At Large – Healthier Denver

At-Large

Robin Kniech

Robin Kniech

Running for: At-Large (incumbent)
Supervised-Use Sites & the Opioid Crisis

Nationally, people are now more-likely to die from an opioid overdose than from a car crash. In Colorado, opioid-related deaths have tripled in the past fifteen years, and Denver’s rates of opioid- related deaths are markedly higher than that of the rest of the state. Last year, Denver City Council authorized a pilot supervised-use site, which would provide a safe space with trained professionals and medical supplies for people who use drugs but aren’t yet in recovery. Such sites are proven to drastically reduce harm and prevent death by overdose. They provide a pathway to recovery and there has been a positive association between using a supervised use site and starting in addiction treatment.


 

Do you support the continuance of the city’s plan to open a supervised use site in Denver (pending state legislation)?

In addition to your support or opposition of supervised use sites, what are your plans to address the opioid crisis in Denver?

 

Yes. Voted for the ordinance and will continue to not only support, but actively advocate for a supervised use site in Denver. I advocated for the first city funding to go to HRAC, and I would support expanded city funding for their work (including for supervised injection although they have said that it will not receive city funding to begin with). I also supported the mobile needle exchange ordinance. Expanding access to medication assisted outpatient treatment and in-patient treatment are both key pieces of Denver’s plan that I will continue to support and advocate for, including working with the new Caring for Denver board to ensure a portion of funding goes to support these models to the extent eligible.

Cash Bail

When people are accused of a crime, they often spend extraordinary amounts of time in jail because they are not able to afford and quickly pay even low amounts of bail. The longer a person sits behind bars, the higher their chance of experiencing physical and mental health issues due to inadequate care is. Additional consequences can include loss of employment and/or housing. The bond industry further exacerbates the health effects of the cash bail system by exploiting low-income people and people of color, adding stress and fear to an already difficult situation, and worsening the inequitable negative mental and physical health outcomes of the accused.


 

Do you support ending cash bail in Denver? Why or why not?

What other policies would you pursue to reduce the detrimental health effects of the existing criminal justice system?

Yes, this is an emerging best practice that Denver should pursue. I’m proud of already having voted to remove excess fees on bail and other processing fees that we discovered were keeping people in jail unnecessarily, as well as of our jail’s practice of ensuring access to medications including hormones for transgender inmates and medications to assist with weaning off of an opioid, and their practice of working with inmates to enroll with Medicaid or insurance upon release. It is my understanding that more work needs to be done on streamlining the mental health/medication transition, however, and again I would look to see if there is a gap that Caring for Denver can provide to help reduce the risk of re-arrest after release. There is a significant set of reforms underway led by Denver District Court and the DA for diversion, and I will be an advocate to continue to grow these programs that help keep folks out of jail.

Tobacco & E-Cigarettes

Colorado’s kids use e-cigarettes at twice the national rate and 91,000 of our youth will die prematurely from the health effects of tobacco. Annual health care costs in our state from the effects of smoking are $1.89 billion. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Denver. There are a number of proven ways to stem the tobacco and e-cigarette crisis: licensure of tobacco and e-cigarette sales, increasing taxes on those products, and raising the age of purchase to 21 are some the most effective.


 

Do you support raising the age of purchase to 21 for cigarettes and other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco?

Do you support enacting licensure requirements and increasing the taxes on tobacco and nicotine products for the city of Denver?

Yes on raising the age (if that is within City authority, I have not researched it previously), and yes on raising the taxes, with the caveat that as you may know, we could lose some state revenue if we do raise taxes, so we need to fully analyze and ensure we are garnering more than we lose if we go our own way. I thought we recently did expand our authority to regulate e-cigarette sellers so need to understand how your proposed “requirements” differ from the last bill we passed sponsored by CM Lopez.

 

Mental Health Care

The need for improved mental and behavioral health care in our city is vast: 20 percent of Denverites deal with a daily mental health or addiction issue. In Colorado, suicide is the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 24 and 1-in-8 Denver Public School students have seriously thought about suicide. Currently, only 40 percent of people with daily mental health or addiction issues receive adequate care. Recognizing the severity of the issue, Denver voters in 2018 overwhelmingly passed Initiated Ordinance 301, also known as Caring 4 Denver. The 0.25 percent sales tax will fund mental health services, facilities, suicide prevention, opioid and substance use prevention, first-responder training, and more.


