Many Americans feel that politics is a dirty word. We want to simplify the murkiness and provide you with hands-on and active information to ensure your voice is heard, from the bottom up.
With so many people on so many levels it can be hard to see where the average person’s needs, wants and questions fit in. The important thing about local politics is it was designed to be the opposite of federal politics; it was designed to meet the individual needs of the smaller communities. To plug into local politics there are a lot of different options and paths depending on what you want to accomplish. The benefit of becoming familiar with the different faces and levels of Colorado and Denver government is finding out who is in charge of what. America is a massive country with different communities, needs, climates and economies. Colorado is as well, so expecting the federal government to come up with solutions to Denver-specific problem can feel like a long shot. The Denver government, however, is closer, more accessible and highly interested in hearing from local constituents. Below is an introductory guide of how to get involved by explaining the very basics, beginning with the who and ending with the why.
The Major Players and How to Contact Them
Mayor Michael Hancock
Denver’s government is split into a few different arenas. Because Denver is the capitol city of Colorado there is more happening here and more access than anywhere else in the state. At the top of Denver is the mayor, Michael B. Hancock; he serves loosely as the president of the city. Mayor Hancock oversees the smaller facets of Denver as well as attends to his own agenda. Some of Mayor Hancock’s biggest goals include increasing business and profits both from Denver International Airport as well as attracting innovative and tech work to downtown Denver.
Mayor Micheal Hancock’s contact: Mayor’s Office Phone Number: 720-865-9000
Best way to reach him: To request a meeting, request an appearance or email the Mayor, fill out the form(s) on this site or call him with the number above.
What to contact him about: You can email the Mayor about broad concerns that effect all of Denver using the link above. You can also get more information or submit your name to be appointed to one of many boards and commissions that oversee different aspects of Denver life. Look at the full list here.
Denver City Council
In addition to the Mayor, who oversees the city, there is also a city council that divides the city into 11 small municipal areas that have an individual leader and two at-large representatives. City Council is comparable to the local level of congress. The purpose of city council is to oversee the minutia of everyday life of the neighborhoods that make up Denver. City Council creates committees to oversee different issues that affect the whole city like right of way issues, zoning problems, transportation, financial questions, etc. Each City Council member also has his or her own personal agenda just like the Mayor. For example Kendra Black, who is the representative of South East Denver, has her own page of area-specific priorities that anyone can check out here.
How to contact/find your representative: To find which council district you reside in, consult this map. To match your district to your City Council Person consult this list.
Best way to reach them: Office phone numbers, emails and social media accounts are listed on the individual pages of each Councilperson.
What to contact them about: Contact your City Councilperson for issues that directly affect your neighborhood.
In addition to Denver’s own government, because it is the Capitol, there are also higher levels existing here. The Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, resides in Denver and oversees certain projects that affect the city. The Governor is loosely the President of the state; you can check out more about his work and overall priorities here. In addition to coordinating works across the state and different projects as a part of his own agenda the Governor performs at the state level approval and vetoes of state legislation.
How to contact Governor Hickenlooper: You can find contact links to different services and requests you may have on the Governor’s contact page.
Best way to reach him: There are different ways to reach out depending on your needs; check the above link for specific services. But we also suggest calling his front office
Hickenlooper: (303) 866-2471 (front office); (303) 866-2885 (office of constituent services)
What to contact him about: Contact the Governor about issues that affect the state. Statewide concerns might include Colorado’s environment in general, versus neighborhood recycling concerns.
The Colorado Legislature
There is also a Colorado Legislature. Similar to City Council but on the State level, Colorado is divided, usually by population, and people are elected to oversee the needs of the individual territories. The primary purpose of the Colorado Legislature is to create laws and amend the state constitution.
How to contact/find your representative: Here is a great website that allows you to find your representatives based on your address. Note: Following the most recent election these representatives are subject to change over January.
Best way to reach them: Once you have the name of your representative you can find their personal page here. Each representative’s office number is listed next to their name.
What to contact them about: Contact your state Senator or Congressional Representative to give input on upcoming laws on the ballot or to discuss how laws and amendments specific to Colorado are affecting you and your community.
Colorado’s U.S. Senators
All states have two Senators who are intended to give their home a voice when making national laws.
Your representative: The Senators from Colorado are Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner.
Best way to reach them: Both Senator’s websites (links above) offer the best ways to get in touch regarding whatever input you have. But calling your senators are often the most effective way of reaching them. Listed below are their Denver offices and Washinton numbers.
Pro tip: if the mailbox is full at their Denver location, you can call their other offices if your main goal is to raise a senators awareness of an issue. Additional numbers for Gardner can be found here and here for Bennet.
What to contact them about: Contact your Senator about issues affecting Colorado. Something you might contact a Senator about rather than the Governor are the things about Colorado you want protected by U.S. law. If you contacted the Governor about the environment you might contact your Senator about national laws that set environmental standards.
