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Ballot Measure 2E: 
Council Approve Mayoral Appointments


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Live Forum Information

A Denver Decides Ballot Issue Forum in anticipation of the general election coming up on Tuesday, November 3rd. Ballot Measure 2E asks voters if the Charter of the City and County of Denver should be amended to give City Council authority to consent to certain mayoral appointments. Denver City Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer, who represents Council District 5 speaks in favor of Ballot Measure 2E. Cole Finegan, former Denver City Attorney and Chief of Staff for Mayor John Hickenlooper, speaks against Ballot Measure 2E.

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Amendment 2E

Shall the Charter of the City and County of Denver be amended to give City Council authority to consent to certain mayoral appointments?

¿Se deberían enmendar los Estatutos de la Ciudad y el Condado de Denver para otorgar autoridad al ayuntamiento para autorizar ciertas designaciones de alcaldes?

Ballot Details

This referred measure, if approved, will give City Council appointment authority of certain Mayoral appointees. While it is not a cure-all for the issues that face Denver, it brings transparency and accountability back to our local government. In addition to the Chiefs of Police and Fire, and the Denver Sheriff, a majority of City Councilmembers would have to approve the Executive Directors of: Aviation, City Attorney, Community Planning & Development, Public Health & Environment, Transportation & Infrastructure, Excise & License, Finance, General Services, Human Services, Parks & Recreation, and the Manager of Safety.

This proposal brings meaningful change to our community in several ways:

1. Is Rooted in Research, Best Practices, and Good Governance. City Councilmembers in the majority of Denver’s strong-mayor “sister” cities have some form of approval power over the Mayor’s appointees. Denver is the only strong-mayor system in the State of Colorado that does not follow this practice. After hundreds of hours of research, including conversations with leaders in other cities, it is clear that this is considered a good governance standard that has been successful in cities across the country and in other layers of Government, including the Federal level.

2. Gives Denver Residents Better Balance to Their Government. This proposal is respectful of Denver’s StrongMayor system. The Mayor is free to choose his or her appointee in whatever manner they want, using a process of their own design, and also retains sole dismissal authority over the appointments. But by establishing this additional layer of oversight, Denver residents have a more powerful voice in their local government through their independently elected City Council representatives.

3. Builds Community Consensus Around Denver’s Public Safety Positions This proposal builds consensus among the community by including all of the heads of Denver’s Safety departments. It offers a middle ground for those who would like to see an elected Sheriff or Police Chief, and those who have concerns about the unintended consequences of electing Denver’s Public Safety heads.

4. Safeguards Against Nepotism and Unqualified Appointees. By requiring City Council approval of these appointees, this process ensures that every candidate demonstrate their ability to effectively communicate with the 13 members of City Council before they are appointed to one of the most powerful positions in the City of Denver.

5. Creates Collaborative Partnerships Between Councilmembers and Agencies. This process creates a situation where Councilmembers have buy-in with the heads of City agencies, which means they also have incentive to create successful working partnerships with those appointees. Establishing those collaborative working relationships from the beginning of the appointment will help ensure our city runs more smoothly, which only benefits the entire community.

Instituting a process that brings more balance, transparency and accountability to our strongmayor form of government makes sense. It is good governance. It is a policy that many other strongmayor cities follow successfully. It is what the people want, and it is time to bring it to Denver

  • The current city council that is asking for the power of confirmation has yet to establish its own credibility. It has acted without thought of consequences, such as unexpectedly rejecting contracts for halfway houses with no subsequent plans in place for hundreds of people counting on a phased reentry to society. This type of impulsive approach to governing undermines council’s credibility. 
  • Finding the right person to apply for a cabinet position can be difficult under normal circumstances. Members of this council have launched public personal attacks on applicants for volunteer boards. Does this behavior lend itself to attracting highly professional applicants for jobs within the city? 
  • Adopting this amendment could create unique timing problems. This amendment would require confirmation of all existing department heads should the current mayor leave office for any reason and a NEW mayor who wishes to retain the current line-up be sworn in. This disruption would apply even if time is too short for an election and the current deputy mayor is elevated to mayor, which happened with former Mayor Hickenlooper and his deputy Bill Vidal.
  • This Charter amendment calls for the confirmation of each individual safety department head (fire, police, and sheriff) as well as the cabinetlevel Director of Public Safety. It will be hard to hold the mayor accountable if the nominee has to please council members who advocate defunding and encourage protests and lawsuits. 
  • While the concept of council confirmation has pros and cons, it would be wise to reject the Charter amendment at this time and refile it for a public vote when city council has established its own stability and credibility.