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Updated for June 6 Run-Off Election

Denver’s Municipal Run-Off Election is quickly approaching, and as champions of local artists, creatives, and businesses committed to supporting a vibrant, engaged, and inclusive art district, we’ve compiled a variety of resources to keep our community informed.

Here is a quick rundown of all things election:

Important Dates

  • May 15: Mail-in Ballots will be sent out this week and 24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off boxes will open.
  • May 30: Last day to send your ballot via mail or to register to vote. Unsure if you’re registered to vote: check here!
  • June 6: Run-Off Election Day – This is your last day to vote, and polls close at 7 PM!

Need to know where your nearest polling station or 24-Hour ballot drop-off is: click here

On The Ballot

*Disclaimer: RiNo Art District does not endorse candidates for political office.*



Learn more on the City of Denver website HERE. (This 2023 Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire from the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts includes responses from the original field of candidates regarding platforms on art, culture and creative industries.)

Councilmember District 9

As a part of the Denver District 9 community, RiNo Art District invited each candidate for our district to respond to several questions: 

District 9 Run-Off Candidate Responses

Priority 1: Foster a Healthy, Welcoming and Inclusive Art District

Question: How do you think RiNo Art District could improve and work to dismantle long standing systems that promote inequity within our community?

Darrell Watson
First, the fact that this question is in our survey is a demonstration that RiNo is engaged in the work. Your Social Impact Grant program is one proactive step that you are taking. Your recent awardees in GES are community led organizations fighting against food scarcity and gentrification/displacement. Your process using the lens of equity to identify the awardees is once again a demonstration of your commitment to this work. One challenge that I make to RiNo Art District is to find ways to celebrate black art, spaces and businesses along the Welton Street Corridor. There is a growing sense of inequity between the Welton Street black owned businesses and the Art District that is within Five Points. Seeking collaborations in Historic Five Points similar to what is being done in GES will dismantle the growing economic and artistic divide. As your council member, I will work constructively with you to bridge that gap.
Candi CdeBaca
I have worked extensively with the RiNo BID on this exact effort. I believe that tax revenues collected via the BID can be reparatory in the sense that they are returned to artists and businesses have experienced the negative consequences of development. The goal of reparations is to compensate for harm and restore balance and I believe that could also be achieved via programming, weighted voting for members of the BID who represent the historic populations, taking the lead of community organizations on political issues and of course creating economic and ownership opportunities of all types in every business and housing initiative. Affordability is the next tier of support for businesses and housing.

Priority 2: Cultivating Creative Programming for All

Question: What are some of your favorite creative venues and/or activities in RiNo?

Darrell Watson
My husband and I love biking, running, and walking through the Art District and taking in the art, the food and the people. I am a parks person; the Art Park and Promenade were welcomed additions. We visit them frequently. I journal and find solace in those spaces.
Candi CdeBaca
River Bar, The Source Food Hall, Taxi's amenities and office spaces and Prodigy coffee.

Priority 3: Increase Affordable Creative and Small Business Space

Question: Affordability is a critical issue for artists and creative businesses – from housing to venues and workspaces. How would you address the shortage of space and rising cost of living for the creative workforce in Denver while also recognizing the impact of displacement on our communities?

Darrell Watson
The housing crisis has the potential of permanently displacing the people who are the heart and soul of Denver. It is moral and political imperative that the next council member representing District 9 expedites the development of more attainable and workforce housing. I will confront housing in three ways:
1. Implement the affordable housing mandate and reduce the permit time from 18 months to 3 months so that it is more affordable to build that housing.
2. Implement the prioritization policy for affordable housing. As the founding chair of the housing board, in collaboration with community partners and the city; we are finalizing a policy that prioritizes providing access to new affordable housing in District 9 to individuals who were previously displaced from five points or GES.
3. Increasing land trust and deed restrictions like the Pure Development in GES.
As for venues and workspaces, I will push to expedite and incentivize using empty and open store fronts throughout the RiNo art district as artists and production spaces. This would be a scaling of the 6 month no rent process currently occurring along the 16th Street Mall. The scaling would include longer leases at deeply subsidized prices so that if artists or art group wants to extend their stay beyond 6 months they can.
Candi CdeBaca
Unfortunately, most of the rezoning for the RiNo area happened pre-affordability requirements and most of the buildings were not required to have affordable commercial and residential units, nor were solid community benefit agreements in place. I have fought tirelessly to make Denargo Market as the primary development in my tenure carry the burden of affordability and access that it could manage as the largest development in the area and will continue make sure that any new development works with the community to guarantee affordability at the deepest levels possible and highest quantities possible. I think the BID's role in achieving this is prioritizing stability over profit for working artists, local artists, and longstanding residents. Good business IS business that stabilizes a community and strengthens the fabric of community and ONLY good business should be promoted in the district.

