Several former opponents in the Denver mayoral race and two state senators endorsed Mike Johnston for mayor during a Wednesday press conference in Civic Center Park.
Ean Tafoya, Al Gardner, Terrance Roberts and James Walsh, joined Sens. Julie Gonzales and James Coleman in endorsing Johnston at the gray, slightly rainy mid-morning event.
The threat of rain may have discouraged some, but Tafoya looked to the rain with optimism.
"Rain is about renewal," he said. It represents the "change that we're seeking in our society."
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"Together, we can take advantage of the federal and state money that people here on this stage have worked together to create," he said. "I do believe that Mike is the kind of leader who listens to us... We're seeking compassionate solutions for those who are most vulnerable in our community."
Tafoya commended Johnston for taking himself and his children to a migrant camp and working with and serving homeless people, saying he believes it opened their eyes to what people are experiencing. As far as Denver's choice come June 6, Tafoya said the choice should be simple when given a choice between someone who wants to "incarcerate those who struggle" and those who want to "build housing our community needs."
Tafoya referenced Kelly Brough's plan to arrest homeless individuals if they refuse services as a last resort, which resulted in backlash. Brough defended her position by saying most homeless people want to find safer conditions and will accept support, adding her goal is to keep people from living in inhumane conditions, according to previous Denver Gazette reporting.
Rather than focusing on Johnston's plans for the future, Coleman called back to Johnston's time as a state senator. Specifically, he praised Johnston's decision to house his community office in "the heart of the community" a powerful one, especially since the district stretches from Denver International Airport to downtown. Coleman referenced a Biblical verse, "ye shall know them by their fruits," when highlighting Johnston's past work for the community.
Coleman represents the same district, 33, as Johnston when he served as state senator between 2009 and 2017.
"The things that he's been able to do for all of the folks in the City and County of Denver and all folks across the state of Colorado. He's been able to do for those who have less," Coleman said. "Poverty doesn't have a particular color, doesn't have a particular ethnicity, everybody's in need of help."
Gonzales, who stayed out of the first round of the mayors race to see who would show up and how they lived their values, chose Johnston because she believes Johnston can be a leader who listens, despite disagreements.
"It is incumbent upon us now as Denverites to make sure that the mayor we choose will be bold, unapologetic, creative and resilient in the way in which we make sure that those among us who have the least are afforded the same opportunities as everyone else," she said. "When we work together across geography, across community, we are unstoppable."
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