 

A to-be-determined nonprofit organization will be administering the Caring 4 Denver funds. How would you prioritize utilizing the funds to address mental and behavioral health and addiction needs in the city of Denver? What can the city do beyond Caring 4 Denver to address these issues?

See above. Top priority should be filling gaps with evidence-based approaches. Rather than dictate
priorities without the data (not just on the scale of problems, but on actual waiting lists, gaps in services
etc), I believe in following the data but would like the following to be considered:

1) Opioid treatment (because of the lethality factor and the proven shortage of access to treatment)
2) Exploring whether post-release inmate care is a gap that needs filling/is eligible.
3) Youth mental health (one of three priorities for Denver’s Youth Commission)

I do think there are some barriers that are beyond the city’s ability to impact alone, such as provider
shortages, but I believe in ensuring our office of Behavioral Health can continue to site at regional and
state tables to raise issues where we need higher profiles.

 

Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

In Denver, the number of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness between 2015 and 2018 has increased 58 percent – from 827 to 1,308 people. Unsheltered means persons not in places meant for habitation, i.e. streets, bridges, abandoned buildings, and outdoor camps. Moreover, 30 percent of the Metro Denver homeless population reported experiencing chronic homelessness. The City of Denver is seeking solutions to assist individuals experiencing homelessness in our community that strike the right balance between housing options, shelters, and resources for these individuals to transition into a stable environment long-term.


 

How do we best serve the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness in Denver?

What specific policies would you pursue and/or ordinances would you modify?

Our number one priority must be on building more permanent, supportive housing as a final destination off the streets. Almost every chronically homeless individual who refused shelter but was offered housing took it (with only 2 exceptions out of several hundred in the SIB program), breaking the myth that people want to be on the streets. I fully support and am proud of the city’s progress on growing the number of “Housing First” homes for individuals exiting homelessness. We have a model that works, and our next challenges are increasing the pace of production as our reliance on competitive tax credits has slowed our ability to build supportive housing. Second, is to ensure that we can site new housing. I’m leading a process to create a better model for community engagement to reduce the barriers of neighborhood
opposition.

Our next highest priority is on better utilizing our emergency shelter services as a pipeline into permanent housing, and the coordination of existing services. Centralized intake and coordinated transportation could have a significant impact on the queuing for services that impacts perceptions near downtown. It is not a rationale system currently, and it is my understanding that providers are at the table on a revamp.

Finally, I believe we must acknowledge the limited quantity and pace of supportive housing availability and focus more land, funding and code reform policy on alternative, regulated alternatives to camping. Specifically, tiny home villages or regulated camper/RV spaces that include restrooms, trash and supportive service pipelines to permanent housing.

Climate Change

Colorado is facing disproportionate effects of climate change. Here in Denver, we are seeing substantial increases in the number of days each year topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Those temperatures exacerbate illnesses like asthma and cardiovascular disease, cause earlier snow melt, increase ozone pollution, and worsen long-standing water supply problems. The city has created the 80×50 Climate Action Plan, which highlights key strategies in the three sectors most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in the city: buildings, transportation, and electricity generation. Denver’s long-term greenhouse gas reduction goal is to reduce emissions 80 percent below 2005 baselines levels by 2050. Today, many clean energy technologies, such as wind, solar, and battery storage, are available.


 

Do you support the city’s 80×50 Climate Action Plan?

What additional policies or practices should be implemented to protect our air, water, and the public’s health?

I participated in the development of Denver’s 80×50 plan and proudly support it. I also co-sponsored the
proclamation in late 2018 to commit Denver to achieving 100% renewable energy across our community by 2030 called Energize Denver which directly contributed to commercial buildings adopting the plan reducing energy use by 4.5% from 2015-2017. Further, I support RTD in committing to renewable and clean energy in its own fleet vehicles as technology improves.

Aside from renewables I have been the leading advocate for city-wide curbside compost to divert waste away from landfills. My next intended step is to ensure compost is free to all residents and increase incentives for recycling and composting.

Finally, as our city grows and changes, it’s important to maintain and sustain open space, parks, community
gardens, and places to experience the outdoors for all communities. I’ve been a strong voice for open space
investments in major redevelopment areas, and I led the effort to fulfill the community’s vision of transforming a blighted area in Globeville into the Platte Farm Open Space for residents to safely enjoy.

