Denver Mayor Michael Hancock claimed victory Tuesday night in his hard-fought runoff contest against challenger Jamie Giellis.

At 8:30 p.m., with 137,188 votes counted of 408,070 registered voters, Hancock was leading by 11.2 percentage points, with 55.6% to Giellis' 44.4%.

He took the stage at his victory party and claimed the win about 8:48 p.m.

“This is the people’s victory,” Hancock told his cheering supporters at the EXDO Event Center. “Tonight, this victory is for everyone in Denver, Colorado.”

He asked his supporters to give Giellis a round of applause for having run “a spirited campaign.”

Then after thanking his family, campaign staff, supporters and God, Hancock turned his remarks to his third four-year term, a job he said he aspired to since he was a 13-year-old student at Cole Middle School.

He was flanked on stage by his large extended family and former Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Mayor Wellington Webb and former first lady Wilma Webb, all of whom campaigned for him.

“In a city of so many possibilities, I want every child to achieve their dream, the way that I did,” Hancock told the crowd. “I heard the expectations of a great city. I heard you. You said, 'Serve with distinction. Make us proud. Be present. Be aware. And leave no one behind.'”

Giellis later called to congratulate Hancock. 

"I will continue to fight for this great city," she told a cheering crowd of her supporters.

"This is not the speech I wanted to give or the outcome that we want, but we must move forward as a city in unity. I hope the mayor and his team will thoughtfully consider the many issues raised during this campaign.

"The most important thing, is that we changed the conversation in Denver. ... We gave the people that are left out of the conversation a voice, and I will try to find a way to give them a voice."

She said residents still "have a fight to fight against runaway development, against pollution, against traffic. ...

"To every woman, every young woman, every girl, I ran for many reasons, but I ran especially for you. For every woman in the city who has been told, 'No, it's not your turn,' for every woman who has been told, 'No, you don't have enough experience' or 'You're not smart enough,' for every woman who has experienced harassment or discrimination or a hostile workplace, I ran for you too."

Through often intense debates, the candidates outlined starkly different visions of the city.

Hancock boasts that Denver is one of the most desirable places to live, with low unemployment, a vibrant economy and a quality of life that has attracted more than 110,00 new residents and 8,100 new companies over the past decade.

Giellis, an urban-planning expert and former president of the River North Arts District, tapped into the angst over that growth, saying the administration’s failure to manage it has resulted in traffic congestion, increased homelessness, ugly new buildings and displacement of traditional neighborhoods.

The candidates also aired major policy differences, with Giellis saying she would appeal the city's 2012 urban camping ban. 

But in the May 7 general election, Denver voters overwhelmingly rejected Amendment 300, which sought to overturn the ban and to assert the right of homeless people to live in public places.

Giellis opposed Amendment 300, noting that it went far beyond repealing the ban. She then modified her position, saying only the city council could repeal the ban, and later said she would work with the council to replace the ban with a “smart” policy — drawing criticism from the Hancock campaign for flip-flopping.

Hancock consistently supported the ban, saying it gives police a tool to keep homeless people from camping out on the streets and to move them into shelters and services.

 

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