Denver Municipal Campaigns and the Future of Denver: At-Large Races

Our focus has always been on making our region a great place to live and do business, and it’s no secret that the upcoming Denver municipal election will play a pivotal role in shaping our success. As we look forward to the years ahead, we believe it is essential that the business community and Denver city leaders have an opportunity to develop meaningful and collaborative relationships. This election will impact not just Denver, but likely how the region is able to respond to today’s policy challenges.

That’s why we will be keeping our members appraised as the races progress over the coming weeks. As we head to Election Day on April 4th, we will continue highlighting the election and potential impacts to our community.

With the spring campaign cycle fully underway, there’s lots of talk about the big field for mayor; yet, there’s another group of candidates vying for favor from that same pool of voters across the entire city.

This week, we are taking a deeper dive into candidates running for either of the two At-Large seats vacated by current Councilmembers Robin Kniech and Debbie Ortega who have reached the end of their term limits.

And unlike the Mayoral and District Council races, which go to a run-off if no one gets at least 50% of the vote, there’s only one chance to vote for the at-large race, where the top two vote getters join the Council on behalf of the entire city.

Why should businesses care about Denver’s municipal elections?

We know that functional government and good policy are essential components to Metro Denver’s economic competitiveness and your ability to do business. We’ve heard from members, site selectors and prospective businesses that they’re closely watching the direction of the city for the following reasons:

  • Safety downtown impacts return-to-work plans, the cash flow of tourist dollars, and the longevity of businesses reliant on foot traffic.
  • Tax dollars have been poured into public spaces as an economic development investment, and if the public doesn’t feel safe accessing those amenities, we’ve wasted millions of tax dollars.
  • Economic vitality is lagging, indicated by the 1000 businesses that have changed their shipping addresses away from Denver, and we can’t afford to have cascading losses if we want Denver to be globally competitive.
  • New regulations crafted by local, state and federal leaders are mounting on businesses. We need to have policy makers willing to hear the needs and arguments of business to make sure regulations are reasonable, implementable and actually achieve their policy objectives.

More people are leaving Denver, and Colorado generally. Our recent net out migration impacts tax revenue, public goods and services, and our workforce pipeline.

The At-Large candidates

Below is a high-level summary about each At-Large candidate, including their most recent financial disclosure numbers, their occupation, notable endorsements and some key policies they championed in a Fair Elections Fund debate last week.

Note, the issues dominating debates and candidate platforms this election cycle are crime, affordability and homelessness. Other issues like environmentalism, development and education are also key policy areas that will impact the future of Denver; however, the tone of the race has been set.

Dominic Angelo Diaz   
Cash on Hand: $787.98
Reported Fundraising: $5,303.05
Occupation: Contract Compliance Coordinator for the Office of Children’s Affairs
Notable Endorsements: Not listed
Their policy ideas:

  • Denver Police Department issuing serial numbers for catalytic converters
  • Human-centered infrastructure projects to improve safety
  • Tax incentives for electrification

Will Chan
Cash on Hand: $111,337.74
Reported Fundraising: $127,768.12
Occupation: Director of Strategy and External Affairs, Denver Economic Development and Opportunity
Notable Endorsements: Not listed
Their policy ideas:

  • Adaptive reuse of office buildings for housing
  • Youth and economic mobility programs to address the root causes of crime
  • Transit-oriented development

Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez  
Cash on Hand: $97,730.25
Reported Fundraising: $118,014.00
Occupation: Colorado State Representative
Notable Endorsements: Colorado State Rep. Steven Woodrow, Colorado State Senator James Coleman, YIMBY Denver, Councilwoman Robin Kniech
Their policy ideas:

  • More mental health and substance abuse treatment to address safety and homelessness
  • Focus on youth mental health
  • Beneficial electrification

Tim Hoffman
Cash on Hand: $168,258
Reported Fundraising: $209,199.00
Occupation: Prosecutor for the Denver District Attorney’s Office
Notable Endorsements: Not listed
Their policy ideas:

  • Housing first for homelessness while enforcing the camping ban
  • Drilling down on gang affiliation by identifying known shooters
  • Crime prevention through wrap around services

Travis Leiker
Cash on Hand: $286,633.02
Reported Fundraising: $385,490.34
Occupation: Senior Director of Development & Philanthropic Advisor for University of Colorado
Notable Endorsements: Former President of the Denver City Council Elbra Wedgeworth, Former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Alec Garnett, Colorado State Senator Faith Winter, Former U.S. Senator Mark Udall, One Main Street
Their policy ideas:

  • Safe outdoor spaces
  • Fully staff Denver Police Department
  • Economic insecurity solutions to address crime

Sarah Parady
Cash on Hand: $115,840.66
Reported Fundraising: $267,688.34
Occupation: Attorney and co-founder of Lowrey Parady Lebsack, LLC
Notable Endorsements: Denver Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Democrats of America, Run for Something
Their policy ideas:

  • Co-responders and expansion of the STAR program
  • City subsidies for residential electrification
  • Ending homelessness sweeps

