Activists, candidates for office call for Mayor Hancock’s resignation

Lisa Calderón speaks to press after calling for Mayor Michael Hancock’s resignation at a press conference on the steps of the City and County Building, March 7, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Around 60 community leaders and activists gathered on the steps of the City and County Building on Wednesday morning to hold a press conference demanding the resignation of Mayor Michael B. Hancock.

Lisa Calderón, co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum, spoke to an assembled crowd with diverse complaints about Hancock’s administration, and called for an internal investigation to uncover any other potential misconduct in the administration.

“What we want Mayor Hancock to know, is he needs to be held accountable for his misdeeds just like he’s supposed to hold others accountable,” Calderón said.

The mayor recently admitted to sending inappropriate text messages to a subordinate, police detective Leslie Branch-Wise, who was part of his security detail at the time, and issued an apology.

For Calderón, it’s part of a broader and more insidious culture of sexual harassment. Sean Bradley, a mayoral appointee, recently had to step down from his position as head of the Urban League due to inappropriate text messages he sent to one of his subordinates.

Joining Calderón were other speakers upset with the administration for a variety of other reasons.

City Council District 9 candidate Candi CdeBaca again raised concerns about the I-70 expansion and Olympics bid process. Business owner and mayoral candidate Kayvan Khalatbari echoed concerns about sexual harassment, as did Sonya Leyba, a sheriff’s deputy. She said she experienced and reported sexual harassment on the job, had to continue working with her harasser, and that a suspension later handed to her in a separate matter was retaliatory. Mark Thompson of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters complained of inaction in the face of a booming construction industry in Denver that he said is exploiting workers.

Kayvan Khalatbari speaks. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A letter released this week by the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police demanded the mayor’s resignation, citing what it believed to be a series of bad decisions and moral failings under Hancock’s stewardship.

Khalatbari and others at the event said they expect more women to come out with similar accounts of harassment to that of Branch-Wise.

“We’re watching the dominoes fall with the Urban League, with Lebsock in the Capitol, this is really catching women on fire across this city and state” said CdeBaca.