City Council Candidate Forum

Denver City Council District 5 and At-Large Candidate Forum
Tuesday March 7, 2023

Moderator: Dennis Ryerson
Dennis was raised on Iowa farms and was one of those nerdy kids who early on took an interest in words and "current events." That led to a career in journalism as a reporter, editorial writer, and top editor at papers including The Des Moines Register, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The San Jose Mercury News and the Indianapolis Star.  He was managing editor of The Denver Post some years ago when its news staff was nearly four times as large as is its present newsroom. He's done reporting projects in China and Africa, has had sit-downs with Barack Obama, George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, has served four times as a Pulitzer Prize judge, and has been on Meet the Press, NPR's Fresh Air, All things Considered. and all the morning network news programs.
He has moderated three nationally televised presidential primary debates and helped organize the Indiana Debate Commission, a non-government, non-partisan organization that conducts debates for statewide candidates which are televised statewide.  He moderated two gubernatorial debates and a U.S. Senate debate for that organization.
After retiring from the business he returned to Denver to be close to his two children and their families.  He served on the board of the Ballpark Neighborhood and now is on the boards of Cherry Arts, which conducts the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, the contemporary dance company Wonderbound, and the Sloan's Lake Park Foundation. He also Chairs the Community Advisory Board of Colorado Public Radio. In his spare time he skis, hikes, engages in photography and takes guitar lessons.

District 5 Candidates

Amanda Sawyer, current Councilwoman for District 5, is a licensed Colorado attorney who also has her Master of Business Administration and more than a decade of experience in marketing, sales, entrepreneurship, and business strategy. Amanda has lived in Colorado off and on since 1989. Councilwoman Sawyer says she has been honored to represent the District 5 community as she seeks her second term in office.

Michael Hughes was born in Colorado Springs and attended the University of Denver. He received his master’s degree in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania. His company, Hughes Collaboration, offers mediation services in complex public policy disputes.  He also teaches conflict resolution at the University of Denver, a skill he hopes to bring to City Council. He’s concerned about housing costs and housing supply and wants to preserve our great neighborhoods while finding places where we can build transportation and more housing together.
At-Large Candidates

Will Chan was born and raised in West Denver and would be the first Asian elected to Denver office. He is a graduate of Denver Public Schools and Colgate University. He has worked in public service his entire career and most recently managed millions of dollars working for Denver Economic Development & Opportunity. Will has served on the SCFD Board, DPS Mill and Bond Levy and worked with the White House on mental health and immigrant outreach.

Dominic A. Diaz is a 25-year-old born and raised in Denver, and if elected will be the youngest member ever to serve in Denver’s City Council. Growing up, Dominic lived all over Denver. Now, Dominic and his family live in Denver's Sun Valley neighborhood. In 2014, Dominic began his career in public service with Denver Parks and Recreation and later served as a Certified Colorado Compliance Coordinator for the Office of Children's Affairs.

Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez is currently the Colorado House Assistant Majority Leader. She is a Denver native and graduate of North High School. While serving as State Representative for the Northside and the Westside, she secured over $500 million for affordable housing, strengthened protections for renters and tenants, established a regulatory framework for deadly air toxins, and has taken important steps to tackle the root causes of crime.

Tim Hoffman was raised in Denver and, for the past five years, he has worked as a prosecutor in the Denver District Attorney’s office, serving on both the bias-motivated crime taskforce and the traffic crash investigation team. Tim also worked in the Obama White House and the State Department before attending law school. He survived a traumatic brain injury survivor that resulted from a hit and run as he was biking home, Tim is also passionate about transportation issues in Denver. He lives in Cory Merrill with his wife and three young daughters.

Travis Leiker is currently Senior Director of Development at the University of Colorado. Travis served as President of Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, was the Board President at NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, worked for Conservation Colorado and helped to train a new generation of women leaders to run for office at the White House Project. Travis holds both a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Colorado.

Sarah Parady is a Colorado lawyer who began her career at Colorado Legal Services before co-founding a small public interest law firm focused on representing workers. She was a primary drafter of the Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, which made Colorado a national leader in pay transparency. Sarah is an experienced advocate for economic justice and workers’ rights. Sarah’s advocacy has led to a change in nationwide policy by the Centers for Disease Control leading to coverage for mammograms for low-income trans women, among many other outcomes.

Penfield Tate III previously represented District 8 in the Colorado House from 1996 to 2000, and District 33 in the State Senate from 2000 to 2003, before running for mayor in 2003 and 2019. Tate is an attorney with experience in, among other things, municipal finance and legislative matters. In 2019, Tate campaigned on restraining poorly planned growth and protecting local businesses and affordable housing to address homelessness. Tate has served on a range of community boards across the city, including Ability Connection Colorado, among others.

Jeff Walker moved to Denver from Cincinnati in 1999 to attend law school at the University of Denver. He has strong ideas on how he would like this city to operate. Jeff believes the At-Large seat belongs to the people. Jeff has spent thousands of hours since 2004 on various boards (including the RTD Board and Planning Board) and committees while balancing a family and full-time job. He thinks he has enough experience in developing land use, transportation and public safety policy to make a meaningful contribution.

Marty Zimmerman is a Denver native with more than 20 years of experience in non-profit development, facilitations and trainings, internal and external communications, project management, human resources, and general business management. Marty has a Master of Social Work and Nonprofit Management from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from Syracuse University. Marty is an alum of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Denver program, served three years as a mayoral appointee on the Denver Mayor’s Youth Commission.

Positions of At-Large Candidates Taken from Prior Regis Forum:
Do you support and will you enforce the urban camping ban in Denver?
Candidates answering Yes:
Hoffman, Leiker, Walker and Zimmerman
Candidates answering No:
Chan, Diaz, Gonzales-Gutierrez, Parady, and Tate.

If State law allows, would you support any form of rent control measures in Denver?
Candidates answering Yes:
Chan, Gonzales-Gutierrez, Leiker, Parady, Tate and Zimmerman
Candidates answering No:
Diaz, Hoffman and Walker

Do you support removing the golf course easement on the Park Hill Golf Course?
Candidates answering Yes:
Chan, Hoffman, Walker and Zimmerman
Note: Leiker and Gonzales-Gutierrez did not answer this question.

Candidates answering No:
Diaz, Parady and Tate
Note: Leiker and Gonzales-Gutierrez did not answer this question.