Kelly Brough’s life could be a reflection of Denver itself.
Her own profile synchs with much of the city’s image: educated but down to earth; cosmopolitan yet compassionate. She reflects Denver’s diversity, too, as a mom to bi-racial kids.
She also can relate on a very personal level to some of Denver’s most daunting challenges. Notably, its struggle with crime and drug abuse. Her father was murdered when she was a child. Her late husband lost a battle with addiction, ending in suicide. More recently, her household fell prey to the city’s epidemic of auto theft — though that’s hardly news these days in a city that’s No. 3 in the U.S. for motor-vehicle theft and in the top 10 for crime in general.
As she put it to The Gazette’s editorial board not long ago, “This discussion about public safety is not a theoretical discussion for me.”
Yet, it’s far more than Brough’s attributes and experiences that set her apart from the pack of candidates hoping to succeed Denver’s term-limited Mayor Michael Hancock on April 4.
What earns Kelly Brough our endorsement to be Denver’s next mayor is, first and foremost, her proven ability to run the city. Brough is in fact the only candidate in the race who actually has managed Denver — as chief of staff to then-Mayor (now U.S. Sen.) John Hickenlooper. Chief of staff is the post that gets things done — the troubleshooter in chief; essentially, the shadow mayor. In other words, Brough knows how to wield the levers of power at City Hall.
That’s also where she honed the policy depth a mayor needs to pursue realistic solutions and the political savvy to put those solutions to work.
Brough is best known as the longtime chief of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. There the M.B.A.-degree holder cemented her ties to Denver’s business community and developed a reputation as a champion of policies promoting the community’s economic vitality.
Alongside her skill set and experience, we like her innovative yet practical take on tackling tough issues — and her sensitivity in assessing the impact on our community’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations.
Consider her stands on some key concerns.
Homelessness: Address the issues of our unhoused population regionally with other metro-area governments. Develop better data, and use it to address the diverse needs of people experiencing homelessness so they no longer seek to camp. Also enforce the camping ban.
Crime: Brough supports an all-of-the-above approach, including a fully staffed, funded and transparent police department as well as other first responders to address issues like addiction or mental health. She wants the legislature to restore felony status for fentanyl possession in any amount, and she would ask lawmakers, “What was your goal?” in watering down penalties.
Affordable housing: Partner with builders to develop private, multi-family housing on city-owned property — above parking lots, for example. It could slash the cost of high-density, residential development.
Schools: Denver Public Schools’ leadership is “dysfunctional,” and getting the school district back on track is pivotal to the entire city and its children. While City Hall has no say over DPS, she would use her bully pulpit as mayor to champion better school board candidates in the next election.
Downtown’s decline: Match people in camps with the services they need to free them from life on the streets.
Denver City Hall needs a CEO like Kelly Brough and not just another politician. She displays the skill, leadership, experience, vision and compassion to sustain the things we all love about Denver — and to transform what needs to improve.
Now, more than ever, Denver needs Kelly Brough as its mayor.