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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock says market forces, not favoritism to builders, are driving building boom

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock makes his ...

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock makes his State of the City address in the gymnasium at the Hiawatha Davis Jr. Recreation Center on July 10, 2017 in Denver.

The perception among many community activists that Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is too friendly to the developers who contribute to his campaigns and in some cases are his friends has become a sore point.

In a recent interview with The Denver Post, the mayor defended himself extensively against the charge. More than any other question posed, one about his relationship with developers — and their structural advantages in community fights against their plans — prompted a lengthy answer from Hancock in which he insisted, “I would never sell my integrity for anyone.”

A separate story published by The Post on Tuesday examines the opposition that’s brewing ahead of Hancock’s likely run for a third term in the May 2019 election. It quotes briefly from his comments on the development question, but below is his full response.

In summary: He argued that any perception of favoritism toward developers “lacks academic sense” and is based on a misreading of the market forces shaping Denver’s building boom.

At the end of a nearly 4-minute response during which maintained a pleasant but professorial tone, Hancock added, seemingly off the cuff: “It drives me crazy when people say that.”

Hancock’s comments have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: You’re seen as developer-friendly. Developers have donated heavily to your campaigns. And the reality is that in Denver, the developers are the ones who are savvy. They know how the process works and how the permits work, so the system kind of favors them. Are there things you plan to do to try to even the playing field for people who feel like developers are running this town?

Answer: “Well, I think that here’s the reality — forgive me, if you’ll indulge me for a second. First of all, the reasons why I say that the accusations are off-base are, one, that I would never sell my integrity — for anyone. My ability to walk out of this office proud of the service that I gave also means that I will maintain my integrity, not just for me but for my family.

“Two, if people understood the process, they would realize that the mayor does not decide where development goes and does not engage in the permitting process. Someone may bring a design to me and I may offer an idea to them, but this is their project, and we stay out of that.

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