May 7 — mark it down in your calendar. It’s the day when this city will decide what kind of path it wants to take into the near future. More than any national election, municipal elections are truly about the community you live and work in.
Denver is at a crossroads. The past years have seen an explosion in growth that has paralleled an economic boom. The city should be in the best position it’s ever been. Yet, there are deep concerns: Is the development smart? Is infrastructure matching population growth? Is affordable housing becoming a thing of the past? How well is the city managing the problems that typically accompany economic growth, specifically homelessness and crime? And, underlying it all, is the fear that a bust awaits not too far in the future.
Development is the hottest issue this election, because it ties into everything else. Build, build, build — but where is the attendant infrastructure, such as better public transportation and increased social services? Build, build, build — but where are the affordable units? Most everything being built right now falls into the luxury category. Will affordability only come when the crisis does, and these thousands of units lie empty?
For long-time Coloradans like me, the unprecedented growth can trigger nostalgia. But going back in time isn’t the solution either. It’s good that Colorado, and Denver, are growing. Visit a struggling city without industry and you’ll take a skyline of cranes over vacant lots any day. But development must be pursued intelligently. It must both retain what makes this city special while also firmly having a long-term vision that focuses on making this a liveable 21st-century city for all its residents.
That’s what’s on the ballot.
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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