Lawsuit: Susan Shepherd Misled Public on Zoning Change for A Campaign Contributor

The last place a struggling political candidate wants to be is in court, on the wrong end of a lawsuit from voters. But that’s exactly where Susan Shepherd, the rookie City Council representative for Northwest Denver’s District 1, has landed.

Susan Shepherd

Source: 9news

Shepherd was singled out in a lawsuit that three local homeowners and the Sloan’s Lake Neighborhood Association filed March 16 in Denver District Court against the entire City Council. The suit seeks to overturn the Council’s controversial vote to allow significantly larger-than-originally-promised buildings in one portion of the St. Anthony redevelopment project by Sloan’s Lake, in Shepherd’s district. Shepherd has received campaign donations from at least nine developers involved in projects at St. Anthony or on nearby West Colfax Ave., including NAVA Real Estate Development, which benefits directly from the upzoning at the heart of the lawsuit.

The crux of the lawsuit is that the City Council improperly considered and voted on the upzoning, ignoring an earlier city-sanctioned development plan and violating in various ways the legal requirement that Council must function as an impartial, quasi-judicial body in considering such requests. The complaint specifically cites Shepherd’s actions during the Council’s Feb. 17 hearing and vote on the matter as a key piece of evidence for its claim:  

“At said hearing, Councilwoman Shepherd made the claim that the proposed rezoning conformed to the West Colfax Plan, and read aloud a relevant portion of the Guiding Principles–which were incorporated into such plan—to make her point. Such principles require the tallest buildings to be “toward West Colfax”. When Shepherd read from the Guiding Principles, she omitted the words “toward West Colfax” from her recital. Furthermore, at said hearing, the Community Planning and Development (CPD) staff made no reference whatever to the significant words “toward West Colfax.” [author’s emphasis]

This is a big deal because while the St. Anthony redevelopment is widely popular, hundreds of residents have rebelled against an ongoing push by its developers to allow huge buildings closer to Sloan’s Lake than originally planned. There, the 12-story buildings that developers want — instead of the five-story structures the zoning previously allowed — would block views and cast shadows on the popular park. Residents want them further south of the lake, nearer to West Colfax Ave., as they say the area redevelopment plan specifically intended. Shepherd voted in favor of the upzoning that would allow those high-rises to cluster by the lakefront, despite the request of 500 nearby residents that she vote “no.”

The suit also alleges that instead of approaching the zoning hearing in the impartial, “quasi-judicial” manner city law requires Council to take for such hearings, Shepherd had determined in advance how she planned to vote:

“Councilwoman Susan Shepherd, within whose District lies the subject property, immediately after the quasi-judicial hearing, read from a prepared statement approving the rezoning. In her statement, which was purportedly read from the Urban Form, Guiding Principle of the St. Anthony Task Force Report and Recommendation regarding building height and density, but specifically omitted the operative language, and two most important words, “towards Colfax”. Upon information and belief, Plaintiffs believe Shepherd failed to conduct herself as a neutral quasi-judicial decision-maker, having already spoken in favor of the zoning change at the November 12, 2014 Planning Board hearing on the C-MX-12 zoning map amendment, and having engaged in extensive ex parte contacts with the property owner and its representatives while the rezoning application was pending, and having already decided to vote in favor of the rezoning before the February 17, 2015 City Council hearing.” [author’s emphasis]

It gets worse: The zoning change in question primarily benefits one of Shepherd’s campaign funders, NAVA Real Estate Development. Shepherd  was in hot water already with District 1 voters over her ties with developers with whom she has sided in numerous cases vs. aggrieved constituents. Now, her growing opposition can point to another in a series of occasions in which Susan Shepherd appeared to favor a campaign donor over local residents.

Denver Municipal Races: Fundraising Update

Back in January we sifted through the various races for the May 5th Denver Municipal election. As we said at time time, some of the Denver races were still just beginning to shake out; with new fundraising number available, it’s time again to take a look at the very large field of candidates.