Colorado’s U.S. Congresspersons
All states Congressional Representatives are based on population and are intended to give the people of Colorado a voice when making national laws.
How to contact/find your representative: Check out this website to get all the information about the Colorado district map and Denver’s representatives. Then follow these links to their individual websites Diana DeGette (D), Doug Lamborn (R), Ed Perlmutter(D), Ken Buck (R), Mike Coffman (R), Scott Tipton (R), Jared Polis (D)
Best way to reach them: Representative’s websites give all of their contact information (listed above) as well as details about what they are currently working on. Calling is also effective.
Diana DeGette (D) 1st District: (303)-844-4988, (202)-225-4431
NOTE: most Denver residents are in the 1st District.
Jared Polis (D) 2nd District: (303) 484-9596, (202) 225-2161
Scott Tipton (R) 3rd District: (719) 542-1073, (202)-225-4761,
Ken Buck (R) 4th District: (720) 639-9165, (202) 225-4676
Doug Lamborn (R) 5th District : (719)-520-0055, (202)-225-4422
Mike Coffman (R) 6th District: (720)- 748-7514, (202)- 225-7882
Ed Perlmutter(D) 7th District : (303)-274-7944, (202)-225-2645
What to contact them about: Contact your Representative about issues that effect you, your community and that you care deeply about in the country and the world. Your Representatives differ from Senators because they represent the opinions of Colorado on the national stage but they rarely influence legislation specific to Colorado. If you have strong feelings about issues not specific to Colorado like the foster care system, gun ownership laws and rights and educational funding then contact your representative.
For an interactive map go here
Other Contacts To Know
Denver also has its own District Attorney; beginning in January it will be Beth McCann, who will be the first female elected to that position. As District Attorney McCann will have some agency when determining what crimes she will most avidly pursue and to what extent of the law. To learn more about McCann’s positions on issues, check out her website.
Denver’s Police Department also has representatives for Denver citizens to reach out to. Check out their website; David Quinones oversees the day-to-day operations of the Department and is often the face of the Department at different functions.
Meetings to Attend and Events Not to Miss
Attending small meetings around Denver that are hosted by your Councilperson are a great way to keep up with what local politicians are working on in Denver. Most members of City Council host town hall-style meetings. A town hall meeting is when a local politician or someone in government hosts an open forum on a topic because they want feedback from their constituents (you). Any given week there are events around Denver on topics such as the future of civil rights, the new public bathrooms around town, homelessness in Denver and the sweeps. Town hall meetings also offer an intimate space where the voice of those attending is welcome. If you have strong feelings or just peripheral questions, the entire point is for a dialogue to take place between an average person and the official that represents their interests.
City council meetings take place every Monday night and are open to the public but you must sign up to speak at them; they are not open forums for constituents they are transparent meetings about what City Council is working on as a group.
Here is a link to the City Council meeting schedule.
For neighborhood-specific meetings (i.e. liquor licensing or neighborhood activities) check out the registered neighborhood organizations here.
Get Involved with an Organization
The competing option to direct access to local representatives is to find an organization that is already working towards solutions in any area you feel strongly about. Denver is a major and progressive city and likely there is already a group of people working on whatever problem you feel passionately about. A quick internet search with a “cause” and “Denver” will likely bring up multiple results of groups or non-profits attempting to rally the government, and donating your time or money or encouraging your community to help out can have a huge impact.
For example, think about living in Capitol Hill and having a strong concern about drunk drivers. Calling the White House to get more comprehensive prevention put in place specifically in Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, Colorado will likely never be a priority for the President of the United States. That does not mean you have to give up on seeking help. Based on this article there are two paths. The first is to find out the City Council member who oversees Capitol Hill. According to the district map, the majority of Cap Hill is in District 10, which is represented by Wayne New, who has a personal information page. Now with this information you have a few options; get together your community and reach out to New directly, collect signatures in Cap Hill asking for additional regulations around drunk driving in that area or do an internet search for “drunk driving prevention” and “Denver.” After the ads the first two websites are for an organization called Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). MADD is a national, well-organized group that has been around for years and has offices in Denver. Their information and resources can help elevate your personal efforts and their website offers different ways to get involved and information about their Colorado office.
Check out a complete and comprehensive list of nationally recognized non-profits.
Also see our article about Colorado charities.
In modern times with 24-hour news cycles and the internet, it can feel as though being an individual American is small and meaningless in the grand scheme of politics. This conception is unfortunate because the different levels of government were designed and installed to prevent that exact phenomena. Now more than ever understanding government at the local level and ensuring your voice is heard is important and can be a really rewarding way to experience a city or a neighborhood as a community.
Additional reporting by Brittany Werges.