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Former state Sen. Penfield Tate joins 2019 Denver mayoral race

Author: Colorado Politics - October 1, 2018 - Updated: October 1, 2018

Penfield W. Tate III. (Photo courtesy Kutak Rock)

Former Colorado state Sen. Penfield Tate has thrown his hat in the ring for Denver’s 2019 mayoral race, Denver’s KMGH reports.

“Over time I’ve been watching what’s going on in our city and frankly, I’ve been concerned,” Tate told the station’s Tony Kovaleski. “I just felt it was time for the city to move in a different direction.”

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock ran essentially unopposed for his office in 2015. But the May 2019 election could prove tougher, with potentially stronger opponents, questions about his relationship with the development community in the face of a gentrified Denver and a suggestive text-message scandal hanging over his campaign.

> RELATED: Denver Mayor Hancock building war chest for 2019 re-election bid

Additional challengers include businessman Kayvan Khalatbari, known for his “socially responsible” Denver businesses including Sexy Pizza and Birdy Magazine, and his advocacy for the arts, cannabis and the homeless; Kalyn Heffernan, Ken Simpson, Marcus Giavanni, and Stephen Evans (also known as Chairman Seku).

Tate’s father, Penfield Tate II, was Boulder’s first and, to date, only African-American mayor, serving in that post 1974-76 after a stint on the council. He led the council in amending the city’s human rights ordinance in 1974 to protect employees and job seekers from discrimination on the basis of “sexual preference.”

That policy was considered so radical at the time, even in Boulder, that voters immediately repealed it at the ballot box and turned their ire on Tate and fellow council members. He survived a recall that toppled a colleague, but the episode ultimately cost him re-election.

Perhaps inevitably, the political path of his son and namesake — a prominent Denver attorney who served in both chambers of the legislature, on the cabinet of Democratic former Gov. Roy Romer, and at the helm of the state Democratic Party — began with his father’s legacy of political activism.

In a September Q&A with Colorado Politics, the younger Tate told us that his dad, who died in 1993 after battling cancer, was “a guiding force” for him who “intrinsically understood discrimination against one is discrimination against all.”

As to a possible mayoral run, Tate told our Dan Njegomir that he would not discuss a “Tate administration,” but that any administration should aspire to:

  • Meeting the needs of the people and our community as the first priority. Decisions should be vetted by understanding how well they positively impact people.
  • Transparency and openness. Politicians certainly don’t have all the answers, but people working together do. Every neighborhood and community needs to not only be heard but have their concerns listened to and heeded and made part of the process of governing.
  • Being ethical.
  • Working collaboratively with a City Council that is a true partner.
  • Assembling a team that is as talented as, if not more talented than any City Hall in the world and as diverse as our city. A team that is bold, creative, dynamic, able to think outside the box and knows how to get things done.

You can read the interview, in its entirety, here.

Colorado Politics Opinion Editor Dan Njegomir and contributor Adam McCoy contributed to this report.

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics, formerly The Colorado Statesman, is the state's premier political news publication, renowned for its award-winning journalism. The publication is also the oldest political news outlet in the state, in continuous publication since 1898. Colorado Politics covers the stories behind the stories in Colorado's state Capitol and across the Centennial State, focusing on politics, public policy and elections with in-depth reporting on the people behind the campaigns — from grassroots supporters to campaign managers and the candidates and issues themselves.