As the Denver Post’s Jon Murray records the seven new councilpersons are the largest changeover since 2003 when a new mayor, John Hickenlooper, joined many members of this year’s retiring council.
These twelve years have been busy with a major recession and budget cuts and a host of contentious issues (homeless ban, police and sheriff settlements), but Denver mayors and council have mostly worked together on big issues and received voter support for major initiatives, such as a new justice center, the half-billion dollar bond package in 2007 and the recent TABOR override.
City government and the business community have had a close working relationship for several decades. It has served Denver well. Denver has continued to grow in terms of jobs and sales tax revenue because, in spite of its left orientation on social issues, it tends to be moderate on tax, regulations and unionization.
But the new members have varied backgrounds, and political analyst Floyd Ciruli says Denver's council has tended to strike a moderate chord as a whole.
He sees the councils of the past three terms as typically defined by cooperation, between the members and with mayors — John Hickenlooper and, now, Michael Hancock. The latter is a former councilman who served with several of the outgoing members.
"There were times when the Denver City Council and the mayors would argue a great deal," Ciruli said, with mayors holding the upper hand in Denver's system. "And that really has not characterized, in my opinion, these 12 years."