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The runoff for Denver City Council’s District 10 seat features newcomer Chris Hinds, left, and challenging incumbent Wayne New.

The runoff for Denver City Council’s District 10 seat features newcomer Chris Hinds challenging incumbent Wayne New.

New and Hinds emerged out of the first round of city municipal elections on May 7 as the top two vote-getters — New earning 39.1% and Hinds receiving 30.3% of the vote — securing them each a spot in the runoff race.

Since none of the candidates earned a clear majority — at least 50% of the vote — a runoff is required.

Eight of the 13 Denver City Council seats were filled election night, but five remained undetermined, kicking off the runoffs.

Denver City Council members earn annual salaries of $91,915 and the body president makes $102,928. Council terms run four years; members can serve up to three terms.

The race for District 10 — which  includes Central Denver’s North Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park, Congress Park, Country Club, Cherry Creek and Civic Center neighborhoods — will be held on June 4.

New and Hinds faced off in a runoff debate May 23 produced by Denver 8 TV, providing a portrait of the candidates and how they stand on some district issues.

New, vying for his second term on the Denver City Council, said his background and experience on the council makes him the best candidate. When it comes to New’s accomplishments on council, he points to a Colfax leadership group he helped form that promotes economic development and affordable housing on Colfax Avenue.

Additionally, he used some of his office budget to fund a traffic study in Congress Park and 7th Avenue neighborhoods to determine traffic calming and safety improvements and promote walkability of the area. Furthermore, his office budget went toward electronic speed signs in the area to provide driver feedback and collect traffic data.

New also boasts about the slot home regulations he worked on, which helped close zoning loopholes and ban them in low density neighborhoods.

Prior to joining public life, New spent his career in healthcare management at a handful of different hospitals including Children’s, where he served as chief operating officer. He later became a consultant with the Child Health Corporation of America. He is also a fellow of the American College of Hospital Executives.

Hinds’ campaign platform focuses on affordable housing, 20-minute neighborhoods, a transportation system that prioritizes people over cars, safer streets and his support of legalized cannabis.

The needs of Denverites should be put before the desires of developers, Hinds’ website states. He adds there should be a master plan that drives development in the city, in lieu of “willy nilly” growth. And development shouldn’t mean residents can no longer afford to live in their community.

Denver should return to an old concept of 20-minute neighborhoods — the idea being residents should be able to reach anything in 20 minutes.

“We should encourage new development to make sure you can get dinner, groceries, entertainment or even a hammer all within a 20-minute walk, roll, bus or train ride,” Hinds’ campaign website reads.

As it relates to transportation, Hinds notes issues like narrow or crumbling sidewalks and a lack of protected bike lanes hinder transit options. Other forms of transportation — i.e mass transit, and biking — should be encouraged over driving, he says.

In 2008, Hinds was paralyzed from the chest down after suffering a severe car accident. In May 2018, legislation was signed into law in Colorado, with Hinds’ namesake, that closes loopholes to prevent the fraudulent use of disability parking.

Traffic in the heart of District 10

How would the candidates improve the experience of 6th Avenue, a city thoroughfare cutting through the heart of District 10? That was the gist of a submitted question posed to the candidates.

In response, Hinds said Denver must begin to think beyond the vehicle, especially considering that the city is expecting an additional 200,000 to move to Denver by 2040.

“We need to make sure our busted, broken sidewalks are fixed, we have a strong protected bike lane, and we improve our mass transit, and that will ultimately get people out of cars,” Hinds said.

New said a Congress Park traffic study was recently conducted which provided some recommendations on how to improve traffic congestion on 6th Avenue, along with 8th, 13th and 14th Avenues. He noted there are lots of issues with those streets including 6th Avenue, which is very dangerous for pedestrians looking to cross the street.

“We’re looking at trying to reduce the number of lanes on 6th Avenue,” New said, to help improve pedestrian safety.

Old street car rails still lay underneath 6th Avenue, and it would be interesting to bring back the street car as an alternative mode of transportation in the area, New said.

     

Denveright

In the wake of approval of the city’s Denveright plan — a comprehensive roadmap for city growth and development over the next 20 years — many residents have complained they weren’t heard or their comments fell on deaf ears during the drafting process.

Hinds said he sat on the Blueprint Denver taskforce, which makes up part of the Denveright comprehensive plan, and the city did “quite a bit of engagement in the neighborhood.”

He added however it's important to continue the conversation at the neighborhood level and for local officials to be involved in neighborhood plans moving forward.

While not directing addressing the Denveright drafting process, New said listening is among the core objectives of his City Council office.

He said he meets with constituents on Fridays over coffee and he runs a survey of district residents on every major city issue.

“I want their feedback and I want their opinions,” New said.

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