The fundraising numbers below were compiled through publicly-available reports that can be accessed via the website of the Denver Clerk and Recorder. While anyone can access campaign finance data and make their own spreadsheet — heck, we do it all the time for state races — we did not actually pull all of these reports on our own. Most of the work was done by Denver political consultant Matt Derrington (Derrington Consulting), who compiled this data on his own and kindly shared it with Denver Pols to re-purpose here. For more on the latest Denver fundraising numbers, check out Jon Murray at the Denver Post.

Okay, let’s get to it. We’ll take you through the numbers, race-by-race, after the jump…

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Susan Shepherd’s Re-Election Problem: It’s Worse Than You Thought

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

 

A Feb. 24 fundraising email from Susan Shepherd, the embattled rookie City Council member for Denver’s District 1, blames widespread opposition to her re-election on “disgruntled folks in our community who don’t believe in smart development and growing our communities.”

 

Talk to District 1 voters though and they paint a starkly different picture: Opposition to Shepherd has galvanized because of her outsized advocacy for property developers who have clashed at times with local residents, compounded by what many see as an unseemly Shepherd grab for campaign dollars from those same developers.

In what rapidly is becoming the most closely watched 2015 Council race, residents of the Northwest Denver district point out how developer interests in District 1 projects dovetail with their spending on Shepherd. Opponents also describe Shepherd’s open opposition to local residents — through Council votes and in numerous public statements — on occasions when they have faced off against her developer benefactors over sometimes contentious property ventures in neighborhoods such as Sloan’s Lake, West Highland and Berkeley.

To be fair, a District 1 Council member must work closely with property-related businesses. The Northwest Denver district is home to booming redevelopment on West Colfax Ave. and at the old St. Anthony hospital site by Sloan’s Lake. It’s a hotbed of residential scrapeoffs. And not suprisingly Shepherd’s strongest opponent, Jefferson Park architect Rafael Espinoza, has worked directly with developers both professionally and as a community advocate. As a result he likely will attract some of their campaign support.

But what typically stuns residents who review Shepherd’s campaign finance reports of the past two years (here, here and here) is the magnitude of developer largesse. More than a third — nearly $15,000 — of Shepherd’s TOTAL campaign donations from 2013 to January 2015 came from businesses and people whose current or planned District 1 projects she has advocated in Council votes, public statements and meetings with residents. And that was even before her planned Feb. 26 kickoff event where envelopes were ready again to be stuffed with checks and cash.

Payments through January included: A $500 payment from a construction company CEO in Houston, Texas, who is building a large apartment building at 38th Ave. and Lowell Blvd. in West Highland. Another $1,000 came from the Austin, Texas-based restaurant chain that Shepherd helped to get tax increment financing for a project on West Colfax. There was $1,000 from EnviroFinance, the lead redeveloper at St. Anthony; more than $2,000 from a property manager with restaurants speckling District 1; and more than $2,500 from entities related to Red Peak Properties, which in 2014 lost a heated battle vs. West Highland residents to plop three five-story apartment blocks next to the 100-year-old Victorian houses near 32nd Ave. and Lowell Blvd. A more detailed donations list is here.

To paraphrase the late Sen. Everett Dirksen: $2,000 here, $2,000 there…pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

Compounding the ill will that the appearance of a major conflict of interest has created: Shepherd’s typically prickly demeanor when engaging large, organized groups of local residents that have sought her help in mitigating traffic problems and other impacts from various local projects. Some 500 residents petitioned against an upzoning to increase the allowable building size on some blocks in the St. Anthony project to 12 stories from the 5 stories originally promised. Shepherd voted "yes" on the upzoning, as requested by NAVA Real Estate Development. NAVA co-owner Brian Levitt is a Shepherd campaign funder.

