Editor’s note: This represents the opinion of The Denver Post editorial board, which is separate from the paper’s news operation.
Ironically Denver’s champion of election participation and civic engagement is the only city-wide candidate running unopposed in the 2023 City of Denver election.
Clerk and Recorder Paul López has spearheaded outreach efforts across the city to ensure every eligible voter knows how to participate in the city’s elections, and he has stretched those efforts into immigrant communities to ensure those who aren’t eligible to vote know how they can become participants in America’s governance through means other than voting.
López has also fought hard to implement the Fair Election Fund, which for the first time ever is providing funding to candidates in the city election on April 4 who commit to not accepting money from corporations, dark money groups or other entities other than individuals. When the city wanted to dip into the fund to help finance other priorities during a budget shortfall, López said no. Now the program has the funds it needs to support the dozens of candidates running for city office this year.
We are particularly impressed with López’s commitment to transparency.
The overhaul of the records department was long overdue.
Searchlight Denver – the new program for campaign finance, lobbyist activity, and gift reporting is shedding new light for Denver residents on who is moving and shaking this city with their activism and their dollars. López did an excellent job rolling out the new system which has moved Denver from the dark days of hidden Superbowl trips and backroom dealings with shadow lobbyists into the bright light of transparency.
We hope with this election the system ushers in a new day of transparency for Denver. Voters should spend time on Searchlight before casting their ballots this election, researching candidates and incumbents.
López’s dream is to bring that same transparency to city contracts. The city doles out millions every year via contracts and López says those are in need of additional scrutiny. Getting those documents on Searchlight would be groundbreaking. We wish the clerk luck in his endeavor.
“I do see a lot of undo influence in the city,” López said, noting he signs every contract the city issues.
The other critical part of López’s work is administering the foreclosure process. As we saw with the HOA foreclosures in Green Valley Ranch, Denverites more than ever need to know their rights when it comes to facing off against overly aggressive lien holders whose intent is not to protect the neighborhood but something else entirely.
López said there is work he would still like to do in terms of making certain Denverites know their rights, understand the process, and have equal access to foreclosure proceedings.
We could not agree more. Homeowners need to know their options if they find themselves unable to pay taxes, HOA fees or their monthly mortgage. Infinitely better options exist, including a short sale, than going through the foreclosure process. We envision a system where potential bidders can see all the debts tied to a property owner in one place, making bidding less scary for non-institutional investors.
And then, if the worst-case scenario does arrive, we want as many potential buyers bidding on the foreclosed property as possible, because any amount over and above the notes owed goes to the former homeowner to help them get back on their feet.
America may be headed for a recession and this will prove more essential than ever if there is a contraction of our economy and people suffer job losses. Some houses in Denver are already upside down on their mortgages, having purchased a home at the absolute peak.
All of this is to say we think López has a great vision for this state and has already done a good job administering a crucial department in the city.