 

Debbie Ortega

Debbie Ortega

Running for: At-Large (incumbent)
Supervised-Use Sites & the Opioid Crisis

Nationally, people are now more-likely to die from an opioid overdose than from a car crash. In Colorado, opioid-related deaths have tripled in the past fifteen years, and Denver’s rates of opioid- related deaths are markedly higher than that of the rest of the state. Last year, Denver City Council authorized a pilot supervised-use site, which would provide a safe space with trained professionals and medical supplies for people who use drugs but aren’t yet in recovery. Such sites are proven to drastically reduce harm and prevent death by overdose. They provide a pathway to recovery and there has been a positive association between using a supervised use site and starting in addiction treatment.


 

Do you support the continuance of the city’s plan to open a supervised use site in Denver (pending state legislation)?

In addition to your support or opposition of supervised use sites, what are your plans to address the opioid crisis in Denver?

Yes, I support the continuance of the city’s plan to open a supervised use site in Denver. First, the state has to give us the local authority to do so and then the Denver Office of Environmental Health will put the proper regulations in place and pick a site – this has to include them being a good neighbor. I think this is a first-step – which I am supportive of – and I am open to other ideas Healthier Colorado/Denver has to addressing this issue as well.

Cash Bail

When people are accused of a crime, they often spend extraordinary amounts of time in jail because they are not able to afford and quickly pay even low amounts of bail. The longer a person sits behind bars, the higher their chance of experiencing physical and mental health issues due to inadequate care is. Additional consequences can include loss of employment and/or housing. The bond industry further exacerbates the health effects of the cash bail system by exploiting low-income people and people of color, adding stress and fear to an already difficult situation, and worsening the inequitable negative mental and physical health outcomes of the accused.


 

Do you support ending cash bail in Denver? Why or why not?

What other policies would you pursue to reduce the detrimental health effects of the existing criminal justice system?

Yes, I support ending cash bail in Denver, for all of the reasons you listed above.

 I am a member of the Crime Prevention and Control Commission – this is where we are working on some of this stuff – looking at different ways of expediting the process, not keeping people in jail for misdemeanor offenses. It’s the collaboration of al of the different entities that make up the CPCC that has allowed us to take a more comprehensive approach to solving some of these issues.

Tobacco & E-Cigarettes

Colorado’s kids use e-cigarettes at twice the national rate and 91,000 of our youth will die prematurely from the health effects of tobacco. Annual health care costs in our state from the effects of smoking are $1.89 billion. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Denver. There are a number of proven ways to stem the tobacco and e-cigarette crisis: licensure of tobacco and e-cigarette sales, increasing taxes on those products, and raising the age of purchase to 21 are some the most effective.


 

Do you support raising the age of purchase to 21 for cigarettes and other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco?

Do you support enacting licensure requirements and increasing the taxes on tobacco and nicotine products for the city of Denver?

I would support raising the age of purchase to 21 – the health effects really highlight the importance of that. I also support enacting licensure requirements and increasing the taxes on tobacco and nicotine products for the city of Denver.  

Mental Health Care

The need for improved mental and behavioral health care in our city is vast: 20 percent of Denverites deal with a daily mental health or addiction issue. In Colorado, suicide is the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 24 and 1-in-8 Denver Public School students have seriously thought about suicide. Currently, only 40 percent of people with daily mental health or addiction issues receive adequate care. Recognizing the severity of the issue, Denver voters in 2018 overwhelmingly passed Initiated Ordinance 301, also known as Caring 4 Denver. The 0.25 percent sales tax will fund mental health services, facilities, suicide prevention, opioid and substance use prevention, first-responder training, and more.


 

A to-be-determined nonprofit organization will be administering the Caring 4 Denver funds. How would you prioritize utilizing the funds to address mental and behavioral health and addiction needs in the city of Denver? What can the city do beyond Caring 4 Denver to address these issues?

I think all of the things the 0.25 percent sales tax will fund are top priority – funding mental health services, facilities, suicide prevention, opioid and substance use prevention, first-responder training, etc.

