Candi CdeBaca is no longer trying to hire her live-in girlfriend as a member of her staff at taxpayer’s expense.
Instead, Kerrie Joy Landell will remain a volunteer, the Denver City Council member who was elected in June said in a Monday afternoon statement.
CdeBaca’s office received approval for the hire with a waiver from the city ethics board this month, with Jane Feldman, the former executive director of the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission, saying it smacked of nepotism.
CdeBaca’s chief of staff Lisa Calderon told the board Landell would organize community meetings and respond to emails, Fox31’s Lori Jane Gliha was the first to report. The job as a community engagement liaison would have paid a minimum of about $51,000 a year.
In her statement late Monday afternoon, CdeBaca cited “transparency and accountability” to constituents in her decision to withdraw the job offer.
“Therefore, I am keeping my promise that I will listen to you, even when we disagree, in order to create a democracy that we can have confidence in,” she stated. “To that end, I am modifying my request seeking permission from the Ethics Board to hire my life partner, despite her many contributions, long hours and sacrifices to get me where I am. Instead, the waiver will simply seek permission to officially allow her to continue volunteering; yes, that is a requirement in the rules.”
The city’s ethics board granted CdeBaca a waiver on a rule that states, "[N]o officer, official, or employee shall appoint or hire a member of his or her immediate family for any type of employment, including, but not limited to, full time employment, part time employment, permanent employment, temporary employment, and contract employment.”
Domestic partners or others living with a city official are covered by the rule, according to the city’s code of ethics.
CdeBaca said in her statement Monday that Landell had campaigned at her side for 18 months.
“The way the media reduced Kerrie to simply my “girlfriend“ diminishes her life accomplishments and stature in the community," CdeBaca stated. "It also ignores the double standard practiced by powerful men in city government, including those who orchestrate fictional processes to hire their spouses or close associates.”
She did not cite an example of an elected official who had hired a spouse.
Landell moved to Denver in 2017. Her personal website doesn’t mention other government experience, besides serving in the Marine Corps.
“Kerrie has taken Denver by storm, speaking on stages such as the 2018 Women’s March, MLK Marade and Black Women’s March,” her website states. “She has performed at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, TEDx Mile High, and many universities and conferences in the state of Colorado. She is a public speaker and commissioned poet, being commissioned by organizations such as the Tennyson Center for Children and the American Heart Association for personalized work. She is also an instructor, teaching her students how to trust their inner voice and embrace their journey.”
Among programs mentioned on Landell's bio is her work with Project VOYCE at Manual High School.
CdeBaca is the founder and co-executive director of Project VOYCE, a Denver-based nonprofit that “develops transformation leaders in underrepresented communities by training, employing and organizing youth to address the root causes of inequity.”
The nonprofit reported total revenue of $434,634 in 2017, according to its tax filing.