Denver mayoral candidates Michael Hancock and Jamie Giellis debating on the Aaron Harber Show

Denver mayoral candidates Michael Hancock and Jamie Giellis debating during a taping of the Aaron Harber Show on May 24, 2019

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock accidentally dropped a drinking glass that shattered at the beginning of a Denver mayoral debate with challenger Jamie Giellis during the taping of the Aaron Harber Show on Friday afternoon.

One shard caused a slight cut to Giellis' foot and host Harber handed her a tissue.

And plenty of verbal sharp edges followed during the two-hour debate in LoDo.

The two candidates in the June 4 runoff election sparred on issues ranging from homelessness, affordable housing, transportation and how long it takes to get a business permit from the city.

Take for example, this exchange over the homelessness problem.

After Giellis cited an auditor’s report that was critical of the city’s response to homelessness, Hancock countered that the city was already moving to address those issues before the report came out.

“This city has been consistent and resilient and diligent on trying to house the homeless. That’s why we see the 34% decrease in homelessness over the last eight years. Because we stay focused and patient with those individuals,” Hancock said

“I don’t think the community thinks we’re winning on homelessness,” Giellis shot back.

“I’m not saying we’re winning,” Hancock replied.

A few minutes later, Giellis accused Hancock of rolling out proposals for new cabinet level department of Housing and Homelessness and another for Transportation and Infrastructure in response to criticisms raised during the general election campaign.

Again, Hancock noted that the transportation department proposal had been in the works for two years before it was announced.

“This, I think, is an underlying indication that you have no idea how government operates,” Hancock said.

“It is incredibly patronizing to say, ‘You don’t understand. You don’t understand. You have no idea.'” Giellis replied.

“I am in this race because I heard from the community that there is frustration,” she added. “62% of the voters on election day voted for someone other than you.”

“75% voted against you,” Hancock shot back.

The sharp exchanges may have been partly a result of the program format, which was more conversational and less formal than the typical 90 seconds given to candidates for answers and responses in previous debates.

Or it may be that these two candidates are at the end of a long campaign in which they were taking part in their fifth debate in the last 11 days with just 11 days left until the election.

Or it may be a reflection that there are a lot of issues where they don’t find much to agree upon.

The debate will air Sunday night at 8 p.m. on KDCO-TV Channel 3 and be available online at

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