Big crowd turns out for Hick’s open house

By Jody Hope Strogoff
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper looked in the audience in the direction of his wife, Helen Thorpe, and acknowledged to supporters at his campaign headquarters last weekend that the two of them weren’t completely enthusiastic when they decided to go on this adventure to run for governor. “But I think there is an opportunity here that is compelling and for a lot of different reasons,” Hickenlooper told the large crowd assembled in the foyer of the building at 789 Sherman St., former site of the Denver Democratic Party offices.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper stands on a chair to talk to supporters at his campaign headquarters. “Whatever else in your life you had planned for the next eight months and two days, be ready to put it on hold from time to time because we’re going to need a lot of that collaborative spirit and we’re going to need a lot of that help,” he says.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

“People can argue and criticize our political system in this country all they want, but I think it’s arguable that this is the best system on earth,” Hickenlooper said as he opened his remarks.

“But it will never work if people don’t believe in their local government; in their mayors and their city councils and their governors and their legislators. And that’s sort of what got us into this in the very beginning,” he added about his decision to run for governor.

“Just for the record, I never ran for student council or class president or any of that stuff, so really it has been kind of a grand adventure... They say you can never have your cake and eat it too, but at least for this window I get to still be mayor... have that incredible joy, but I get to go around the state.”

As he traveled from Cañon City down to Pueblo the previous weekend, then up through Salida into Gunnison and over to Hotchkiss and back to Grand Junction, Hickenlooper said he heard about the issues and challenges in each of the communities. “Pretty much in all of them, the priorities certainly are all related and tied back to the economy,” Hickenlooper said.

“I think we’ve learned a lot of lessons in the City that can apply to the state of how you can cut red tape,” the Mayor said.

“The city government’s smaller now, less people, fewer people than when we started and yet we have cut chronic homelessness by well over 60 percent. We have created 311, we’re well on our way to planting a million trees — remarkable sustainability efforts. All with less people, with less resources,” Hickenlooper said.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper kisses Ben Roberts at his campaign headquarters kickoff. The race has officially begun!
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

“I think that’s the challenge in the modern world, how do we get (Colorado) where the state could be an engine to create jobs? And that is obviously going to be a priority,” the Mayor said to loud applause. “How do we get the economy back on its feet? But in that process, how do we reinvent government, make it in such a way that it does provide the services people need, but in a smaller, more nimble, more entrepreneurial way?

“It’s not rocket science, but it’s not easy,” Hickenlooper admitted.

“One thing we’ve learned again and again is what it really requires is lots and lots of participation. And that level of collaboration when we first ran for mayor was all about transparency and accountability and collaboration. Even just the fact that you’re all here is proof in the pudding that that sense of collaboration is alive and well.

“So whatever else in your life you had planned for the next eight months and two days,” Hickenlooper told supporters, “be ready to put it on hold from time to time because we’re going to need a lot of that collaborative spirit and we’re going to need a lot of that help,” the candidate said.

Jody@coloradostatesman.com

Mayor Hickenlooper pointed out three important women in his life: Chief of Staff Roxanne White, left, scheduler Valerie Nosler, middle, and of course his wife, Helen Thorpe, right.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman