My time as the council representative for the FINE District 9 is ending, and July 15 will be my last day. As I close this chapter of my life, I’ve been reflecting on what we’ve been able to …
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My time as the council representative for the FINE District 9 is ending, and July 15 will be my last day. As I close this chapter of my life, I’ve been reflecting on what we’ve been able to accomplish together over the last eight years.
My unlikely journey into politics began with a frenzied pace and on July 17, 2011, I was sworn in as the youngest African-American councilperson ever elected in Denver, having just beat 38 candidates in the most crowded race in Denver’s history. I had no political experience, but it was my passion for young people and my vision for connecting diverse communities that drove me.
We set a strong pace with our 100 Day Plan, which outlined our office’s priorities for the first 100 days in office. At the end of those first 100 days it became very clear that if our office was to be successful we would need to actively listen to the needs and desires of constituents across Denver’s most diverse district. So, we launched the “Imagin8 Listening Tour,” a districtwide professionally facilitated listening tour designed to map out the ideas and needs of the people. The goal was to capture the imagination of residents by asking engaging questions, analyzing the results and turning them into action.
Every initiative I led was sparked from conversations I had while knocking on thousands of doors and from the data we gathered on this tour. An effective council person listens, legislates and leads.
I want to share what I heard from you and your neighbors, and how we turned that into a robust set of progressive accomplishments.
You said, “We want safer neighborhoods and improved public safety.” So while I was council president we passed the most progressive use-of-force policy in the nation. The crime rate has dropped, even though our population has drastically increased.
You said, “We want bold investments in our young people.” So we worked to fund and expand the Denver Preschool Program, providing universal access to preschool for all 4-year-olds in Denver. I also decriminalized marijuana possession for residents 18-21 years old, preventing thousands of young people from entering the criminal justice system.
You said, “We want a new rec center in the district.” So I carried on the work and legacy of my predecessor and helped build Denver’s best recreation center, which proudly bears her name — the Carla Madison Recreation Center.
You said, “We want a nonprofit that we can take our ideas to.” So we launched a nonprofit that built upon the assets of residents.
You said, “We want better parks.” So we made improvements to every single park in District 9.
You said, “We want the Five Points to thrive, once again.” So we helped lead a renaissance of new investment along Welton Street, empowering the next generation of women and minority business leaders.
You said, “We want better infrastructure as Denver grows.” So I chaired the Council Committee for Elevate Denver GO Bond, which brought in more than $232 million of new investment to District 9 alone. This means we’re building the Denver that our grandchildren will be able to enjoy.
You said, “We want more affordable housing.” So we created Denver’s first affordable housing fund and largest in the state, resulting in more new affordable housing than any other district. Now, we have more than 5,400 units of low-income and workforce housing in the district with more in the pipeline.
You said, “We want healthier neighborhoods.” So we eliminated food deserts by building new grocery stores and published a healthy cookbook that shared recipes from neighbors across the district.
Since that warm summer day in 2011, when I was sworn into office to serve you, my family has grown; I experienced loss; I served two terms as council president; I beat cancer, twice; and I built an office that effectively handled thousands of constituents’ issues each year while sponsoring countless neighborhood events.
While leaving after an electoral loss is bittersweet, my heart is full, and I am incredibly proud of the work our office was able to accomplish. I look forward to being able to spend more time with my wife and our kids, and I will continue to serve the residents of this great city in a new capacity.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you over these last eight years as your councilman. It has truly been the highest honor of my life to fulfill my calling to build an inclusive Denver.
Denver Councilmember Albus Brooks represents District 9. The district covers north central Denver, including City Park, the Central Business District, Five Points and more. Brooks served as council president from July 2016 to July 2018. He can be reached at Albus.Brooks@Denvergov.org. Brooks was recently unseated by Candi CdeBaca in the June runoff election. Cdebaca will be sworn in with the rest of City Council on July 15.
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