making local government more ethical

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The Rocky Mountains west of Denver help people navigate the city by serving as a directional reference.

Brief History of Denver in Politics

Denver entered the political arena fairly quickly to its founding in 1858, and incorporation in 1861. The city was named the state capital of Colorado upon its entering the Union in 1876, as state leaders saw Denver, which was the territorial capital of the 15 year lived Colorado Territory, as an economicly booming city that would no doubt come to be one of America's pilars. They're prediction turned out to be correct. The city boomed in the "old west" fashion, and became the economic capitol of the west through much of the 19th century.

Early political fame

In hosting the 1908 Democratic National Convention, Denver gained a spot light from what was at the time a east coast dominated sport; national politics. Industiralists now moving west with inovation and big business were witness to Denver's political value, and more importantly, venue. Conquering the west is considered to be no easy challenge politically, and still an important asset. In the later part of the 20th century, winning the west was seen as crucial to a win abroad, making Denver the "center stage" in the polical arena.

Mile High Government

Denver is a consolidated city-county with a non-partisan elected mayor (though they may belong to a particular political party), a 13-member city council and an auditor. The Denver City Council is elected from 11 districts with two at-large council-members and is responsible for passing and changing all laws, resolutions, and ordinances, usually after a public hearing. They can also call for misconduct investigations of Denver's departmental officials.

Denver has a strong mayor/weak city council government. The mayor can approve or veto any ordinances or resolutions approved by the council, makes sure all contracts with the city are kept and performed, signs all bonds and contracts, is responsible for the city budget, and can appoint people to various city departments, organizations, and commissions. However, the council can override the mayor's veto with a nine out of 13 member vote, and the city budget must be approved and can be changed by a simple majority vote of the council. The auditor checks all expenditures and may refuse to allow specific ones, usually based on financial reasons. [1]

All elected officials have four year terms, with a maximum of two terms. While Denver elections are non-partisan, Democrats have long held a virtual monopoly on Denver politics with all elected officials having Democratic Party affiliation. In federal elections, Denverites also tend to vote for Democratic candidates. The office of Denver's Mayor has been occupied by a Democrat since the municipal general election of 1963. The current Mayor, John Hickenlooper, has boasted some approval ratings in the 90% range in recent polls, which could indicate that the Democratic Party will likely remain in control of the office, and Denver's image as a "progressive city" shall continue.

Notable political action and events

In recent years, Denver has famously taken a stance on helping Denverites who are or become homeless. The city has gained a great reputation from the works of Mayor John Hickenlooper, and Mayor Wellington Webb particularly. Denver's population of homeless residents is considerably lower than many other major cities, but many residents of the city streets have suffered during Denver's winters. Although mild and dry much of the time, Denver's winters can have brief periods of cold temperatures and varying amounts of snow. As a result, the city has set a national precedent on homeless services, with the creations of a ten year plan to end homelessness (a plan now becoming popular in other cities as well), a task force and commission to end homelessness, and an expansion on human and civil services through the Denver area.

In 2005, Denver became the first major city in the U.S. to make the private use of less than an ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. The city voted 53.49%-46.51% in favor of the marijuana legalization measure. It should be noted that this initiative does not usurp state law, which currently treats marijuana possession in much the same way as a speeding ticket, with fines of up to $100 and no jail time [2].

Denver is competing with Minneapolis, New Orleans, and New York[1] to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which would coincidently be the centennial of the city's first hosting of the landmark 1908 convention. It also hosted the G7 (now G8) summit between June 20 and June 22 in 1997.

Notable Denver Mayors

City & County of Denver Board of Ethics

An excerpt from the Code of Ethics

Note: You can find the entire document HERE.

" It is the intent of the city that its officers, officials, and employees adhere to high levels of ethical conduct so that the public will have confidence that persons in positions of public responsibility are acting for the benefit of the public. Officers, officials, and employees should comply with both the letter and spirit of this ethics code and strive to avoid situations, which create impropriety or the appearance of impropriety... "

How to Contact the Commission

Physical Address:

Denver Board of Ethics
201 West Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO 80202

Mailing Address:

Denver Board of Ethics
201 West Colfax Avenue, Dept. 703 (for US mail)
Denver, CO 80202

Requests for advisory opinions; citizen inquiries:

L. Michael Henry, Staff Director
Ph: (720) 865-8412
Fx: (720)865-8419
[email protected]

Additional reference information: