Anti-gang activist Terrance Roberts targets Denver mayor’s seat | Policy

Anti-gang activist Terrance Roberts wants to be Denver’s next mayor.

And he offers city residents his “unconventional” candidacy as an alternative to “seasoned politicians,” whom he accuses of failing to confront and solve Denver’s most pressing issues.

Roberts, who is the subject of Julian Rubinstein’s book “The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood,” grew up in northeast Denver as a member of the Bloods for several years. He went from gang member to anti-gang activist, but was later charged with attempted murder and possession of a weapon by a former offender.

He is running for mayor at a time when the city is grappling with major challenges, including skyrocketing crime, soaring inflation and homelessness, fueled in part by a lack of affordable housing.

The city is also seeking to extricate itself from two years of a pandemic which has hammered its inhabitants and its businesses. Indeed, Eric Sondermann, a political commentator who writes regularly for Colorado Politics and the Gazette newspapers, described Denver as a “tired place — tired of restricted pandemic life, sure, but also tired of a long list problems with seemingly no progress or improvement.” in a column about the race to replace Michael Hancock, the city’s longtime mayor with a limited term.

Roberts said his experience gives him an edge in tackling these issues.

Roberts said he doesn’t see any “seasoned politician” having any real impact on youth violence and homelessness in the city – the two main issues he hopes to improve on if elected. He said he had the “most sensible plan to make Denver the best city in the world” and was excited to take ownership of its “unconventional” campaign.

“We can’t afford to let one of these seasoned politicians who don’t talk about these issues just become mayor of Denver so he can move on to the White House,” Roberts said. “I don’t want this to happen to my city. I don’t want that to happen to anyone who lives in Denver.

As he outlined an ambitious agenda he pledged to accomplish if elected, Roberts’ pitch to residents is that he can get the job done.

Roberts said he was already working to address issues close to his heart since 2004 through his activism with the Frontline Party for Revolutionary Action, which he described as “a political party for justice”, and that he It’s time for the city to have a mayor. ready to take the kind of actions he has.

“A lot of things that I’ve put my name to publicly, those initiatives have been completed and they’ve been completed with excellence,” Roberts said. “Citizens like me shouldn’t have to do so much protesting and fussing just to get a little voice out about what we’re trying to do for our community.”

Part of solving homelessness, Roberts said, is to create more social housing, as opposed to just affordable housing. He said that instead of banning camping and pushing the homeless into the city, he wanted to create large encampments with garbage cans, bathrooms, laundry equipment and safe use of electricity. for them.

Roberts said he knows what kids involved in gangs need — precisely because he grew up with violence in his community and his previous life as a gang member.

He said he also hopes to make the music and movie industry a bigger part of Denver culture to provide nonviolent alternatives for young people.

“I know several young people and many young leaders who can use their leadership for violence who will put down a Glock and pick up a camera,” Roberts said. “Our violence issue in Denver is primarily youth-facing gang violence, and we can certainly think of working with kids who just want a safe outlet for something to do.”

Roberts said if elected, he would seek to amend the city charter to limit a mayor’s term to two terms, instead of three, and he would give more power to the city council.

“We can’t have mayors running a city this size for 12 more years,” Roberts said. “Nobody needs to be mayor for 12 years, even if you’re a good mayor.”

Roberts said he recognized he was a polarizing figure, a label some have used to describe him. But he’s also proud to call himself a progressive, and he’s said he’s ultimately “the people’s candidate.”

“I know I tend to say things that in a city like Denver people are afraid to say because we have powerful political machines here,” Roberts said. “If people think I’m polarizing because I’m standing up against power in this city, then I’ll accept that.”

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