Residents also cite Shepherd’s behavior during the multiyear battle with Red Peak, which among other things saw her promote as “compromises” design elements the developer already had in its original plans predating the rise of community opposition. More recently, residents reported that Shepherd glowered from the sidelines at a Feb. 17 community meeting staged by Houston-based Trammell Crow Residential — whose CEO Kenneth Valach gave Shepherd $500 — to promote a planned apartment project for Shepherd donor Gene Lucero.

In contrast with her smiling photo ops such as marching in the Martin Luther King Day Marade, many District 1 residents characterize Shepherd’s personal interactions with them as “disdainful” or “unhelpful,” and point to her lack of any significant initiatives on CIty Council. During this month’s near-record snowfall in Denver, Shepherd showed astonishing tone deafness when she posted a Facebook entry admonishing residents — in a district with numerous elderly residents — to clear their sidewalks because “the snow won’t remove itself.”

Clearly the rookie councilwoman faces an uphill battle to retain the seat she won by just a 5% margin in a 2011 runoff election.

 

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Feb. 25)

Get More Smarter

BIll O'Reilly would have signed the Declaration of Independence, but he overslept. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Late yesterday, the Governor's Oil & Gas Taskforce released its "recommendations" for dealing with fracking…and they were about as anti-climactic as skeptics had expected. After months of meetings, the task force submitted a handful of small proposals to Gov. John Hickenlooper, though the most robust proposals for promoting more local control failed to move forward. Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith said the taskforce produced "some gravy, but forgot the meat and potatoes"; Noble Energy Vice President (and task-force member) Dan Kelly told the Denver Post that he thinks the group's recommendations "will address the issue." Congressman Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) was blunt in his assessment that "the oil and gas industry proved they weren't interested in a compromise or solving problems." So, that went well.

► Despite holding majority control of both chambers of Congress, Republicans continue to fight amongst themselves over whether to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before Friday's deadline. As Politico reports, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Tanning Bed) are pretty well hosed:

McConnell has been quiet for weeks about his next steps. But his new proposal on Tuesday — to extend DHS funding through September while advancing a separate plan to block a portion of Obama’s immigration proposal — signaled that he’s nervous a shutdown could damage his party politically. Twenty-four GOP senators are up for reelection next year.

Boehner is in an even tighter jam: Any sense that he is caving to the White House could further erode confidence in his leadership among the far right, which is furious at Obama’s immigration push. Boehner has not directly addressed whether he’d put a stand-alone funding bill on the floor, and several Republican leadership sources say they favor several short-term measures to try to keep the heat on the White House.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Denver Police Union Calls For Chief White’s Resignation

Defaced Denver Police memorial.

Defaced Denver Police memorial.

In a development sure to have political ramifications, 9NEWS reports on a fresh war of words between the Denver Police Protective Association and DPD chief Robert White after a vandalism incident during a large anti-police brutality protest march Saturday:

The head of Denver's police union wants Chief Robert White gone.

He says officers were told not to take immediate action when protesters defaced a memorial for fallen officers.

"We will no longer follow him as we move forward," said Nick Rogers, president of the Denver Police Protective Association. "He is not our chief."

Saturday, demonstrators aiming to protest what they perceive as police brutality threw red paint on the memorial, which sits outside of Denver Police headquarters. Rogers says DPD brass told officers not to take immediate action.

As 9NEWS reports, Denver Police under Chief White have followed a less-confrontational policy when dealing with protest marches, identifying individual lawbreakers for later arrest as opposed to charging into crowds to break up illegal activities on sight. Our understanding is that in a life-threatening situation, police would still wade into a protest to restore order, but not for (as in this case) preventing petty vandalism committed by a small number of protesters. Two suspects have already been arrested over Saturday's incident.

We get up early to beat the crowds.

“We get up early to beat the crowds.”

