

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