Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock visited Metropolitan State University of Denver on Monday for a Fireside chat with President Janine Davidson, Ph.D. Hancock also reflected on his short stint as a lecturer at MSU Denver while he was serving on the Denver City Council.

Hancock opened the chat by explaining that his original inspiration for running for mayor of Denver was because of Denver’s first Hispanic mayor Fredrico Peña. His original goal was to be the first Black mayor of Denver, but Wellington Webb beat him to the punch.  

Fentanyl epidemic

Hancock also discussed the recent behavior health challenges in Denver and the rise of the fentanyl epidemic in Colorado.  

“Fentanyl is like no drug we’ve ever seen before,” Hancock said. “There is no amount of fentanyl that anyone should be possessing outside of a prescription from their doctor.”  

Colorado recently passed a bill for harsher penalties among fentanyl distributors, something Hancock stands behind.  

“We don’t want to go back to the war on drugs,” Hancock said. “But we cannot sit back and allow for possession of fentanyl, particularly enough to kill 2,000 people, to end up on our streets and think it’s okay.” 

Another recent issue facing Denver and MSU Denver students and employees is housing affordability. After hosting the Democratic National Convention in 2008, Hancock said Denver became the No. 1 tourist destination in the world. Once people discovered Denver, they came flooding in. Hancock said that the city has done almost all it can do to make housing more affordable through zoning, fees and incentives, but the problem won’t be going away anytime soon until supply meets the overwhelming demand.  

Hancock also noted the important role that major cities play. Cities are responsible for safety, transportation systems, jobs, education and parks.

“Cities represent over 92% of the gross domestic product in this nation. If the city goes, the nation goes. If cities don’t recover, the nation doesn’t recover.”  

Hancock recognizes the importance of higher education in a major city such as Denver. He believes great cities are tied to higher educational institutions and wants to continue to try to find opportunities to better capitalize on what MSU Denver brings to the city.

“This campus is phenomenal, unique and dynamic in the life of our city,” Hancock said. “This is an economic gem, it’s a cultural gem, and quite frankly the future of our entire city.”

Lastly, Hancock, an avid Broncos fan, said he hopes the sale of the Denver Broncos happens soon and brings in an owner who is present, but knows how to leave the day-to-day management to the team. He recently met newly acquired quarterback Russell Wilson and says that he’s happy Denver finally “has a franchise quarterback.” 

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