Such a policy becomes more important to strictly adhere to, though we'd say it always should be important, when police respond to a protest against police brutality. In addition to the nationwide headlines in recent months over the issue of police killings and beatings of unarmed citizens, DPD itself has a long and unsettling record of police brutality–and a culture of mutual silence and protection among police officers accused of misconduct that has made cracking down on the problem very difficult. Repeated, well-publicized instances of obvious misconduct by Denver police, both in the commission and concealment of violence against undeserving citizens, have severely eroded the trust of the community they serve. Accountability for Denver police accused of misconduct remains slow, uneven, and too often dependent on the media forcing the hand of officials.

Bottom line: everything we have heard about Chief White suggests that he is genuinely committed to reforming both the public image and internal culture of the DPD, and this reflects creditably on Mayor Michael Hancock for appointing him. However emotional police officers may be about this memorial to fallen officers–and we don't want to disparage that legtimate sentiment–it would absolutely have been the wrong decision to break from established policy and violently charge into this crowd over what amounts to petty vandalism.

Chief White told rank and file that he found the vandalism "abhorrent" but said "I believe the decision we made was appropriate."

Rogers says the actions send a different message.

"The message I got was you, as a police officer, are not as important as our image," Rogers says.

In early December, several Denver Police officers were injured, one critically, in an unrelated car accident that followed a large walk-out of students from East High School protesting against police brutality. The same Denver police union at that time circulated rumors that students had jeered the injured officers, which was not corroborated by any of the numerous media outlets on scene or witnesses other than Denver police. The story made for good mythmaking on FOX News, but locally, it wasn't good for the police union's credibility. In this case, calling for the chief of police to resign for following his established policy, and not giving in to emotion where it could make his job harder in the long run, makes Chief White look like a hero.

As for the Denver Police Protective Association? Maybe it's time they reflect on who they're really supposed to be protecting. Because whether they realize it or not, this is not the "image" they want.

2015 Denver Municipal Elections: List of Candidates

Mayor of Denver Michael Hancock

You can go ahead and mark down Michael Hancock for another term as Mayor of Denver.

The 2015 Denver Municipal Elections are fast approaching, and the way things are shaping up, we could see one of the more crowded ballots in years — which should make it very difficult for any one candidate to get 50% of the vote and avoid a runoff. This is also the first Denver election to take place under the re-drawn city boundaries, so there are more unknowns than normal.

Candidates for Municipal Office (Mayor, Auditor, Clerk & Recorder, City Council) can begin circulating petitions to formally place their names on the ballot as soon as Tuesday, Feb. 3; signed petitions are required to be submitted to the Denver Clerk and Recorder by March 11. The General Election will be held on May 5, with a runoff (as necessary) election scheduled for June 2.

We’ll be following the Denver elections every step of the way. Early indications are that two over-arching themes should be at play this spring: 1) Conflicting views about development and affordable housing, and 2) Labor union support (pro-union vs. anti-union sentiments).

Click after the jump for a brief look at the declared candidates for office and how each respective race is shaking out as January draws to a close:

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Michael Carrigan Announces Run for Denver District Attorney

Michael Carrigan, candidate for Denver District Attorney

Democrat Michael Carrigan, a two-term CU Regent, announced his campaign for Denver District Attorney today.

Democrat Michael Carrigan formally announced his campaign for Denver District Attorney today. Judging from his ridiculously-long endorsement list, which includes big names such as former Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and former Denver Mayors Wellington Webb and Federico Pena, you'd have a hard time finding someone in Denver who didn't already know Carrigan was running.

Heck, you might have trouble finding a politico anywhere in Colorado who isn't already backing the two-term CU Regent. Carrigan also has the support of Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett, as the Boulder Daily Camera reports:

Like Garnett, Carrigan has a diverse resume that includes being a prosecutor, working in private practice and serving as an elected official in education. Also like Garnett, if elected Carrigan would take over an office that's been run most recently by career prosecutors.