We have legislation that will create the special revenue fund for the taxes to be collected; there are certain agencies that will oversee the pass through of those resources — ensuring that we have some oversight and are not automatically passing them on. The prioritization will be done by a separate body, not City Council. I think it will be similar to the Denver Preschool Program, where council appointed people to serve in that body and then they’ll report back to us.

Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

In Denver, the number of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness between 2015 and 2018 has increased 58 percent – from 827 to 1,308 people. Unsheltered means persons not in places meant for habitation, i.e. streets, bridges, abandoned buildings, and outdoor camps. Moreover, 30 percent of the Metro Denver homeless population reported experiencing chronic homelessness. The City of Denver is seeking solutions to assist individuals experiencing homelessness in our community that strike the right balance between housing options, shelters, and resources for these individuals to transition into a stable environment long-term.


 

How do we best serve the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness in Denver?

What specific policies would you pursue and/or ordinances would you modify?

Right now, we’re looking to make changes to the Group-living ordinance. This will ideally create more availability and opportunities for more affordable housing options in our city, without having to build a bunch of new housing somewhere else – which is time consuming and very expensive.

Generally, I think we need to create a variety of options: tiny homes, micro-units and transitional housing.

Climate Change

Colorado is facing disproportionate effects of climate change. Here in Denver, we are seeing substantial increases in the number of days each year topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Those temperatures exacerbate illnesses like asthma and cardiovascular disease, cause earlier snow melt, increase ozone pollution, and worsen long-standing water supply problems. The city has created the 80×50 Climate Action Plan, which highlights key strategies in the three sectors most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in the city: buildings, transportation, and electricity generation. Denver’s long-term greenhouse gas reduction goal is to reduce emissions 80 percent below 2005 baselines levels by 2050. Today, many clean energy technologies, such as wind, solar, and battery storage, are available.


 

Do you support the city’s 80×50 Climate Action Plan?

What additional policies or practices should be implemented to protect our air, water, and the public’s health?

Yes, I support the city’s 80×50 Climate Action Plan.  

Before shutting down any industry, I think we need to make sure we are creating opportunities for re-training and making sure those folks have access to those new jobs – like the issue of hydrogen, one of the fuel-cell technologies.

In the case of expanding the I-70 highway, things like air monitoring are critical.

Lynne Langdon

Lynne Langdon

Running for: At-Large
Supervised-Use Sites & the Opioid Crisis

Nationally, people are now more-likely to die from an opioid overdose than from a car crash. In Colorado, opioid-related deaths have tripled in the past fifteen years, and Denver’s rates of opioid- related deaths are markedly higher than that of the rest of the state. Last year, Denver City Council authorized a pilot supervised-use site, which would provide a safe space with trained professionals and medical supplies for people who use drugs but aren’t yet in recovery. Such sites are proven to drastically reduce harm and prevent death by overdose. They provide a pathway to recovery and there has been a positive association between using a supervised use site and starting in addiction treatment.


 

Do you support the continuance of the city’s plan to open a supervised use site in Denver (pending state legislation)?

In addition to your support or opposition of supervised use sites, what are your plans to address the opioid crisis in Denver?

 

This is a tough issue, I would like to see the city try other methods beyond safe space to help tackle addiction. I am open to alternative therapies and possible health activities that use “mind and body” techniques some psychologists are now using these to bring individuals out of destructive states.  

Cash Bail

When people are accused of a crime, they often spend extraordinary amounts of time in jail because they are not able to afford and quickly pay even low amounts of bail. The longer a person sits behind bars, the higher their chance of experiencing physical and mental health issues due to inadequate care is. Additional consequences can include loss of employment and/or housing. The bond industry further exacerbates the health effects of the cash bail system by exploiting low-income people and people of color, adding stress and fear to an already difficult situation, and worsening the inequitable negative mental and physical health outcomes of the accused.


 

Do you support ending cash bail in Denver? Why or why not?

What other policies would you pursue to reduce the detrimental health effects of the existing criminal justice system?

I do believe this is a problem that we need to address.  I don’t believe those who are waiting for a trial who cannot afford bail should be subject to losing their jobs and or losing their homes or families (dependent upon the risk factor to the public)  I am in favor of making positive changes towards this matter and other rehabilitation options for the criminal justice system.