Penfield Tate III
Cash on Hand: $61,229.79
Reported Fundraising: $62,210.00
Occupation: Formerly served as a Colorado State Representative and Colorado State Senator
Notable Endorsements: Not listed
Their policy ideas:

  • Housing first and adaptive reuse of underutilized spaces
  • Community policing
  • Enhanced public transportation

Jeff Walker   
Cash on Hand: $6,122.75
Reported Fundraising: $8,816.56
Occupation: Siting & Land Rights Senior Agent for Xcel Energy
Notable Endorsements: Past Chairs of the RTD Board of Directors Bill Elfenbein, Lorraine Anderson, Larry Hoy and Doug Tisdale.
Their policy ideas:

  • Safe outdoor spaces for people experiencing homelessness
  • A regional tax to develop funding resources for homelessness solutions
  • Improved sidewalks and bicycle infrastructure

Marty Zimmerman
Cash on Hand: $84,028.99
Reported Fundraising: $104,716.22
Occupation: Nonprofit work
Notable Endorsements: Not listed
Their policy ideas:

  • Increase public, private, and nonprofit coordination on homelessness
  • Use afterschool programming to divert crime
  • Focus infrastructure changes on high injury network areas

Need more background on these municipal elections?

Many folks are watching the Denver mayoral race to see which candidate will assume the mantle held by Michael Hancock for 12 years; however, let’s not forget there is still plenty going on in the races for City Council.

Candidates are running in newly drawn districts (per redistricting in 2022) and running with newly created campaign funds (per a 2018 Denver ballot measure that established the Fair Elections Fund). These new elements are converging for the first time this year, and it has created novelty in Denver’s political landscape. These seismic changes are also happening as five council members are either termed out of office or not seeking re-election.

The Denver municipal elections are scheduled for April 4, 2023. Given how crowded several of the races are, many seats are likely to go to a runoff on June 6, 2023.

Share your story!

We will also be hosting candidates at the Chamber to talk about our economic development strategies, policy priorities, small business support and leadership development programs.

If you have a story about what it’s like to do business in Denver that you think would be good for a prospective policy maker to understand, please share it with us! You can email your perspective on doing business in Denver to our Senior Government Affairs Manager Jessica Kostelnik at

Rent Control Passes First Hurdle

House Bill 1115 passes first committee

On Wednesday night, members of the House Committee on Transportation, Housing and Local Government passed House Bill 1115 out of committee on an almost party line vote—eight in favor and five opposed, with only one Democrat crossing party lines to vote no. Over 150 people were registered to testify on the issue, and the eight-hour conversation was contentious.

We delivered testimony to the committee emphasizing how disastrous this policy would be on future development and that—while affordability is a real problem—rent control would only exacerbate Colorado’s dire housing shortage. There does seem to be broad confusion about rent control as distinct from rent stabilization. We have yet to see material differences between those policies.

The bill now heads to the full House for a vote. Should the bill pass the House, it will move over to the Senate, where we are hoping for cooler (and less ideological heads) to prevail in stopping the legislation.

Less than 24 hours after Democrats on a Colorado House panel gave preliminary approval to the rent control bill, Governor Jared Polis indicated he is “skeptical” of the measure. If it makes its way to the Governor’s desk, we expect a firm and resounding veto. Governor Polis has expressed his opposition to rent control in favor of other affordability solutions, and it would be a significant departure if he allowed House Bill 1115 to become law.

Why we’re opposed to rent control

  • Where rent control is implemented, development stops. This suppresses housing supply, leading to more pressure on our severely underbuilt housing environment
  • Rent control leads to blight. Landlords are less able to repair and maintain their properties if rent is artificially suppressed.
  • We believe the best way to decrease rent prices is to increase supply, not suppress development by keeping rents artificially low.

Rent control in Denver?

House Bill 1115 would allow local governments to permit rent control. Due to the heated municipal election here in Denver, it is worth noting where the At-Large candidates fall on this issue.

For rent control or rent stabilization:

• Will Chan
• Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez
• Sarah Parady
• Penfield Tate III
• Marty Zimmerman

Against rent control or rent stabilization:

• Dominic Angelo Diaz
• Tim Hoffman
• Travis Leiker
• Jeff Walker

Bills We Took a Position On


  • House Bill 1174 requires annual reporting from the Commissioner of Insurance on the cost of rebuilding homes in the event of a total loss, and it uses that estimated value to measure against the cost of value of private insurance coverage.
  • Senate Bill 98 directs the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics to adopt rules that require disclosures about payments made to drivers and procedures regarding driver termination for delivery network companies and transportation network companies.

Read our full stances.

Join Our Advocacy Network!

We work to keep our members informed about impactful policy and create opportunities for them to take a stance. However, in today’s political and policy climate, it is important to show lawmakers the people behind the businesses they are affecting.

In addition to policy email updates, the Chamber has an action platform that allows the unique voices of the business community to be heard across the state.

Sign-up to join our advocacy network and help us promote investment, job creation and a competitive business climate in Colorado and Metro Denver.