Lisa Calderón, a community activist and prominent left-wing voice in Denver politics, has announced she is making a second run for the mayor’s office in 2023.
Calderón plans to file her candidate paperwork today for the city election coming in April.
Currently the executive director of Emerge Colorado, the local wing of a national organization dedicated to recruiting and training Democratic women to run for public office, Calderón was a candidate for mayor in 2019. It was her first time running for a government position. She finished third behind the now term-limited Mayor Michael Hancock and Jamie Giellis.
When asked by The Denver Post earlier this year if she planned to run again, Calderón, who is a Black Latina, said her main goal was to see a woman of color elected as Denver’s next mayor.
“If there is someone who has a very strong chance and reflects my values then this isn’t about me,” she said at the time.
Emerge Colorado commissioned a poll this summer that found 60% of surveyed voters think it’s important to elect more women to political office.
Now Calderón joins an already crowded candidate field that includes term-limited City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega, Colorado Rep. Leslie Herod and former Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Kelly Brough.
“I am not a term-limited career politician or part of Denver’s political machine,” Calderón said in a statement. “I have been fighting for working families, affordable housing, safer communities, civil rights, and reproductive freedom long before the pandemic or current threats to our democracy.”
The fourth-generation Denverite has clashed frequently with Hancock and some of his cabinet members during the mayor’s three terms in office, including as the former top staffer in City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca’s office. She has been a leading member of the Task Force to Reimagine Policing and Public Safety, a group that last year released 112 recommendations to reform the way the city enforces laws. Those recommendations included stopping sweeps of homeless encampments, establishing safe drug use sites and reducing unnecessary police interactions with residents across the board.
One of the core planks of Calderón’s platform entering the 2023 race is rebuilding faith in government institutions in the wake of deep political polarization and economic upheaval, she said.
She is presenting a vision of Denver where it can invest in creating more affordable housing and protecting green space at the same time, where mental health services are available on-demand and where all neighborhoods are safe and accessible for pedestrians and people with disabilities.
“When we reimagine Denver, we can transform how city government operates and is viewed by the public,” she said in a statement.
The campaign will be managed by Sarah Lake, who last fall led the successful No On the Arena Bond campaign that helped defeat a bond measure that would have raised $190 million to build a new arena and fund other projects at the National Western campus.
Calderón plans to host a campaign launch event from 2 to 4 p.m. on Oct. 22 at the Whittier Café, 1710 E. 25th Ave.
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