Tobacco & E-Cigarettes

Colorado’s kids use e-cigarettes at twice the national rate and 91,000 of our youth will die prematurely from the health effects of tobacco. Annual health care costs in our state from the effects of smoking are $1.89 billion. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Denver. There are a number of proven ways to stem the tobacco and e-cigarette crisis: licensure of tobacco and e-cigarette sales, increasing taxes on those products, and raising the age of purchase to 21 are some the most effective.


 

Do you support raising the age of purchase to 21 for cigarettes and other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco?

Do you support enacting licensure requirements and increasing the taxes on tobacco and nicotine products for the city of Denver?

Yes.

Mental Health Care

The need for improved mental and behavioral health care in our city is vast: 20 percent of Denverites deal with a daily mental health or addiction issue. In Colorado, suicide is the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 24 and 1-in-8 Denver Public School students have seriously thought about suicide. Currently, only 40 percent of people with daily mental health or addiction issues receive adequate care. Recognizing the severity of the issue, Denver voters in 2018 overwhelmingly passed Initiated Ordinance 301, also known as Caring 4 Denver. The 0.25 percent sales tax will fund mental health services, facilities, suicide prevention, opioid and substance use prevention, first-responder training, and more.


 

A to-be-determined nonprofit organization will be administering the Caring 4 Denver funds. How would you prioritize utilizing the funds to address mental and behavioral health and addiction needs in the city of Denver? What can the city do beyond Caring 4 Denver to address these issues?

I would listen to those who are dealing with these issues and see where they and those who are working with them feel the funds need to be prioritized.  It is not my decision alone to make. I dealt with depression issues in my early 20’s . I know that support and talking about it were key to helping me get through that period of my life.  I don’t have any immediate new answers to give you other than we need to destigmatize these issues so individuals feel okay with acknowledging they are struggling.

 

Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

In Denver, the number of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness between 2015 and 2018 has increased 58 percent – from 827 to 1,308 people. Unsheltered means persons not in places meant for habitation, i.e. streets, bridges, abandoned buildings, and outdoor camps. Moreover, 30 percent of the Metro Denver homeless population reported experiencing chronic homelessness. The City of Denver is seeking solutions to assist individuals experiencing homelessness in our community that strike the right balance between housing options, shelters, and resources for these individuals to transition into a stable environment long-term.


 

How do we best serve the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness in Denver?

What specific policies would you pursue and/or ordinances would you modify?

 Again, I am going to listen to the people who are going through this and those who are currently running shelters and resources to see where our efforts can best be spent.  There are many different reasons why individuals are homeless, so we need to open ourselves up to providing more varied solutions to helping them get back on their feet. For not all individuals will need they same things.  I almost lost my own home in 2010 and therefore, I am very empathetic to this situation and these people.

Climate Change

Colorado is facing disproportionate effects of climate change. Here in Denver, we are seeing substantial increases in the number of days each year topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Those temperatures exacerbate illnesses like asthma and cardiovascular disease, cause earlier snow melt, increase ozone pollution, and worsen long-standing water supply problems. The city has created the 80×50 Climate Action Plan, which highlights key strategies in the three sectors most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in the city: buildings, transportation, and electricity generation. Denver’s long-term greenhouse gas reduction goal is to reduce emissions 80 percent below 2005 baselines levels by 2050. Today, many clean energy technologies, such as wind, solar, and battery storage, are available.


 

Do you support the city’s 80×50 Climate Action Plan?

What additional policies or practices should be implemented to protect our air, water, and the public’s health?

YES , YES    – we need to move towards “proven” green options every chance we can!

Tony Pigford

Tony Pigford

Running for: At-Large
Supervised-Use Sites & the Opioid Crisis

Nationally, people are now more-likely to die from an opioid overdose than from a car crash. In Colorado, opioid-related deaths have tripled in the past fifteen years, and Denver’s rates of opioid- related deaths are markedly higher than that of the rest of the state. Last year, Denver City Council authorized a pilot supervised-use site, which would provide a safe space with trained professionals and medical supplies for people who use drugs but aren’t yet in recovery. Such sites are proven to drastically reduce harm and prevent death by overdose. They provide a pathway to recovery and there has been a positive association between using a supervised use site and starting in addiction treatment.


 

Do you support the continuance of the city’s plan to open a supervised use site in Denver (pending state legislation)?

In addition to your support or opposition of supervised use sites, what are your plans to address the opioid crisis in Denver?

