As the Denver mayor’s race begins, there will be an endless conversation about the top issues. Economy, jobs, budget cuts, traffic and potholes will receive frequent mention. A few of the smarter candidates will try to put their issues into a theme, such as Federico Peña’s “Imagine a Great City,” which skeptics then referred to as “Freddie and the Dreamers.”
But, Peña was right that a city’s greatness is more than just airports, convention centers and viaducts. A new Gallup survey shows social infrastructure and aesthetics may be more important to citizens’ attachment to their city than basic services and bricks and mortar. The soft issues are most strongly related to citizens’ satisfaction with their community and the community’s ability to mobilize people for civic action.
Gallup measured citizen satisfaction in 26 communities nationwide, along with a sense their community was moving in direction, their willingness to recommend it, and their general pride in their community.
The key drivers of citizens’ attachment to their community were:
The key issues in the Denver’s mayor race will be more related to maintaining Denver’s social networks, its welcoming attitude, its overall aesthetics and educational offerings than the basics, which are assumed to be a given. Value is added when a community gains a reputation for its diversity, accessibility and opportunities.