Kwame is committed to building the city we deserve—and can afford. His plan for revitalizing Denver focuses on building a thriving local economy that supports, hires, and develops locally, providing world-class education and workforce development opportunities, on building Denver-first infrastructure and public transportation, and on addressing the needs of our unhoused neighbors.
Kwame’s Neighborhood Plan
MAYORAL CANDIDATE KWAME SPEARMAN ANNOUNCES NEXT PHASE OF HIS NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN - FOCUSED ON SAFETY, JOBS, AND HOUSING FOR STRONG NEIGHBORHOODS
“Throughout my campaign, I’ve been inspired to hear how my neighborhood vision for Denver has appealed to communities across the city. As I’ve listened and learned, I’ve brought together a clear approach for how we integrate supporting all the collective needs of each neighborhood - housing, safety, economic prosperity and more. My comprehensive plan connects all these pieces, ensuring the strong neighborhoods we want and need for the future of our city.”
Since jumping in the race in January, Kwame Spearman has been focused on laying the groundwork to become Denver’s “Neighborhood Mayor.” Throughout all the issues in the race, Kwame has been focused on building a new city government that is anchored on listening and learning from our neighborhoods. A part of these proposals will be the creation of a new Office of Neighborhood Affairs that will coordinate these efforts and reorganize city government to support these efforts.
The four-step neighborhood plan is a recognition of the interconnected nature of the big problems facing Denver and is a framework through which Spearman’s management structure will be based and the goals for the city will be established and met.
Phase 1 - Neighborhood Safety Initiative:
The greatest discussion in this campaign has been centered on safety in Denver - the two biggest issues being increases in both homelessness and significant crime. Under a Spearman administration, we will work diligently to separate those who are willing to seek shelter, jobs, health care, mental health and addiction support, and services from those who choose not to. For those that choose not to, arrests will be made for violation of city ordinance and law. No camping, no drug deals, no theft. No activity of any kind that allows some individuals to significantly disrupt businesses and the lives of our residents will be tolerated. For those who do not want to receive services, they will not be welcome in our city. A few leading Mayoral candidates want to swap tents in the streets for long-term tent encampments in neighborhoods with no guarantees for transition. This will not happen in a Spearman administration. Denver ranks top statewide in auto-theft, crime, and amongst fentanyl use - addressing these issues will be top priorities in our administration.
As Denver evolves to cater to the specific needs of our neighborhoods, our police staffing and policies should follow suit. Denver police officers will return to community policing, allowing them to be a part of the community where they patrol. They will be supported by mental health workers who can support the work of getting our neighbors who need help, to help. Like all members of the municipal workforce, our officers and outreach workers will see themselves as neighborhood advocates. Study after study shows that, if a neighborhood and its police officers develop connections, both crime and negativity towards the police decrease. These officers will be embedded by neighborhood and accountable to the neighborhood driven goals and strategies they will co-design with community members. The new Office of Neighborhood Affairs will be a point for coordinating and ensuring data-driven efforts in every neighborhood to address the crime issue.
We will enact home rule power (Denver’s ability to create ordinances where state law is open) to allow our public safety teams to enforce policies and regulations that ensure the safety of every person in the community. All options within legal parameters are on the table in a Spearman administration - our police officers and crisis responders should be trained in effective de-escalation methods but we must have the tools to remove violent or troubled individuals from dangerous situations.
The promise to our neighborhoods:
To hire, replace, and augment 500+ police and STAR support workers either part-time or full-time over the next four years
To expand STAR citywide
To accelerate 911 response times
Phase 2 - Compassion & Consequences Agenda
We are committed to ensuring those who need help receive it. This means coordinated reporting systems amongst all service providers that help us understand the need and demand for services citywide – mental health, addiction, housing, workforce, etc. Neighborhood by neighborhood, we will develop compassionate plans to get every unhoused person in Denver.
