Editorial Board: “Johnston’s message of confident optimism will resonate through a city in need of hope…”
The Denver Post editorial board today announced their endorsement of Mike Johnston in the 17-candidate field running for Mayor of Denver. The Board applauded Mike for his “record of independence,” for his work at a local non-profit as an “executive who knows how to develop and implement policy,” and for the “logic behind his approach, the research and care that went into developing the plan[s], and, critically, a willingness to adjust and be flexible as needs arise and circumstances change.” In a crowded field, the board concluded that “Mike Johnston stood out even in this field of stars.”
Read highlights from today’s endorsement:
- Over the past month, The Denver Post editorial board spent 45 minutes each with 15 of the 17 candidates for Denver mayor.
- Mike Johnston stood out even in this field of stars.
- With urgency, he will fight for this city, the way he fought at the state Capitol as our representative, the way he fought as a teacher for his students, the way he fought for winning ballot measures to fund universal kindergarten and affordable housing.
- His record of independence is unimpeachable.
- For the last several years, he led a charitable trust that made a demonstrable difference in the lives of Coloradans.
- Johnston’s work resulted in ballot measures that funded universal preschool with a nicotine tax and funded affordable housing projects using a small share of expected TABOR refund dollars.
- While other states waited months before universal testing was broadly available, many Colorado communities used COVIDCheck for fast turnaround results starting in May 2020.
- He is an executive who knows how to develop and implement policy.
- Johnston’s message of confident optimism will resonate through a city in need of hope and in a time of divisiveness when a moderate approach can unite us, whether the question is density and development or police brutality and escalating crime.
- Johnston will convert two pods of the Denver County jail into a drug rehabilitation center and a mental health care facility staffing them with 10 trained medical professionals to provide care. He estimates the cost of the staff will be about $1 million a year, and like all of his plans, he has a funding source in mind.
- “It just requires actually using the policies,” Johnston said, noting 180 days is long enough to offer a robust drug treatment program. “Which I think you could get DAs and judges to do if they had a place to sentence them that was actually healthy.”
- Johnston’s plan threads the needle. He will help those suffering from addiction get the help they need through diversion programs that actually provide drug treatment and don’t leave recovering individuals with a stigmatizing criminal record.
- During our interview with Johnston, every plan had this level of specificity.
- We didn’t agree with him on everything, but we could see the reason and logic behind his approach, the research and care that went into developing the plan, and, critically, a willingness to adjust and be flexible as needs arise and circumstances change.
- His plan to build several tiny home villages – available to those who are chronically homeless and refusing shelter regardless of sobriety, felony conviction, or mental health needs – is a compassionate way to address the encampments that have taken over some public spaces downtown.
- Johnston is going to invest in Denver kids. One part of his plan to curb youth violence is simple: give low-income families in Denver $1,000 for after-school activities. Denver is bursting with opportunities for kids, but only those with the financial means can participate in many of the programs.
- Johnston will rebuild the Department of Public Safety.
- “It’s sort of a doom loop where right now morale is low, and population is low. So now you have to work three shifts, and it makes morale even lower. And now you are being vilified by the public,” Johnston said. “Part of this is leading a really high-profile cheerleader-in-chief-as-mayor effort to make them want to work in Denver again and to say to officers and first responders that: ‘This city needs you. We are calling you to service.’ There are a lot of folks who are unemployed or underemployed in this city who could be called to that if they thought it was worthwhile, but it does take a real concentrated effort to make this a dignified job again and rebuild that trust again.”
- No other candidates talked about community policing and empowering officers to do good work the way Johnston did.
- …at the end of the day, Johnston is right that our department will only deteriorate and tragic incidents worsen if we can’t recruit qualified, talented, diverse officers who want to serve for the right reasons.
- Voters who are unsure if Johnston is the right candidate because of his support for police and his mistake should look at his robust equity policies aimed at rectifying the harm caused by more than a century of Jim Crow policies fueled by systemic racism.
- Equity is one of four key areas Johnston will emphasize in office.
- He has already seen success outside of the mayor’s office, launching the Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth, which provides $40,000 in down payment assistance for Black families to buy homes.
- Finally, Johnston has the integrity needed to clean up City Hall. For too long special interests have held more weight at the building than Denver residents.
- He talks candidly about the fact that developers and homebuilders expect to make around 18% to 22% profit on projects in Colorado, and he will scrutinize those deals.
- Voters will have many options when their ballots arrive this week. We hope they consider supporting Johnston.