 

The city should be commended on working on a supervised-use site, and I support those efforts. Every City, county and town are facing and struggling with addiction to opioid use and we must look to best practices that are working and implement them within Denver. We should be a national model on how to combat, educate and treat addiction with rapid action and community partnerships that bring in public, private and non-profit resources in truly coordinated efforts.

I will also work to address three key areas that will work to address the crisis.

First- Shifting our mindset from a punishment only mindset to a safety net program where treatment and pathway to treatment and governmental services are the priority over the criminal justice system.

Second Finding a pathway to fight homelessness within the city. We must expand our services to keep people in safe and stable housing. From working to control rents, increasing our affordable housing stock and expanding our housing options for communities to get back on their feet while they recover and get mental health and addiction treatment.

Three Creating a pathway from addiction to work. It is hard enough to find gainful employment with a conviction. Employers who hire formerly incarcerated members of society often overlook candidates with addiction related convictions because of relapse issues. I want to work with the city, businesses and non-profit partners to find true pathways to gainful employment. From apprenticeships within organized labor to trades / skills training that will ensure our people have steady income and support during their training.

Cash Bail

When people are accused of a crime, they often spend extraordinary amounts of time in jail because they are not able to afford and quickly pay even low amounts of bail. The longer a person sits behind bars, the higher their chance of experiencing physical and mental health issues due to inadequate care is. Additional consequences can include loss of employment and/or housing. The bond industry further exacerbates the health effects of the cash bail system by exploiting low-income people and people of color, adding stress and fear to an already difficult situation, and worsening the inequitable negative mental and physical health outcomes of the accused.


 

Do you support ending cash bail in Denver? Why or why not?

What other policies would you pursue to reduce the detrimental health effects of the existing criminal justice system?

I fully support ending cash bail in Denver. Cash bail is something out of Dickens, where people are stuck in jails for being poor. Where need to focus more on pre-trial supervision services. We must shift our budget and enforcement programs away from incarceration only to a treatment and service approach where we can provide for people support, education and access rather than being punished for poor choices, or choices made under duress, mental health issues and addiction.

Tobacco & E-Cigarettes

Colorado’s kids use e-cigarettes at twice the national rate and 91,000 of our youth will die prematurely from the health effects of tobacco. Annual health care costs in our state from the effects of smoking are $1.89 billion. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Denver. There are a number of proven ways to stem the tobacco and e-cigarette crisis: licensure of tobacco and e-cigarette sales, increasing taxes on those products, and raising the age of purchase to 21 are some the most effective.


 

Do you support raising the age of purchase to 21 for cigarettes and other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco?

Do you support enacting licensure requirements and increasing the taxes on tobacco and nicotine products for the city of Denver?

I support raising the age of tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21. Low income communities and communities of color are more likely to get addicted to tobacco products and this addiction comes with a lifetime of health altering side effects.

We as a community must look at new ways to fight the major increase of youth using and getting addicted to vaping and e-cigarette products. Licensure efforts have proven effective in states like California and New York, and I would support examining such efforts here in Denver to include e-cigarettes and other like products.

I am happy to review a plan to increase the tax on tobacco but we must also be aware of these taxes do lead to some reduction in smoking but it also has negative impact on tobacco users within the lowest of income brackets.

So, if our local government were to institute more licensing for the sale of tobacco/e-cigarette products, then we should be thinking creatively, and connect the monies raised there with educational efforts, which have shown to be the most effective in creating an anti-tobacco/cigarette culture.

Mental Health Care

The need for improved mental and behavioral health care in our city is vast: 20 percent of Denverites deal with a daily mental health or addiction issue. In Colorado, suicide is the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 24 and 1-in-8 Denver Public School students have seriously thought about suicide. Currently, only 40 percent of people with daily mental health or addiction issues receive adequate care. Recognizing the severity of the issue, Denver voters in 2018 overwhelmingly passed Initiated Ordinance 301, also known as Caring 4 Denver. The 0.25 percent sales tax will fund mental health services, facilities, suicide prevention, opioid and substance use prevention, first-responder training, and more.


 

A to-be-determined nonprofit organization will be administering the Caring 4 Denver funds. How would you prioritize utilizing the funds to address mental and behavioral health and addiction needs in the city of Denver? What can the city do beyond Caring 4 Denver to address these issues?