"Overall, I think (Denver) is a very good office with a lot of really terrific lawyers, but every now and then it's healthy to bring in somebody from outside an office and have them look at everything top to bottom," Garnett said. "What I tried to do was make changes I thought were needed and make them in a way that was respectful of the traditions and culture of the (Boulder DA's) office, and I think Michael could do that in Denver."

The City of Denver holds its regular municipal election in May, but because District Attorney is technically considered a state race, Carrigan will be campaigning through November 2016. Since Denver is a Democratic stronghold, this race will essentially be decided in the June 2016 Democratic Primary. That's still a good 18 months away, but there's good reason for Carrigan to be planning so far ahead.

There may be no other office in Colorado that opens up as infrequently as District Attorney. Consider: term-limited Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey was first elected in 2004, the same year that Salazar won his seat in the U.S. Senate. Morrissey was easily re-elected in 2008 and 2012 (you can serve 3 terms in Denver), but over the same period of time, Colorado voters have selected 3 different U.S. Senators. The next Denver DA will be only the third person to hold that office this century (Bill Ritter served as Denver DA through 2004).

State Rep. Beth McCann, who lost the 2004 Democratic Primary to Morrissey, quietly announced her own campaign for Denver DA last week (Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post has both announcements here), but she'll have a hard time just catching up to Carrigan at this point. Endorsements do not decide the outcome of political races, of course, but it's difficult to see where McCann or another challenger is going to gain a real foothold of support when you look at the list of people behind Carrigan already. Carrigan should raise plenty of cash for his campaign as well, and is reportedly willing to contribute a significant amount of personal money toward the cause. 

A lot can happen in 18 months, but getting off to an early start is critical in a race such as Denver DA; anybody else who is thinking about making a run had better make a decision very soon.

Denver Police Union Makes Serious, Dubious Allegation

pparelease

9NEWS reports on shocking accusations leveled yesterday by the Denver Police Protective Association, the union representing police officers in Denver:

The Denver police union says protestors marching against the Ferguson grand jury decision cheered and chanted "hit him again" after four officers were hit by a runaway car.

Several other police sources tell 9NEWS crime and justice reporter Anastasiya Bolton that there is evidence as well as DPD witnesses to the fact that some students cheered after the officers were struck.

The irony of police being injured while protecting students protesting against police misconduct should not be lost on anyone, including the students who were marching Wednesday when the officers were struck. With that said, there does seem to be an attempt here to discredit entirely lawful protest with an apparently unrelated and tragic accident by the police union. Even if there were a few bad-mannered students who heckled, it would be wrong to blame all the protesters, or impugn the larger reasons for protesting against police misconduct based on any such unrepresentative actions.

Especially since, as the Denver Post reports, the "evidence" referred to above doesn't appear to exist.

Although some obscenities were directed at police while they were escorting the East High School protesters, Denver Post journalists witnessed no cheering after a Mercedes hit four officers. Students who were interviewed expressed concern about the injuries. [Pols emphasis]

In its response to the union, the Denver Police Department said it could not independently confirm claims that students cheered.

"If in fact there were inappropriate actions taken by a few students Chief (Robert) White does not believe this reflects the opinions of the vast majority of protesters," according to the police statement.

Backlash from the Denver police union isn't happening in a vacuum, of course–protests around the nation over the failure to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson after the killing of African American teenager Michael Brown have been met with angry responses from police associations, including the now-famous exchange between members of the St. Louis Rams and that city's police officer's association after several Rams players took the field last weekend with their hands up in "don't shoot" protest. At least to some extent, you can't blame them: police unions are logically going to defend the honor of their members and profession at a time when both are subject to widespread questioning.

But scapegoating a few misguided students–assuming what's alleged even happened–isn't the way to do that.

The Folly of Denver’s Residential Requirements Effort

There is an effort underway in Denver to re-establish a degree of residency requirement that may appear on the May 2015 ballot. This is a stupid idea, for reasons that we'll explain in a moment. But first, we'll let Jon Murray of the Denver Post explain the trumped-up controversy:

Denver voters long ago repealed a requirement that city workers live within city limits, but a group of residents is working to revive the rule for mayoral appointees.