Priority 4: Nurture RiNo’s Public Realm with Art, Infrastructure, Mobility and Green Initiatives

Question: While we’ve experienced rapid development over the last several decades, for most of the 20th century, the neighborhoods that encompass District 9 lacked critical infrastructure investment. That legacy of under-investment manifests in ongoing social, economic and environmental inequalities. If elected, what would be your priorities for infrastructure investment in this District?

Darrell Watson
The need to improve infrastructure investment is not unique to RiNo art district and surrounding neighborhoods. My infrastructure priorities will include:
Fully funding the Neighborhood Circulator operated through DOTI. I am a strong advocate of the Montbello Connector. I believe as your mobility plan describes, the utility of a circulator connecting from GES, NWA, 38th & Blake, Mission ballroom, to 30th & Downing and Welton Street back to Larimer that compliments RTD 44 & 48 is essential. I see this modeled after the successful Boulder Hop.
Increasing bike connectivity to from GES through NWA through the Art District to downtown. Leverage both VAMOS comfortable street approach and protected bike infrastructure.
Heat Index - Implementing the soon to be completed City Forestry equity strategic plan by exponentially increasing tree canopy not only in RINO but GES. Including in CBA with new development the responsibility for planting trees and expanding green space.
Energize Denver - in anticipation of the financial impacts to residents as the city converts from gas for heating to electric, I will work with developers in and around the art district to increase their energy production from green energy like solar and to use any of that energy savings to subsidize the energy bills for residents surrounding this development (creating a two-way energy program with Xcel).
Shared Streets - I will collaborate with RINO to encourage the increase in shared streets with permanent green infrastructure (trees and native grasses instead of asphalt).
CASR - Increase EV charging stations along the corridor and at NWA to provide access to renters, condo and apartment dwellers that have or want electric vehicle but have problems charging.
Candi CdeBaca
Every year and every rezoning in the district I propose critical life safety budget and project amendments. I strongly believe that the rate of development and backlog of critical infrastructure projects is creating an impending disaster and I have and continue to challenge DOTI and CPD to recognize this and invest appropriately. The plan was to force development to absorb the costs of infrastructure, yet we have not witnessed that plan manifest. So, my priority with a new administration is to have a review of life-safety hazards in the highest density areas of town and prioritization by current plus future projected growth. Given this is not an area of power City Council has power over, my role will be primarily as super advocate, thought partner, community organizer and eventually at the budget phase I can introduce amendments to address the issues that rise to the surface via constituents.

Priority 5: Strengthen Relationships and Communication with RiNo’s Stakeholders

Question: RiNo’s purpose is to champion local artists, creatives, and businesses in support of a vibrant, engaged, and inclusive art district. If you are elected, how do you envision working with our organization, and what are the most important parts of your agenda that will impact artists, cultural nonprofits and the creative industries here in District 9?

Darrell Watson
My husband and I love the arts. We frequent art galleries on bike throughout the District and on a weekly basis enjoy the outdoor art and parks throughout the District. This ecosystem did not occur by osmosis. I will be a champion for local artists working collaboratively with RiNo to identify consistent funding for artists through nonprofits and organizations like CBCA, & DCPA. I will work to continue increase the collaboration not competition for funding and access to capital between DDP and RiNo. Board - I am formally asking to have a seat at your advisory board. This would provide you direct access to my office and me direct access to listen and learn from the communities you serve. Policies - I think primary is my clear focus on attainable housing and providing access to capital for small businesses. Less of a policy but on a more human level, I love RiNo art district. I love your mission and intentionality in being inclusive. I think my heart and commitment to art, artists and community roots my collaborative leadership style and will cement a strong constructive working relationship.
Candi CdeBaca
My office consistently has representation at BID/GID meetings, and we work on extra subgroups for mini-granting, circulator, naming efforts, etc. We have helped the organization reach out for membership, event attendance, engagement efforts etc. and plan to continue to do so. We are unafraid to have hard conversations and always come to the table ready to work with solutions and devoted staff time.