Key Takeaways: CityLive’s City Council 101

February 18, 2021

Denver City Council is Denver’s legislative body, and this elected group of officials makes important decisions that impact all of us as residents. To help our community members better understand how decisions are made by City Council and how you can share your voice to make a real difference, the Downtown Denver Partnership’s CityLive program hosted City Council 101.

Below are key takeaways and resources directly from District 10 Councilman Chris Hinds and Zach Rothmier, Emily Lapel, and John Mahoney of the City Council legislative policy team to help you get more engaged in the legislative process. See the full presentation from the webinar here.

Councilman Chris Hinds kicked off the program by sharing that in the recent November 2020 Presidential election, 81% of Colorado voters submitted a ballot, setting a record as the highest percentage of voters to vote in any state in history. Hinds pointed out, “People are now engaged in our political process that have never been engaged in [civics] before.”

On this positive note, a strong emphasis of the webinar was that we – and our Council Members – all want a democracy that represents the people. An ongoing priority for Denver’s City Council is to ensure that there is not a disparity in districts where people are able to be more politically engaged, and to provide an open place for public comment and conversation. 

From here, Zachary Rothmier, Senior Legislative Analyst, described how processes of City Council work from the foundation up. Beginning with how the Denver City Charter outlines the powers of the City as a home-rule municipality, Rothmier then gave an overview of how Denver operates as a city with a strong Mayor form of government, meaning much of the city’s processes are run by administrative bodies. 

The core responsibilities of Denver’s City Council include managing:

  • Ordinances
  • Zoning
  • Appropriations
  • Contracts
  • Temporary permits
  • Referred measures

Wondering how you can join the conversation? 

Last year a law was passed to allow public comment before each City Council meeting. Individuals and groups are welcome to attend weekly City Council meetings and participate in the general public comment process on Mondays from 5 – 5:30 p.m.. Individuals are encouraged to self-identify his/her District, and follow-up with your Council Member on the topic addressed by email. Those interested in speaking can sign up beginning at 12 p.m. the Friday before each Monday evening City Council meeting. Learn more about public comment and sign up here.

Following this piece, Emily Lapel, Legislative Analyst; and John Mahoney, Legislative Analyst  further explained each of Council’s committees in more depth, taking special time to dive into the first two: 

City Council is continuing to develop processes that will enable people to participate virtually and increase public engagement and currently, all Denver City Council meetings are accessible via Zoom. To see the Denver City Council meeting calendar and agendas for future meetings, please click here.

Are you interested in getting more involved in your city as a resident? The Partnership invites you to join CityLive, a free program for residents interested in urbanism, economic development, and continuing to build a vibrant city where people and businesses of all backgrounds can grow and thrive. Learn more about CityLive and sign up here.