For Rafael, it started years ago when he moved into a North West Denver neighborhood that he fell in love with. He moved into a Jefferson Park 1908 half-duplex in 1999 at a time when the neighborhood perennially had the highest crime-rate in Denver. He saw what this neighborhood could be again and became an active member of his community to create positive change.
Rafael, who is an architect, sold his duplex and designed and built a new home five blocks away, choosing to remain in Jefferson Park, because he loves this North Denver neighborhood and the people that make it a special place. As we walked around the Northwest Denver home that Rafael built in 2006, he showed me part of his journey that brought him to run for Denver City Council in District 1.
It started with a street repair gone bad
Rafael showed me the street next to his house that had been repaired 5 years ago, was fixed improperly by the city, and today still remains in poor shape. Rafael said that within 18 months of the original replacement of the road, the city street was in worse shape than what had been replaced. After Rafael talked to the city, they put in a new patch on the road and it also failed and there are still deep ruts in the road. This wouldn’t be the last run-in with the city of Denver.
Just a few blocks south of his home sits Sports Authority Field. When the stadium naming rights were sold to Sports Authority, new signage that would have been obtrusive to the neighborhood was scheduled to be put on the Broncos stadium. Rafael successfully led a fight against City Administration, Stadium District, Denver Broncos, and their management, lobbyists, and attorney's, when they tried to ignore agreements, brand views, and take money from Denver taxpayers.
People begin to ask Rafael to run for City Council
Because of Rafael’s work to make this North West Denver neighborhood a better place to live, he began hearing “rumblings” from neighbors that he should run for City Council. He even began getting asked to run from people outside the neighborhood who knew of his efforts.
After meeting with a group of about 40 neighborhood activists, Rafael decided to run for the Denver City Council in District 1. Rafael says this is a “100 percent grass roots effort” and his campaign manager who is a Swedish national, was compelled to become a US citizen just so she could vote for Rafael in this election.
Rafael has a vision and a plan
As I sat with Rafael, the thought that came to my mind was that this Jefferson Park resident has a passion to help improve his North Denver neighborhood and make life better for the people who live there. He not only has passion, he has a vision and a plan to accomplish this. Rafael says, on the day after the election, he will be meeting with the constituents of District 1 “face-to-face” and hearing their concerns. He will then go to the city and come up with solutions when he starts on July 20. Rafael said, “I will meet the constituents, hear their concerns and do something about it!”
A sitting incumbent on the Denver City Council has not lost an election in the last 30 years. That will likely change on May 5.