My voting strategy in Denver's Mayoral race worked much better than I imagined. My thinking was that Romer would win, and I should vote for someone else who seemed good, to keep Romer accountable. What I didn’t realize is Denver’s mayoral elections require a majority, not just a plurality. So Romer didn’t actually win by a small margin; he didn’t win at all. He did get the most votes. Mejia, who I expected to take second, actually took third slightly behind Hancock. So the runoff is between Romer and Hancock. I didn’t pay much attention to Hancock the first time, and looking more closely at him now, I don’t like him as much as Romer. Specifically his suggestion to set "performance goals" for city agencies feels like an empty gesture at best, an opening to cuts based on the ability to quantify rather than actual importance at worst. So unless something significant changes before the runoff, I’m voting for Romer this time.
I haven’t been paying much attention to the candidates for Mayor of Denver this year, but I just got my mail-in ballot, so now it’s time to figure out how I’m voting. As I’ve done before, I’m going to share my thoughts publicly. On my long list of websites I’d like to see is a site for recording my votes and the thought that went into them. Until someone makes that (or points me to it, if I’ve missed it), I’ll be using my blog.
There are a whopping 10 candidates for Mayor this year. I’m not sure how the ordering works, but on my ballot, they are in this order: Doug Linkhart, Carol Boigon, Chris Romer, Thomas Andrew Wolf, James Mejia, Jeff Peckman, Theresa Spahn, Michael B. Hancock, Danny F. Lopez, and Ken Simpson. Romer is the only name that sounds familiar, and I’m not sure why, so I’m going into this with close to a blank slate. Let’s pull up the websites.
Right off the bat, I’m eliminating Peckman as a choice. Turns out he’s the guy who pushed for some sort of government alien welcome committee. Even if that were an especially reasonable issue, I’m not voting for someone who only cares about a single issue.
After that, there’s only one candidate who doesn’t seem to have a website: Ken Simpson. I’d be willing to look past that if the Westword article suggested he’s especially good, but it doesn’t. On his top issue, jobs, he’s quoted as saying
Atlanta, Minneapolis and Austin always seem to be getting companies to come to them, and I don’t know why. Maybe learn why first, then run for mayor.
So now I have 8 websites to look at. At a quick glance, 2 of those sites look like they’re not very serious: Wolf has a number in his domain, a title of "Home Page", and what appears to be a free hosting icon at the bottom. Nope. Danny Lopez has the domain name as a title, some terrible graphics, and starts with "I am the Real Deal." Nothing says "I am not the real deal" like starting your pitch with "I am the real deal."
Now I’m looking at 6 mayoral candidates who are at least serious enough to get a decent website put together: Linkhart, Boigon, Romer, Mejia, Spahn, and Hancock. Time to look at issues. All 6 are talking about the economy and jobs. Boigon is the only one who doesn’t really say anything specific, so -1 there. Linkhart seems big into cutting services, so -1 there.
Beyond jobs, everyone but Boigon talks about being "green" or sustainability. So another -1 for Boigon. Let’s go ahead and focus on the other 5. Next issue: education. And ... everyone sounds pretty similar. That’s about it for issues at the city level. I did notice Romer has a section on LGBT equality, and while that isn’t especially relevant for Mayor, it’s nice to see he’s not afraid to say the right thing without an obvious political advantage.
Let’s move on to experience. Linkhart was on City Council. Romer was in the State Senate. Mejia was on School Board. Spahn was a judge. Hancock was City Council President. So they’re all experienced, but Romer and Spahn are the only two with political experience outside Denver. That suggests they’re looking at a future beyond Mayor, which seems good to me because they’ll need to be relatively popular as Mayor to successfully move on to anything else.
Next up: endorsements. Linkhart has a bunch of names. I guess that would be okay if he had larger endorsements too, but he doesn’t. So Linkhart’s off my list. Romer was endorsed by the Denver Post. Mejia was endorsed by AFSCME, a large union. Spahn was endorsed by a State Representative, who was apparently her 7th grade teacher. That’s less than impressive. I think I’ll take Spahn off the list. Hancock, like Linkhart, was endorsed by a bunch of names I don’t recognize. Maybe he wasn’t popular as City Council President?
At this point, I’m looking at Romer or Mejia. I suspect Romer will win, as everything about his website suggests he has the best campaign. And I’m okay with Romer winning; he looks like he’ll be a pretty good Mayor. But I’m going to vote for Mejia, because I don’t expect him to win. It’s not that I want to support the underdog; I just think closer elections keep politicians thinking about their constituencies, and that will result in better government. If Romer wins 30% over Mejia’s 29%, I expect he’ll be a better major than if he won with over 50% of the vote. And if Mejia ends up winning, I’m okay with that too.