2023 Denver mayoral race: Candidate Terrance Roberts shares his platform

Posted at 3:01 PM, Feb 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-23 16:21:33-04

Civil rights activist and Denver native Terrance Roberts is in the running for mayor. In 2013, Roberts made national headlines after he shot someone at an anti-gang rally. A former gang member himself, Roberts went to trial on attempted murder charges. A jury found him innocent. Since then, the book "The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun, and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood" put a spotlight on the case, followed by a documentary.

According to city data, Roberts qualified for Denver Fair Elections Fund. At the start of February, he received $83,108.24 in campaign funding. More than three-quarters of that is from the Fair Elections Fund.

March 23 update |Response to the shooting of two deans at East High School in Denver:

Although there was another shooting at East high school, I have literally been the only mayoral or municipal candidate to even mention we have a youth violence problem in Denver.......

I still don't think frisking every student with police officers standing at the door and long lines with students waiting to get in the door is the answer. Nor is ticketing youth that involves court cases for fighting and delinquency acts.......

However as mayor if DPS requested SRO's because parents and students want that, I would definitely support it - I'm running on adding more Democracy to our city, not running a heavy handed administration that reflects only my personal ideas.......

Attacking poverty with our public safety budget, creating jobs, after school programs, Xcel energy support, quality child care, food justice democracy, and having more city support for school resources and counseling for youth and families is the real answer to prevent violence, not simply adding more police, but as I stated I would support adding SRO's if requested.......

The Time is Now! Let's focus on letting the youth say what they want and feel, I trust their minds and ideas around the issue of solutions to gun violence, it's mainly their demographic involvement and victimized....... #terrancerobertsformayor #saveourcitydenver #saveourcitydenver

Denver7's Chief Investigative Reporter asked Roberts about his plans if elected as Denver's next mayor. Watch their conversation or read a transcript below.

2023 Denver mayor race: Candidate Terrance Roberts shares his platform

Tony Kovaleski: Introduce yourself. Tell us your story.

Terrance Roberts: My name is Terrence Roberts. I am running to be the 46th mayor of Denver. I'm also 46 years old. Born and raised in Northeast Park Hill. My grandmother owned a small business, a soul food restaurant and a fish market. I was raised in that fish market; my entire family was raised in that fish market. And I want to be the mayor of Denver because I know we could do better with a $1.5 billion general fund, and more money coming from the federal government. We need more public housing, and we need to do more for our youth and for our domestic violence issues.

Tony Kovaleski: Insiders tell us the four most important issues in the race are crime, homelessness, housing and transportation. Rank them from most important to least important and explain why.

Terrance Roberts: I am going to say housing is the most important and this is why: because the other issues fall under our housing, especially our crime issue. In Denver, Colorado, we need more public housing. Affordable housing is owned by developers. We also need a public banking system to pay for our public housing. If somebody cannot afford their rent — which we also need rent controls — if they can't afford their rent, that's the No. 1 precursor to child abuse, to domestic violence. And guess what the number one precursor of kids joining gangs are, which is a lot of our violence issues here in Denver? Domestic violence in the home. Not the father not being there, but domestic violence. So, I think housing is our No. 1 issue. And I think all of those issues fall under housing. And I think transportation — I'm definitely for our environmental issues — but I would definitely put housing and crime over our transportation issues.

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Tony Kovaleski: Based upon your No. 1 priority, housing, what is your pledge to voters on how you will address it and how it may be different than your opponents?

Terrance Roberts: So right now, I am literally the only candidate — maybe there are more starting to, going off of my platform — saying we need more public and social housing. Every other municipal candidate I've heard so far is talking about affordable housing. Affordable housing is owned by builders or developers. I promise you that there will still be billionaires even after my term, and there's still going to be affordable housing. I'm not against affordable housing. I'm just saying we need more public housing and a way to pay for it is we need to bring a public banking system into the City of Denver. Los Angeles has instituted a public banking system. So has Philadelphia. And their issues are way more drastic than what we're dealing with in Denver: 8,000 homeless versus 30,000 homeless in downtown LA. We can do better than that.

Tony Kovaleski: Like many cities, there are a lot of financial needs in Denver. If elected, what would you prioritize? And where would you trim?