In the first path, for those who want services, we will provide an individualized 1:1 approach to meet the unique needs of everyone, including investing in shared data infrastructure to provide information across providers. As we better understand the specific needs of the population in our community that wants services, we will more effectively deploy resources to meet these needs. The primary goals in our investments will transform towards transitioning from shelters and towards services into workforce, housing, and recovery. We will establish a centralized facility that allows for our homeless to live in dignity while we provide dignity while bringing services and support to them.
In the second path, Denver will declare that we will no longer accept tents and unhoused who refuse services or support. As a last resort, our police will be empowered to arrest individuals who refuse the array of options afforded by the city. In the new Office of Neighborhood Affairs, various cabinet and department heads will coordinate their efforts to ensure a block-by-block approach to this issue.
“As a business owner, I know that tents outside our workplaces or our homes are exactly the opposite of what we need in Denver. Tents outside Tattered Cover mean that people don’t feel safe to shop; while tents in our neighborhoods mean crime and safety issues for our kids and families. Being a CEO has taught me how close many of our fellow city citizens are on the verge of homelessness. As your neighborhood Mayor, I will work to break through after a decade of struggle on this issue from both government and nonprofits alike. We need a Mayor that ensures consequences for those that break the law, compassion for those who need help, and coordination across groups for real change.”
The promise to our neighborhoods:
Denver will see a 90% reduction in the tent-living population of Denver within four years
Renegotiate all city contracts and investments with for profit and non profit service providers within the first year to ensure alignment with the city’s program focused on recovery, workforce, and housing goals
Denver will partner to develop two regional treatment shelters that can house 1,000 individuals at a time that offer a path back to society
Phase 3 - Homegrown Workforce Initiative
Denver is experiencing a major urban service sector shortage that is significantly impacting the ability for small and medium-sized businesses to operate, including necessary public sector jobs like educators and health care workers. In a Spearman administration, our agenda will be to provide aggressive training, support, and development to place all Denverites who want jobs. To assist in this, the Spearman administration will review how to waive requirements for city roles to assist in a massive jobs push across the city to ensure homegrown talent can access our jobs.
First and foremost, the future of Denver lies in our ability to inspire our young to invest in our city. As Mayor, Spearman will create a Office of Homegrown Workforce that will be laser focused on ensuring our young people are secured with pathways into the opportunities in life that they seek. In partnership with Denver Public Schools, we will launch a city-wide paid internship program to ensure every junior and senior in the city can have access to a relevant experience that will help them not only launch their career but stay in Denver if they choose. The Office of Neighborhood Affairs will work to ensure effective and equitable distribution of the program.
Second, to support moving both the unhoused and into the workforce we will embark on a significant push to do everything possible to match needs across the city. In partnership with the service industry, the city will commit to expanding our internal workforce for temporary work to employ all parties, designing incentives to make it worthwhile for our businesses. The coordinated marketing campaign, infrastructure, and partnership will ensure all current employers and those willing to work will find their way to each other. Particular attention will be given to the unhoused who seek jobs that can support our city for those who want to receive services - we will establish (with all our public, nonprofit and private sector partners) a streamlined system to get people where they need to go.
“Denver gave me everything. As your next mayor, I will give everything to the future leaders of this city. Our Neighborhood Workforce Initiative will be the largest public-private education partnership in the history of Denver to bring the unemployed and underemployed into our economy. My Office of Homegrown Workforce will work to bring all relevant agencies, higher education entities, and business together to accomplish our biggest north star - every kid on track to graduate to achieve their dreams.”
The promise to our neighborhoods:
To add 5,280 workers with our neighborhood workforce agenda over the next four years
Establish a city-wide internship program to support the next generation of homegrown talent in our city
Phase 4 - Neighborhood Housing Plan
Denver’s neighborhoods need help to house our workers. Spearman is proposing to raise a $100 million dollar Neighborhood Housing funding through public-private partnerships, to support neighborhood-appropriate development and shift from commercial or underutilized public space to residential across the city, and new development. Particular attention will be provided to working with Denver Public Schools, RTD, and other public partners who currently hold underutilized land and spaces as prime targets for these options. Attention will be paid to ensuring housing is context sensitive to the neighborhood and that density is placed in areas where it can be supported by transportation.
