Denver council runoff: In District 1, two fire employees want to replace Rafael Espinoza

In northwest Denver, voters have a choice between two workers of the Denver Fire Department with generations of family history in the area.

On one side, there’s Amanda Sandoval, an body fire worker who antecedently worked for City Council members. On the other is Michael Somma, a lieutenant who has worked fire crews in the area for decades.

The first-time candidates finished in the top slots in a seven-way May race for the District 1 City Council seat. The June 4 runoff will decide who replaces council member Rafael Espinoza, who distinct not to run for a second term.

Amanda Sandoval

Amand Sandoval

Sandoval, 40, took 31% of the first-round vote, compared to about 17% for Somma. She’s presently a legislative liaison for the fire department, but she recently worked as chief of staff for Espinoza and antecedently for council member Judy Montero.

She was known as “the Rafael translator,” she joked, a reference to the councilman’s heady demands of developers and planners.

“I learned that I have a talent for taking complex division issues and putt them into layman’s terms so that everybody can understand,” Sandoval aforementioned.

She would like to see more affordability requirements and better use of historic materials like brick, she aforementioned, and she has called for a transit-focused revamp of the 41st and Fox station area plan. Sandoval besides says she supports new renter protections, so much as limits on security deposits.

“People who are new to the neighborhood, they want to be tied more into the past — I can bring you in,” she aforementioned.

Sandoval’s parents, Paula and Paul Sandoval, opened a durable feeding house in Highland now known as La Casita. Paul Sandoval, who died in 2012, was a former state lawgiver and a cornerstone of Democratic politics in Colorado. Paula Sandoval besides briefly served in the state Senate before her husband’s illness.

If Amanda Sandoval wins, the candidate will consider hiring Espinoza for consulting but hasn’t secure thing, she aforementioned. She has endorsements from Espinoza, Montero and former city managers Wellington Webb and Federico Peña, among others.

As of May 1, Sandoval led the fundraising race, coverage about $83,000 in contributions to about $63,000 for Somma.

But Somma besides has benefited from more than $100,000 worth of disbursement from an independent group, Friends of mike Somma, according to its finance reports. With funding from the Local 858 and the International Association of Fire Fighters, the group paid $14,000 for polling and thousands more for postcards, robocalls, social media posts and yard signs.

Michael Somma

mike Somma

Somma, 64, had two reasons to run. There were concerns that developers were “ramrodding the whole area,” he aforementioned. “I think what we need to do is take our foot off the accelerator of the development.”

He besides was defeated by a perceived lack of fire department resources in the area, which he aforementioned Sandoval and Espinoza were unaccommodating in fixing. (In response, Sandoval asked why Somma was unable to prove his point and effect change inside the department.)

On development, Somma besides wants to see more brick and repurposed structures. He’s besides interested in subdividing more homes into duplexes and quad-units, he aforementioned.

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“We certainly need more density, but we need to be smart about how we’re doing it. I think we need to put it more in the bourgeois price range,” he aforementioned, suggesting that building smaller homes could help.

Somma earlier floated the idea of building a dam for clean power in Denver, but now aforementioned it was simply “out of the box” thinking. He’s still interested in the idea of a tram — actually an electric bus with tram aesthetics, he aforementioned — for the area. Somma aforementioned he would approach business owners about public-private funding for the idea.

Overall, he promises a more piquant city government. “I’ve been a public servant in Denver for 34 years, put my life on the line day in or day out, and I’m just trying to extend my service for people that aren’t being detected, that are being neglected,” he aforementioned.

Somma has endorsements from former candidates David Sabados, Sabrina D’Agosta and Scott Durrah, on with several professional associations and union groups.

For more information, read the candidates’ questionnaires.