Nov 10, 2019
Representing District 8, Councilman Chris Herndon serves the Stapleton, Park Hill, Colfax and Montbello neighborhoods. Initially elected in 2011, he was re-elected in 2015 and again in 2019. But before he entered the political realm, Herndon served in the U.S. Army for close to seven years. He was deployed twice to Kosovo and then to Iraq. Herndon says he utilizes the skills he learned in the military to be a better public servant.
“I think that one of the greatest challenges for veterans is not having an understanding that the work you do in the military, how that transitions over to success in the civilian world,” Herndon says. “Someone said to me, ‘take care of your soldiers and they'll take care of you.’ And so whether that's in the military or in the civilian world, it's the exact same thing.”
#IAMDENVER sat down with Herndon as he was preparing to participate in events to honor the city’s veterans. We discussed his transition to civilian life, his work to help veterans in our city, and why he has dedicated his life to public service.
I make sure we have housing for veterans. We recently just did a ribbon cutting for Northeast Denver housing where they're doing 180 affordable units, and some of those particular units were reserved just for veterans - to making sure that those who have served our country, you should never have to fight for a home or a job. And so, we're making sure as a city we're certainly doing that.
I participated in a program before called boots to suits. It's in partnership with CU Denver where veterans are looking for mentors as they're transitioning from the military to the civilian side. So, I remember what that was like. So, I've mentored veterans before to make sure that “Hey, if you've got any questions, I'm a vet. This is something that I've done before.”
And then just working with a different veteran organizations to make sure that they have their support. VFW post one, the oldest VFW in the country, is right here in Denver. A lot of people may not know that. Supporting them as they move forward. They do their annual event in December. So, showing support for those. It's just a few, a few of the ways that we work to support our veterans.
You know, District 8 has the same challenges that the city has. We have to make sure affordability. And I'm proud to say that no matter where your socioeconomic status is, District 8 has a home for you, because in the past four years, we've worked really to build affordable housing units throughout the entire district. Whether it's Park Hill, Stapleton, Montbello, East Colfax, there's a home for you.
For those people who have been experiencing homelessness, we've built shelters in the past four years. But you know what? We also need to put people to work and so it's about working with the business community, bringing businesses to our district, small businesses, large businesses, multiple sizes, different opportunities. Working on that as well.
I have a passion for youth and thanks to my mom - she was a teacher for 30 plus years - and so I do an annual leadership program, taking our high school youth, showing them opportunities that they may not be aware of, connecting them with leaders and Northeast Denver leadership. We have done now for, this will be the 10th year when we do it next year, and the impact that has made on our youth has been absolutely remarkable, very proud of it.
So affordability, when it comes to working with our youth, and also our infrastructure - investments in our city. Advancements in our small area plans, we have the East area plan that we're finishing up. We just finished a Far Northeast plan. And so making sure that district 8 has a home for everyone and we're doing the right thing, and we're doing right by our constituents.