We must work across numerous platforms to address these critical issues. From using the funds for direct treatment to awareness. Direct treatment is the most critical issue, awareness that includes dispelling stigma and misunderstanding is severely lacking. I would like to see a blend of use of funds to ensure we can reach and serve the most in need of service while also connecting with hard to reach populations including within refugee and non-documented communities.

Beyond the Caring 4 Denver funds, we must work to find funds within the city’s budget to supplement and work within the framework of support that is needed. Supporting successful programs should be a priority because it is good for our population within the city and for our taxpaying public. Mental health and addiction issues put a strain on resources and by working to find solutions over just providing lifesaving services, we can save resources or reinvest the cost savings back into effective programs.

 

Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

In Denver, the number of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness between 2015 and 2018 has increased 58 percent – from 827 to 1,308 people. Unsheltered means persons not in places meant for habitation, i.e. streets, bridges, abandoned buildings, and outdoor camps. Moreover, 30 percent of the Metro Denver homeless population reported experiencing chronic homelessness. The City of Denver is seeking solutions to assist individuals experiencing homelessness in our community that strike the right balance between housing options, shelters, and resources for these individuals to transition into a stable environment long-term.


 

How do we best serve the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness in Denver?

What specific policies would you pursue and/or ordinances would you modify?

Denver currently prioritizes enforcement and collection over a house and treatment. By fining, jailing and creating records for homeless populations, we create a cycle of debt and increasing chances of denial of future employment. While there needs to be some enforcement for health and crime enforcement reasons, there is a healthier path with proper services.

Additionally, Denver (and Colorado more generally) has one of the worst records on renter protections in the country. Bottom line, we ignore many of the factors that not only perpetuate homelessness but help to cause it: indeed, during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and people all over the city and state losing their homes to banks or apartments because of job losses, council’s big idea was to pass a law making it illegal to sleep outdoors (unless of course you’re waiting for tickets to a Star Wars movie or to get into a big ski sale). While the city should be commended for trying to scale up employment efforts, I would see how we can creatively adapt and adopt the success Utah has with its “Housing First” plan; shifting our budget priorities from “public safety” to “safety net,” and strengthening renter protections, including advocating at the state level (and preparing for) rent control.

Climate Change

Colorado is facing disproportionate effects of climate change. Here in Denver, we are seeing substantial increases in the number of days each year topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Those temperatures exacerbate illnesses like asthma and cardiovascular disease, cause earlier snow melt, increase ozone pollution, and worsen long-standing water supply problems. The city has created the 80×50 Climate Action Plan, which highlights key strategies in the three sectors most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in the city: buildings, transportation, and electricity generation. Denver’s long-term greenhouse gas reduction goal is to reduce emissions 80 percent below 2005 baselines levels by 2050. Today, many clean energy technologies, such as wind, solar, and battery storage, are available.


 

Do you support the city’s 80×50 Climate Action Plan?

What additional policies or practices should be implemented to protect our air, water, and the public’s health?

Yes, I do support the Climate Action Plan and I would like to work within the city to increase transparency of where we are towards hitting our goals. We also need to consistently evaluate our budget and make adjustments as we see if we are hitting our targets.

Denver has the most polluted zip code in the country which is not only a disgrace, but we continue to further impact the health of Denver’s population with poor planning and construction efforts like the expansion of I-70 and other single occupancy vehicles.

I have several efforts I will be working to lead if elected.

First – Ensure we fight and ban any additional gas and oil development within the City and County of Denver. With new drilling technologies, drilling is taking place closer and under cities. We must be united in stopping any new drilling within our city limits. I am currently leading an effort to get every candidate running for municipal office to sign a public pledge to stand against new drilling and ensure we get local control to give the people of Denver a say in if they want fracking in our Denver neighborhoods.

Second – Expanding our green space and educating with communities about the benefits of nature play. By expanding and growing our green spaces even with micro parks, we can reduce greenhouse gases, improve our air quality and see additional health benefits that are connected to exercise and playing outside.

Third – Work to increase use of public and alternative forms of transportation. We can use city funds to increase the understanding and promote the different forms of transportation across the city.

Four – We must also work to expand the way cities incentivize the transition to cleaner technologies for companies and transportation within the city. From fees to large polluters to tax incentives to transition away from heavy pollution emitting trucks and construction equipment.

HEALTHIER DENVER

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