They're aiming to place a charter amendment on the ballot for next May's municipal election, when Mayor Michael Hancock is up for re-election...

…For about 20 years, landlocked Denver had the rule for all city employees, from top political appointees to janitors.

But in 1998, Denver voters decided, 58 percent to 41 percent, to expand the residency rule significantly, allowing city employees to live not only in Denver, but also in six nearby counties.

In 2001, Denver voters repealed the residency requirement altogether, 51 percent to 48 percent.

SWDenver-Map2

You’re not in Denver anymore. Or are you?

The editorial board of the Denver Post weighed in over the weekend, calling the residency requirement "a step too far" and "unnecessary," and we wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. We have no problem with requiring elected officials to live in the area in which they seek to represent, but there's a good reason that Denver scrapped this requirement for city workers in general.

Denver's City and County boundaries evolved in a weird way over the last century, which you can see from the map at right. There are official Denver tentacles that stretch wayyy outside reasonable boundaries, with little pockets of the City and County existing as municipal islands in the middle of Jefferson County.

The reason that Denver County juts well past Sheridan to the Southwest is because old residency requirements once required all city employees — including those working for the fire and police departments — to live within official Denver boundaries. As Metro Denver grew into the vast sprawl that exists today, many of these Denver employees wanted to move into newer, and more affordable, developments popping up in nearby unincorporated Jefferson County.

As a workaround solution so that Denver employees could keep their jobs and their new homes, odd sections of land were annexed into Denver — the metropolitan mountain moving to Muhammad, to borrow a phrase. This is a middle finger to the entire argument in favor of residential requirements, which is the idea that City and County employees will be more attuned to the needs and desires of Denver so long as you extend a boundary on a map.

Today, these neighborhoods are so far removed from the City and County of Denver that residents spend most of their lives (and money) in Jefferson County, even if their property taxes go somewhere else. Denver residents wisely voted to drop the requirements in 1991, but now some folks want to reestablish these requirements for mayoral appointees for petty reasons. This is a slippery slope that can quickly become problematic as more and more levels of local government get obsessed with the relevance of residency. Employees of Jefferson County are not required to live within the county boundaries, nor should they be. We can only imagine how it would stifle diversity if we required all government employees to live in specific areas.

The Denver Metropolitan Area is more than just the boundaries of its capitol city…and that's a good thing. If you don't like a particular mayoral appointee, then you can take it up with the Mayor's office; requiring an employee to move into the dotted-line sections of a map isn't going to change anything.

 

Put the Stamps Away and Drop Off Your Ballot

Remember, folks, that ballots must arrive at the county clerk's office prior to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday; the postmarked date is irrelevant in this case.

To find your ballot drop-off location, go to JustVoteColorado.org.

For Denver voters, ProgressNow has developed a cool text message system that allows voters to find the nearest 24-hour ballot drop location. To use this free service, Denver voters can text DROPOFF to 30644.

dropoff

 

Hancock Earns Praise on Eve of “State of City” Address

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will deliver his annual "State of the City" address today — his last "State of the City" before next May's Denver city elections. Hancock has little reason to be concerned that he will even face a serious challenger in his bid for re-election, and the editorial board of the Denver Post helps explain why:

Hancock hasn't been a flashy mayor during his first term, but he's been a steady one who has attended to the nuts and bolts of governance, pushing for efficiencies while paying special attention to neglected neighborhoods such as those along the Interstate 70 corridor.

And no doubt partly because of this record, no one has voiced an intention to challenge him next spring…

We'd be surprised if the mayor announced any major initiatives in Monday's speech, but that isn't necessary. Good governance primarily depends on other things, such as a focus on the city's neighborhoods, connectivity and safety. Nothing flashy, just essential.

