MSU Denver, 9News to host Denver mayoral debate
Historically large field of candidates will face off on the Auraria Campus on Feb. 16. Here’s how to watch.
Candidates in Denver’s crowded race for mayor will face off Feb. 16 on the Auraria Campus, where Metropolitan State University of Denver and 9News will host the election’s first televised debate.
Moderated by 9News journalists Kyle Clark, Anusha Roy and Marshall Zelinger, the event will feature candidates vying to replace outgoing three-term Mayor Michael Hancock, who is term-limited.
Debate sponsors also include the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization, known as CLLARO; and the Denver Fair Elections Fund, the city’s new public campaign-financing system.
This year’s April 4 municipal election will be the first under the system, which was approved by voters in 2018 and has been a key driver in motivating a “historically large” number of candidates to jump into the race, said Robert Preuhs, Ph.D., chair of MSU Denver’s Political Science Department.
Candidates can receive public funding for their campaigns as long as they agree to some fundraising restrictions.
“The Fair Elections Fund essentially provides a nine-to-one match to donations from Denver donors who give under $50, which means that a lot of candidates who otherwise would have had to weigh what a fundraising effort would look like no longer have to do that,” Preuhs said. “Also, the barrier to get on the ballot is relatively low — just 300 petition signatures. So there’s no real reason not to put your name in the hopper if you feel you have a chance.”
The Race For Mayor: Live Debate
Where: Metropolitan State University of Denver on the Auraria Campus
When: Feb. 16, 7-9 p.m.
How to watch
Official Campus Watch Party:
Thirteen candidates who qualified for the ballot are receiving matching funds from the city and are are required to participate in two debates sanctioned by the Fair Elections Fund. They include Kelly Brough, Lisa Calderon, Chris Hansen, Leslie Herod, Mike Johnston, Aurelio Martinez, Debbie Ortega, Terrance Roberts, Trinidad Rodriguez, Kwame Spearman, Ean Tafoya, James Walsh and Thomas Wolf. All have confirmed they will participate in the Feb. 16 debate.
Four additional candidates qualified for the ballot but are not receiving matching funds: Renate Behrens, Al Gardner, Andy Rougeot and Robert Treta.
Public safety, homelessness and the future of downtown Denver are among the big issues voters are weighing as they prepare to select the next leader of Colorado’s largest city. Ballots for the nonpartisan election will be mailed to registered Denver voters beginning March 13.
If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates will advance to a June 6 runoff election.
All tickets to attend the event in-person have been distributed, but the debate will be televised from 7-9 p.m. on My20 KTVD and will be streamed on 9News+, the broadcaster’s streaming app on Roku and Fire TV.
The Auraria Higher Education Center is also hosting a free campus watch party from 6:30- 9 p.m. that night at the Tivoli Student Union, Room 329.