Essential to the future of Denver is the ability for the city and developers to partner together to generate significant new housing options. In a Spearman administration, the Office of Neighborhood Affairs will ensure housing is developed aggressively to be shared with those who participate in our workforce plan and are in prioritized fields - such as education, health care, city workers, and the unhoused.
The campaign is modeling the plan after learning lessons from around the country and nation, including Calgary, Vienna, and New York City. Through a competitive grant process, our Neighborhood Housing Plan will prioritize developers, vendors, and partners in the plan that spend their time and focus on hiring those unhoused and those who are transitioning into the workforce. This will spur partnerships between higher education, business and beyond.
“Our Neighborhood Housing Plan is anchored on the idea that we need rapid, sustained, and systemic conversion of our unused commercial real estate to housing stock. This will bring people back into downtown, solve the issue of unused real estate downtown, underutilized public buildings, and bring more units online. There is no path to housing affordability with adaptive reuse of commercial properties.”
The promise to our neighborhoods:
Launch a $100 million public-private Neighborhood Housing Initiative to help promote adaptive reuse and new housing that can serve Denver’s needs, leveraging state, federal, and private resources
A Thriving Local Economy
As a small business owner, Kwame knows that homegrown businesses and workers power Denver’s economy. As Mayor, Kwame will be committed to building an economy that works for everyone, which starts with supporting, hiring, and developing locally.
Kwame has firsthand experience with the challenges that businesses and entrepreneurs face, having successfully saved an independent bookstore, the Tattered Cover, during the height of the pandemic. To help ignite Denver’s economic renewal, Kwame will work to remove barriers that stand in the way of local businesses, our workers, and entrepreneurs.
Kwame will rebuild our local economy by:
Creating a city fund for seed and emergency capital for locally owned businesses. This capital will be provided with low interest rates and mandatory timelines for efficient deployment. And it will help foster businesses aligned with our Denver neighborhoods.
Seeking to influence large Denver-based organizations to become “anchor institutions” via leadership and partnership incentives. Anchor institutions will pledge to source goods, workers, and IT from Denver neighborhoods.
Elevating the city’s infrastructure to provide worker training for marginalized and student communities, and incentives for local businesses to employ these workers.
Using sales tax dollars to emulate the federal government’s Employee Retention Credit program, which gave tax dollars back to businesses that kept their employees on payroll during the pandemic. This policy will allow companies to continue increasing minimum wages to their employees, while also lowering their effective labor rates.
Immigration and Migration Policy
Kwame is committed to serving all Denver residents, and that includes immigrant and refugee communities. Much like our city saw the need to compassionately respond to the sudden influx of Venezuelan refugees in the winter of 2022/2023, Kwame intends to work with our city’s immigrant and refugee communities with that same level of compassion and inclusion.
As mayor, Kwame will work with Denver’s City Council and local immigrant and refugee serving nonprofits and communities to pass a city wide ordinance to formally declare Denver a Sanctuary City.
Why? Because immigrants and refugees are a valuable part of Denver’s community and identity.
Kwame will institute the following:
A strong economy: From East Colfax to Federal Boulevard, immigrants and refugees through their small business and restaurants add a vibrancy that contributes to the culture of our city and to our economy.
Community safety: A Sanctuary City ordinance is in line with Kwame’s public safety policy. Sanctuary policies help keep our communities safe by making sure that all residents, regardless of immigration status, feel comfortable calling the Police and Fire Departments during emergencies and cooperating with City agencies during public safety situations.
Community health: Sanctuary policies promote trust between immigrant and refugee communities and City services. Communities are more healthy when they feel comfortable seeking City medical care, public health services, and social resources.
With community stakeholders, Kwame will propose inclusive policies by:
Formally declaring Denver a Sanctuary City by passing a Sanctuary Ordinance prohibits City employees from using City funds or resources to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of Federal immigration law unless such assistance is required by federal or state law.
