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Politics and Government

“There’s a sense of being unsettled”: Former state lawmaker Penfield Tate will run for Denver mayor in 2019

Tate joins a growing list of candidates vying to unseat Denver Mayor Michael Hancock next year

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Former Democratic state Sen. Penfield Tate says he will run in 2019 to become Denver’s next mayor, raising questions about allegations of sexual harassment leveled against Michael Hancock as he makes a bid for the two-term mayor’s seat.

Tate says he is also more broadly concerned about the city’s future under Hancock’s leadership.

“I think the biggest issue that I feel, and that I hear, is there’s a sense of being unsettled,” he told CBS4, The Colorado Sun’s political reporting partner, in an interview announcing his candidacy. “We’ve reached a point where we’ve had tremendous growth. Growth is good, but you have got have a plan for growth and you have to manage it. I and people around the city don’t feel we’ve planned for it or managed it well.”

Tate added: “Over time I’ve been concerned about the direction of the city.”

Tate, who says he has been mulling the decision to run for a while, served in the state’s Senate and House about two decades ago. He has worked in other public capacities, including for former Denver Mayor Federico Peña where he was an adviser on economic issues.

Tate is spending at least $12,000 on a television ad buy right out of the gate, according to Federal Communications Commissions filings from Monday morning. The first ads are scheduled to air during the Monday Night Football game between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs

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Tate joins a growing list of challengers to Hancock’s reign in the city. The others hoping to challenge Hancock include cannabis entrepreneur and activist Kayvan Khalatbari, and disability rights activist Kalyn Heffernan.

Hancock faced accusations of sexual harassment earlier this year related text messages he sent to a member of his Denver police security detail in 2012. Hancock apologized for the messages but said he doesn’t think they rose to the level of sexual harassment.

Tate also said he’s heard concerns around the city that Denver City Council didn’t do enough to address the allegations against Hancock.

“I think a lot of people think they just dropped the ball and punted,” Tate told CBS4. “I think they should have investigated.”

Colorado Sun contributor Sandra Fish contributed to this report.