Why I’m running for Denver City Council – District 8.
I grew up in Park Hill and graduated from George Washington High School and later graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Spelman College (Atlanta, GA) and a law degree from the University of Colorado-School of Law (Boulder, CO).
I am an Attorney and owner of RLIMMIGRATION and the Law Office of Rita R. Lewis.
My commitment to the community consists of my tenure as the former President of the Denver Branch of the NAACP, former Board Member of the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center and former Commissioner of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and most recently I served as the Executive Director of Denver Metro Fair Housing Center.
Additionally, I am a 3rd generation member of New Hope Baptist Church and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a proud Denver Public Schools (DPS) graduate, parent of a DPS graduate and the daughter of two public school educators.
Historically, Park Hill was the nucleus of District 8 long before the creation of Central Park, formerly known as Stapleton. Dr. Martin Luther King visited Denver on several occasions from the mid-1950s to mid-1960s during the Civil Rights Movement. He spoke about equality in an era of segregation and red-lining that prevented black families from living in Park Hill until the early 1960s. Afterwards, Park Hill became a mecca for black families and black businesses. Gentrification has changed Park Hill, but it is still one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Denver.
After living in Green Valley Ranch for 14 years, I moved my family back to Park Hill to be near my Mom and her caregiver and I have now lived in my beloved Park Hill for over 11 years.
Denver City Council serves an important function in our Denver City government. However, it appears that Denver voters have lost the ability to vote on issues that directly impact their communities.
The voters in Denver did not have the right to vote on the redistricting maps–only Denver City Council–was allowed to make this vital decision. Voters could regain their ability to vote on redistricting after 10 years if we change the City Charter.
More recently, many Denver residents complained about Denver City Council’s vote to charge Denver residents a monthly fee for trash removal–this should have been voted on by Denver residents not a unilateral decision by the City and City Council.
We have all witnessed several instances in which Denver City Council is tasked with voting on important issues without their constituents having the final say.
This is not City Council’s fault; however, I strongly believe that each and every City Council member should represent the views of their constituents “prior” to voting on vital issues and the current Denver City Charter prevents the voters, the very constituents who voted for the City Council members from making informed decisions that adversely or benefit our communities.
If I’m elected to the District 8 City Council seat, I will vote the conscience of District 8 residents and make it my personal goal to change the Denver City Charter so residents, rather than City Council, will have the right to vote on the very issues that directly impact them.
District 8 has become a very diverse palette covering Park Hill, Central Park, as well as portions of Montbello and Colfax. All of these neighborhoods have very different interests and very different issues of concern, and I would be attentive and responsive to these differing interests.
If I’m elected to represent District 8 on Denver’s City Council, I will fight for not only affordable housing but advocating for “rent control” as well as fighting against discrimination under Colorado’s fair housing laws. I would also work on creating more accessible living spaces for the homeless population that would include vital “wrap-around” mental health, medical and food voucher services that are located in other areas of the City and not just NE Park Hill.
I will focus on local ordinances that make sense to our residents rather than creating additional burdens on our residents in our current climate of inflation.
I will advocate for a transportation infrastructure that services all residents in Denver by recommending that residents have access to more stops in their respective neighborhoods so they can travel throughout Denver and surrounding cities.
Finally, I will work to help Denver residents with their increased property taxes, reduce the City’s sales tax, advocate for caregivers to receive a “living wage” as well as health insurance through Denver Health, fixing the ever-present potholes, gasoline and grocery incentives as well as making Denver an affordable city once again.
These may seem like lofty goals, but we must get back to the “homey” feeling of living in Denver rather than the “overpriced” standard of living similar to Los Angeles.
Thank you and it would be an honor to represent District 8 on Denver’s City Council as a Park Hill native.