Linkhart announces candidacy for Denver mayor

By Jimy Valenti
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Denver at-large Councilman Doug Linkhart announced his candidacy for mayor last week, stating that his 17-year involvement in state and city government as well as his background in economics separates him from the long list of potential and confirmed candidates.

Linkhart said current Mayor John Hickenlooper, if elected governor, would be leaving Denver in good shape, but that the city still faces underlying issues impeding long-term economic strength.

Denver mayoral candidate Doug Linkhart

He said the toughest job for Denver’s next mayor would be dealing with increased revenue obligations despite cutting $100 million from the city’s budget. Linkhart said programs must be reformed and embedded costs must be cut.

“Having been in the economic world for 30 years I have learned enough about how the economy works to know that we need more than just stimulus,” Linkhart said. “We need reforms, structural reforms, before we can have long-term economic prosperity.”

One of Linkhart’s goals as mayor would be to increase the city’s investments in sustainability and crime prevention. He said the Crime Prevention Control Commission is one way Denver can invest in people now to avoid increasing prison populations in the future.

“We just haven’t invested the kind of money that we need to avoid some of the spending that we are doing,” Linkhart said.

Linkhart served as Denver’s at-large councilman since 2003 after an eight-year stint as a Democratic state senator and two years as a state representative. On the council, he is proud of his work to improve Denver’s economy. He created Jumpstart, a program that sponsored economic forums on stimulating the economy. He also created an economic task force that eventually spurred the Economic Prosperity Center, a one-stop shop for people to acquire information on finding a job or starting a business.

In light of numerous controversies and lawsuits regarding the Denver Police Department, Linkhart said the department needs a stronger disciplinary policy to ensure the integrity of the police force.

“99 percent of the police do the right thing 99 percent of the time, but we just need to do a better job of handling those who don’t,” Linkhart said.

Linkhart was the lone dissenter on the council’s decision to limit medical marijuana in residential areas to six plants per person or 12 per household. He said the city’s role concerning MMJ needs to be pragmatic and that it must be treated like any other business. Linkhart doesn’t want the industry to be singled out.

Linkhart’s experience running city wide for the at-large council race is why he believes he can win the mayor’s seat. Linkhart said his 41,000 votes last election would be enough to secure victory in the mayor’s race. The councilman has not garnered any organizational endorsements yet at this early stage, but says he has support from nearly 250 people including past supporters, Democratic captains, labor leaders and neighborhood activists.

Linkhart’s only paid staff member so far is his campaign communications director. The councilman has a steering committee and campaign treasurer. He has not acquired any office space for a campaign headquarters. Linkhart said it will most likely take $1 million in the election’s first round and another one million in the second round of voting to secure the mayoral seat — approximately what Hickenlooper spent in the last election.

Jimy@coloradostatesman.com