Terrance Roberts: I mean, I really feel like we need to keep an emphasis on our small businesses. Even a lot of those businesses that closed on the 16th Street Mall — these weren't huge box businesses. A lot of them were smaller businesses who can no longer afford to rent or they couldn't deal with what they perceived was an influx of crime coming to the 16th Street Mall. We need to make the Five Points a historic arts district. Our Five Points is decimated right now. 16th Street Mall is not getting the activity. Denver should be a 24-hour city. We should be making investments in our small businesses. And we should be making investments into our housing and we need to institute things like a public banking system. Make Denver a 24-hour city. That's more sales tax revenue, and that's more of a tourist destination for this city. Bring trade shows to Denver. We need to bring the film industry and the music industry to Denver. There's a lot of things we can do to generate income in Denver and to address our housing and our shortage of workers situation.

Tony Kovaleski: As we know, Denver is a wonderfully diverse city. Will you make a commitment to ensure your administration reflects the city's diversity? And if yes, how?

Terrance Roberts: I mean, definitely. I'm a person of color myself. And I've organized around justice issues, diversity issues for women, the LGBTQIA community, because of violence. We need to make sure that the city invests in things like the Cinco de Mayo celebration. The city needs to make more of an investment in Juneteenth. Juneteenth is a huge celebration, but it's more privatized than it is publicized for the entire city. We need to make sure that all of our cultural events are sustained. We need to make sure we have trade shows that bring different diversities of people, different communities of people into our city. Not just within Denver – we need diversity to also come into Denver. But people who live in Denver need to be able to afford houses, live by each other and be neighborly to one another.

Tony Kovaleski: City council has the potential for a significant change after this election. How are you planning to work with a new council? And what will that relationship look like?

Terrance Roberts: I think we need to — this is another one of my platform items — adding more democracy to the City of Denver. I am saying, personally, I'm running for mayor because the mayor's position in Denver has too much power. We need to change the city charter to where we only have two-term mayors, starting with my administration. A two-term mayor versus a three-term mayor is totally different politics. We need to, at the very least, let city council help pick out the city attorney, the chief of police, the fire chief and the sheriff or those need to be elected positions. But working closer with city council, since they represent their district is definitely what I'm going to do. I have to submit my budget to city council, so we have to have a good working relationship to get the things done that I'm saying I want to get done.

Tony Kovaleski: Seventeen candidates on the ballot. If you could ask one other candidate one question, who is it? And what would it be?

Terrance Roberts: I think I'll probably ask Mike Johnston, because he's my old office mate — we shared an office in the Holly Square — how him becoming the mayor of Denver is going to be different from when he was a state senator in our office when people were complaining that he was not there. And I hate to go negative with this. But there's a chance that Mr. Johnson could be my mayor for the next 12 years and that's a serious question, because he's a serious candidate.

Tony Kovaleski: A fun question now. What's the last book you read and why?

Terrance Roberts: The last book I read this is gonna sound so selfish. But I read "The Holly." The last book I personally read was "The Holly" because I had to do a reread of it. I'm the protagonist in the book, but I'm gonna be honest, that is the last book I read. And I read it because I'm the protagonist. It's the history of Denver. So I learned a lot besides myself being in there. And I had to know what other people were saying about our city because I wasn't there for every interview. Over 100 people were interviewed for this. So I learned a lot. But that is the last book I read, was "The Holly."

Tony Kovaleski: And what do you do for fun?

Terrance Roberts: I take walks around Cheesman Park. I play basketball. Right now running my campaign is actually fun for me. I think if someone's running a campaign, and they're stressed out about it, they probably shouldn't be the next mayor of Denver. But right now, this is consuming a lot of my time. And I think this is fun. This is fun right here. Organizing people's fun for me. Time for a closing statement.

Tony Kovaleski: Talk to the voters of Denver. What do you want them to know in two minutes or less?

Terrance Roberts: We need to make sure that Denver is more of a world class city. Denver is a world class city. But we can do way better with a $1.5 billion dollar budget. Denver is the exact opposite of being a defunct city. There are over 19,400 cities in America. Some of them are federally run, some of them are bankrupt. Denver is not a bankrupt city. We have a great city. We have a great downtown area. We have cultural communities. All of these things are in danger. If we don't get a mayor in office who is going to be truly concerned and do the things that we need done, like lowering their own terms, like giving more power to city council, we're going to be talking about the same housing issues. Instead of 8,000 people on our streets, we're going to have 18,000 people on our streets in the next 10 to 12 years. Instead of 88 homicides last year, we may be dealing with 108, 208 just in our metro area. So we can do way better in the City of Denver just with the general fund we have. We need to put a mayor in office who is going to present a housing budget that is more than 2% of our public safety. Housing is our biggest issue in Denver. And we need more than a mayor who's going to present a 2% housing budget. We can do better in Denver with the right leadership in the city. That's what the mayor is supposed to be here for, not politicking, but providing leadership to their constituency. I'm here to do that.