Increase funding to Denver’s Immigrant Legal Services Fund to continue modeling fairness in immigration proceedings and keeping our communities and families together.
Create an immigrant and refugee entrepreneurial training program at the city to help immigrants and refugees launch their own businesses in our city and continue contributing to our robust economy.
Growing Denver's Green Economy
Kwame believes that a green energy policy is not just important for the environment, but also for the economic development of Denver. As the next mayor of Denver, Kwame will prioritize the development of clean energy and sustainability in the city.
Kwame will implement a comprehensive green energy policy that will include the following:
Electrification of City Fleets: Kwame will work towards transitioning the city’s fleet of vehicles to electric vehicles, setting an ambitious goal of 50% of city fleet vehicles being electric by 2030.
Energy Efficient Buildings: Kwame will promote energy efficient buildings by encouraging the use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal energy in city owned properties, as well as work to improve the energy efficiency of existing and new city structures.
Green Jobs: Kwame believes that the transition to a clean energy economy will create thousands of new jobs in the green sector, including opportunities for apprenticeships and reskilling for workers transitioning into the sector.
Transportation Emissions Reduction: Kwame will prioritize investments in climate-friendly transportation projects such as public transportation, cycling infrastructure, and pedestrian-friendly walkways to reduce car dependence and improve air quality in Denver.
Enabling a transition to Electric Vehicles: Kwame will work to to make EV charges available across city properties, parking lots, and in public-private partnerships to increase access in parking garages as well as on-site in multi-family housing.
Water Conservation: Kwame is committed to preserving Denver’s water resources and promoting water conservation measures throughout the city. He will work to implement water-saving technologies in city properties and encourage residents to adopt water-efficient practices.
Kwame’s green energy policy is a key component of his overall vision for a greener, more sustainable Denver. With a focus on creating new jobs, improving air quality, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Kwame’s green energy policy will play a critical role in building a better future for Denver and its residents.
Robust Public School System
As Mayor of Denver, Kwame understands the critical role that education plays in creating a bright future for our city and its residents. As the product of the Denver Public School system and the son of a DPS teacher, he knows that students who receive a quality education are more likely to succeed in life and contribute to Denver’s economy. That’s why Kwame is committed to working with the Denver Public Schools (DPS) and the school board to create excellent educational opportunities for Denver students.
Kwame will foster a robust public education system by:
Vocational Opportunities: Kwame believes that Denver students should have access to a variety of educational and career paths, including vocational opportunities. He wants to work with DPS to create new vocational programs that will prepare students for success in Denver’s economy. These programs will give students hands-on training in industries that are in high demand, such as healthcare, construction, and technology. This will provide students with the skills they need to get good-paying jobs in Denver and contribute to the city’s economy. As Mayor, Kwame will work work to provide budgetary support for internships and training that help students gain the skills they need to be productive citizens in Denver.
School Closures: Kwame knows that school closures can be devastating for communities, especially for low-income families who depend on their schools for food and other services. As Mayor, he wants to ensure that communities aren’t left behind if a school closes. He wants to work with DPS to develop a plan that will help these communities unlock new opportunities with the land and buildings that DPS vacates. Whether through community centers, affordable housing for teachers, opportunities for new local businesses, or other initiatives, Kwame wants to ensure that these spaces are used to help Denver’s communities thrive. DPS has a large amound of unused and underdeveloped land that could be used, in partnership with the Mayor’s office, to create new affordable housing and economic opportunities in Denver. In the future, we will work with DPS to audit and create incentives for partnerships for all school closures during our tenure.
Higher Teacher Salaries and Teacher Housing: Our students deserve the best education, and we need to support higher teacher salaries to create the best possible educational environment for them. Further, with increasing rents and housing prices, many teachers are being priced out of the communities they teach in. As mayor, Kwame will work to use city and district land to build teacher housing. As the neighborhood mayor, Kwame will work to ensure that every neighborhood that educators teach in is also a neighborhood they can live in.