What say you, Polsters? What do you think of Mayor Hancock's time in office thus far?

Ferrandino Will be New Denver Schools CFO

From the Denver Post:

Denver Public Schools has hired a high-profile politician to be the district's next chief financial officer.

Outgoing House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, will join the school district July 21. Ferrandino, who was term-limited and could not seek re-election, will serve the rest of his term, which ends in January.

"I was starting to look at what options and opportunities were out there, and this opportunity came in front of me," Ferrandino said. "When I look at the big things that I'm passionate about, education is one them."

Pretty Thin Primary Ballot for Denver Democrats

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, right, is backing Alec Garnett as his successor in HD-2.

Alec Garnett (left) and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino.

Denver Democrats are used to Primary Election evenings that are about as suspenseful as waiting to hear the name of the Broncos' starting quarterback, but this year is even quieter than most. The only real Primary race in Denver is in HD-2, where Alec Garnett and Owen Perkins are running to succeed the term-limited House Speaker Mark Ferrandino.

Most Denver races are decided in a Primary because of the overwhelming voter advantage for Democrats, and once someone gets elected for the first time, they tend to go unchallenged as long as they don't make any unusual mistakes. Since a Republican has virtually no chance to pull a General Election upset, any aspiring candidates in Denver must bide their time until term limits re-open the field. In cities such as Denver and Colorado Springs (the latter being overwhelmingly Republican), it has become something of a paradox that it often takes more time and effort to win a Primary even though you are courting a significantly smaller number of likely voters. For example, candidates have been actively campaigningin HD-2  for more than a year; this is quite a contrast to a more competitive House District such as Lakewood's HD-23, where Republicans have only had a candidate in place for a few weeks. This happens, of course, because more candidates are realizing that consolidating support early can leave your opponent few places to turn once the ballots finally start to drop. Call it the Perception Primary — the campaign inside the campaign.

There is a great example of this happening in HD-2, where Garnett has run an exceptional race thus far. Garnett faces Perkins in a two-person race that narrowed when Aaron Silverstein failed to make the ballot threshold requirement through the caucus process. To date, Garnett has been the most proficient fundraiser of any State House candidate in Colorado, and he has deftly maneuvered to pick up critical endorsements at key points in the race (including Rep. Ferrandino's endorsement in February). Last week, Garnett announced the support of former Gov. Bill Ritter and current State Rep. Daniel Kagan, two excellent endorsements to add to your list just before ballots begin to go in the mail. 

Weird things can, and do, happen in Primary Elections, so there's no guarantee that Garnett's efforts will be rewarded when ballots are counted. But if you were a betting man (or woman), you'd have trouble finding a candidate with stronger odds next month.

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb In Hospital

As the Denver Post reports, we wish former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb a speedy recovery:

[Denver Health] Medical center staff would not immediately say what Webb was being treated for, but he was likely to spend the night as a precautionary measure, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Webb was having lunch at a downtown restaurant Thursday before going to the hospital, an associate said.

Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher Pushes Back on I-70 Expansion

As the Denver Post reports:

A proposal to expand Interstate 70 to five lanes in each direction through northeast Denver is attracting the ire of Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher, who feels the idea doesn't make sense for neighborhoods and the city as a whole.

Widening the highway to 10 lanes when people are driving less is a waste of the $1.8 billion the Colorado Department of Transportation plans to spend between Brighton Boulevard and Tower Road, Gallagher said.

"It makes no sense to me and is not good public policy to build a 10-lane freeway when it likely will never be needed, may in point of fact be obsolete sooner than later, is destructive to neighborhoods, and a wasteful expenditure of taxpayer dollars," he said.

This is an interesting battle highlighting differences between CDOT and local governments. The Denver City Council is expected to weigh in on with a proclamation on Monday, and though the City Council can't directly stop the project, they can certainly pressure CDOT to look in a different direction. Gallagher supports a different plan which would reroute I-70 along I-270.