On February 14, a gathering of powerful women met outside Blair Caldwell African American Research Library in Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood to officially endorse and show support for Denver mayoral candidate Leslie Herod. The leaders in attendance at the press conference represent a broad range of sectors from small business owners to doctors, educators, community activists and legislators.

More than 50 women gathered to support Herod, who—if elected—would become the first African American woman to be mayor of Denver. Currently, State Rep. Herod serves as the chair of the appropriations committee and on the joint budget committee.

“We are hoping that Leslie Herod is the woman that makes history for not only women, but for African American women as well,” said the Hon. Wilma J. Webb, former state legislator and former First Lady of Denver. “Leslie has been on top of the issues that affect all of us. You can’t just focus on one set of issues if you are a leader.”

Webb explained, “There are so many instances where Leslie’s actions have made life better for so many people everywhere. For the last three years, not only our city, we as a nation have had some trying times. Some people back away from trouble. They don’t take it on and try to make the world better. Leslie has taken on the issues of women and having control of their own health and their own body, the issues of people being killed when they are being stopped for traffic violations. Leslie has taken that on with the kind of legislation that not only has improved Colorado, but is the one that Washington D.C. has emulated to get rid of guns for people that don’t necessarily need those guns.”

Webb, well-known for sponsoring legislation that adopted Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a Colorado state holiday before it became a national holiday, added “When we look at all the candidates that are running, I haven’t seen one that has the experience, the background, the know-how, the courage, the character, all of what goes with the qualities of a good leader.”

Former First Lady of Colorado Dottie Lamm, who serves as Leslie for Mayor treasurer, said “Denver is ready. Denver is ready for a new young mayor with a vision to look ahead and the grit to get it done. Denver is ready for Leslie Herod for mayor.”

Escuela Tlatelolco Centro de Estudios CEO and community activist Nita Gonzales stated, “The Gonzales family is supporting Leslie for Denver’s next mayor because of her inherent values for humanity, equity and justice. We have known Leslie for 20 years, and we have witnessed her commitment to Denver’s Chicanos, Mexicanos and Latinos.”

According to Gonzales, Herod “has brought more resources to this community than anyone else, including ensuring Servicios de la Raza has the resources needed to provide quality mental health access to the community and ensuring that the STAR program is staying true to its purpose of serving the people. No one works harder than Leslie, and she will make us all proud as mayor.”

The Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) program deploys emergency response teams that include emergency medical technicians and behavioral health clinicians to engage individuals experiencing distress related to mental health issues, poverty, homelessness, and substance abuse,

“Once she sets her mind to it, you better damn well be sure it will get done. There will be some battles, but it will get done,” stressed Gonzales, the oldest daughter of Chicano civil rights icons Rodolfo “Corky” and Geraldine Gonzales.

University of Colorado Regent Wanda James talked about her experience working with the young Herod when she was a student at the CU-Boulder and racial issues became front and center.

“What impressed me the most about Herod is her voice. She has never failed to stand up for the humanity of people. As a small business owner, I have been massively impressed with the work that Leslie has done in this city to ensure that small businesses have a voice at the table,” said James.” That’s what you are seeing today with all of these amazing women from all of these different walks of life to be able to ensure that we are putting forth a mayor of Denver who has the soul, the time, the energy to be able touch people’s lives.”

Lamm, the founder of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, underscored Herod’s ability to engage with Denver residents. “Neighborhood to neighborhood she has been going around asking, ‘What do you want? What do you need? What are your challenges here? Tell me. I need to know.’ ”

In response to the support, Herod said, “If I didn’t have all these mothers behind me, I wouldn’t be as strong a campaigner as I am today. What’s really important is what you do when you serve, what we’re gonna do for Denver and I know from my love for the city that Denver is ready to take on its toughest challenges.” 

Herod, who broke barriers by becoming the first LGBTQ+ Black woman elected to the Colorado legislature in 2016, echoed the sentiments of residents who are experiencing a lack of affordable living in Denver.

“When we are talking about being pushed out of our communities, how are we supposed to stay and build healthy generations if we can’t even live here? This town has become unaffordable. We must step in to change the trajectory, just stepping in and calling out gentrification doesn’t mean that our fight is over. In fact, we must reinvest in our community because our neighborhoods make Denver strong. When I think about our small businesses especially those owned by women, we see ‘for lease’ signs, we see closed signs. We are not doing enough to support small businesses across the city.” 

“To earn the endorsement from these incredible women leaders here today is an honor I do not take lightly,” said Herod, who noted the pioneering history of the women endorsing her, including the Hon. Rep. Rosemary Marshall. The would-be mayor acknowledged Marshall for getting her started in politics.

Denver’s general election will take place on April 4, and a potential runoff is scheduled for June 6. As of the DUS print deadline, at least 17 candidates were still in the race.

Editor’s note: For more information about Herod, visit www.leslieformayor.com.