School Board: Kwame recognizes that the next mayor of Denver must be a leader for the entire city. As mayor, he will actively support and help recruit candidates for school board that are focused on the needs of our students and the sound governance of our school system - not on distractions and polarizing issues that only divide us.
When there is dysfunction with our school board the people who lose the most are our students, especially low-income students. We need a mayor who is willing to use their leadership to help move the school board towards pragmatic outcomes.
Denver's Psilocybin and Cannabis Industries
As a proud Denver native and business owner, Kwame understands the importance of creating a thriving and equitable community for all residents. That is why he is committed to supporting the legalization of psilocybin and the growth of the cannabis industry in Denver.
Under Proposition 122, psilocybin was decriminalized in Colorado and will soon be available for use in licensed healing centers. As Mayor, Kwame believes it is important to ensure a smooth rollout of this new industry, including the proper training of public safety officers to de-escalate situations involving psilocybin.
Kwame also believes that the city of Denver has unfairly discriminated against the cannabis industry and has failed to fully embrace the opportunities presented by legalization.
As Mayor, Kwame will work to create a supportive environment for both the psilocybin and cannabis industries in Denver. By working together, we can create a city that is equitable, thriving, and safe for all residents.
Kwame will foster a supportive environment in Denver for both the psilocybin and cannabis industries by:
Proposing legislative so that cannabis is treated no differently than it does alcohol or other controlled substances. Specifically, this includes support for a regulatory framework that makes opening a cannabis bar look more like opening a normal bar and moving towards a tax structure that is more fair to the cannabis industry, similar to the rates paid on alcohol.
Ensuring that the city provides a supportive and welcoming environment for cannabis businesses by working to eliminate any unnecessary barriers to success for these businesses.
Creating strong public-private partnership with licensed healing centers that, under Proposition 122, will be certified to distribute psylocybin.
Addressing Homelessness: Compassion, Coordination, and Accountability
Kwame’s policy framework for addressing homelessness in Denver has three main components: compassion, coordination, and accountability.
The city will accelerate individualized services for those who need and want them, with a streamlined system to access services such as mental health, addiction, housing, and workforce support. There will be free mental health screenings, a 1:1 approach to meet unique needs, and shared data infrastructure to provide services across providers. All individuals who want services will receive them and be treated with respect.
The city will launch an outside audit of current programs and contracts, create a new city agency to integrate services, launch a public-facing dashboard to keep residents informed, and shift resources to serving people instead of just moving the problem around. The city will also work with state leaders to secure state mental health beds and ensure that immediate local needs are met and responded to.
The city will enforce laws, including the camping ban, and work with other levels of government to find solutions. Public safety teams will be empowered to enforce policies that ensure community safety, and illegal activities that cause harm or disruption will not be tolerated. The Mayor’s office will conduct an audit of all existing service providers to assess which solutions work, and which do not.
World Class Workforce for the Future
As a member of the board of directors for the Denver Public Schools Foundation, Kwame is acutely aware of the challenges facing our public education system, as well as the new opportunities. As Mayor, Kwame will be committed to ensuring that every child in Denver, from every neighborhood, has access to a world class education.
Kwame is a testament to the fact that education is the key to building a strong and prosperous future. He’s committed to delivering that future to the next generation of Denver, and Kwame knows that future starts by investment in our educators, our students, and our communities.
Build a coalition and support ballot initiatives to raise pay for teachers, who should be paid a professional wage.
Incentivize deeper training in family and community partnership to ensure families are key players in the education of their children.
Help solve some of the city’s worker shortages and help decrease high school drop-out rates through extensive internship programs that provide vocational training.
Create neighborhood plans that leverage Denver Public School’s land and provide incentives to both the district and developers to create teacher-workforce housing.
Denver-First Infrastructure & Public Transportation
As Denver keeps growing, our density continues to stress our transportation needs. We must innovate our transportation ecosystem and find ways to improve how Denverites get around, while continuing to combat climate change.
Kwame knows that a strong transit system is an essential component of a vibrant and livable city, and he is committed to making sure that Denver has the transportation infrastructure and policies it needs to thrive in the 21st century. With Kwame as mayor, Denver must be a city where everyone can get around easily, safely, and affordably. We will get there by providing a Transit Bill of Rights for every resident of the city.
Kwame’s Transit Bill of Rights will protect your rights to:
Quick and efficient transit options.
Be safe and secure on your travels.
Accessible bike lanes throughout the city.
Safe electric transportation that you can afford.
Regional transportation that works for Denver.
A walkable city.
Safe Neighborhoods & Neighborhood Policing
Denver—like all major cities during the Covid pandemic—experienced a dramatic increase in crime. Instead of debating why or how we got to this point, our next mayor needs a clear plan to make our communities feel safe again. Increases in crime drain the life out of a city—and we need bold actions to get Denver back on track.
Kwame will reduce crime by:
Restructuring the Denver Police Department to integrate neighborhood plans
As Denver evolves to cater to the specific needs of our neighborhoods, our policing staffing and policies should follow suit. Denver Police officers will specialize in certain neighborhoods, allowing them to be a part of the community where they patrol. Like all members of the municipal workforce, our officers will see themselves as neighborhood advocates. Study after study shows that, if a neighborhood and its police officers develop connections, both crime and negativity towards the police decrease.
Dramatically expanding our STAR program
We must credit our current Mayor, the Downtown Denver Partnership, and the Denver Police Department for implementing the STAR program. It’s working. We need to dramatically expand the program. And we can assign STAR units to be located in specific neighborhoods across Denver.
We should also emulate STAR innovation to help reduce other violence in our city.
Creating a police pipeline
Kwame believes our youth want to help the city they grew up in. We must create a pipeline—in partnership with Denver Public Schools—to recruit the next generation of officers. We must work to create to create a new pipeline to law enforcement that starts from members of our community. Once again, officers who not just know their community, but are products of it, will serve our police force and Denver with the dignity and respect our city deserves.
Investing in common sense infrastructure
Our neighborhoods deserve working street lights. Vacant store fronts need thriving businesses. And our streets need foot traffic. We will invest in the local economy to ensure each block has these resources to combat crime.
Enforcing existing laws
It should go without saying, but we cannot deter crime if we are unwilling to implement our laws.
Housing and Affordability:
Housing Solutions for All
Every Denverite deserves to have a home that meets their needs. Safe, stable, and affordable housing is the foundation for every individual’s and family’s success. Our housing isn’t just about buildings; it’s about who lives in them—and that means housing is about all of us.
Kwame’s neighborhood plan will allow us to rethink housing throughout all of Denver:
Embrace the Vienna Plan
The city of Vienna (in Austria) has aggressively and successfully built workforce housing with principles that would work right here in Denver. In short, Vienna takes vacant land and incentivizes development that supports the adjacent community. The Vienna plan works, and—under Kwame’s neighborhood approach—that approach will work here too.
Better utilization of unused public and private land
Kwame will demand an audit of all unused land, whether owned by the city of Denver or owned by a public or private organization. Based on the results, the city will use the Vienna plan to implement incentives for developing this unused land.
Adaptive reuse in upper downtown
The beautiful skyscrapers that showcase Denver’s downtown from the east looking west are vacant. Many of these buildings were vacant before the pandemic. We have a huge opportunity to transform these massive buildings into housing units. The growth in housing will also serve to help revitalize downtown.
Kwame will promote zoning policies to make these types of developments feasible and bountiful.
Eliminate red tape
As neighborhoods create their plans and the city adjusts its employees to be aligned to specific neighborhoods, we can quickly move to eliminate the bureaucratic red tape that stalls plans and makes proposals unaffordable.
Kwame will also post response time goals and how the city is performing against these goals to push transparency, which will improve overall accountability and help the city modify workflows over time to meet our neighborhoods' individual needs.
SUPPORT OUR FUTURE
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