By Eric Heinz
Two people recently filed for candidacy in City Council District 1 to challenge Amanda P. Sandoval in the April 4 municipal election.
The new candidates are Ava Truckey, who owns Offbeat Market and Butter Moon Bakery, and Micaela Iron Shell-Dominguez, an environmental and Indigenous rights organizer who co-founded the 5280 chapter of the International Indigenous Youth Council and who is also the director of Womxn of the Mountain environmental nonprofit.
Iron Shell-Dominguez said she started her campaign because she doesn’t believe current leaders in Denver are listening to the concerns of their constituents.
“The main thing is listening to the people and (addressing) the changes that are needed within our community, as it’s been growing very fast,” Iron Shell-Dominguez said. “Instead of listening to the people that have been here for generations, we’re allowing them to be kicked out and allow new people to come in and take over their land and their community.”
Iron Shell-Dominguez said she has lived at her current Regis neighborhood residence for two years, but she has spent the majority of her life living in the area. She said housing prices forced her to move away for a while before returning to the place she considers home. If elected to council, she said she would try to set policies to help homeowners and renters who have established long-term roots in the area to stay in their homes. One way could be to lower property taxes, she said.
“Being a Native American, I’ve always been raised to be a caretaker of our land,” Iron Shell-Dominguez said. “I’ve always had concerns since a very young age about our environment. Unfortunately, many of our political leaders that we have today are unable to take on the environmental crisis that we have on our hands. I know that at a local level, we can have the impact, but in a small way I believe as a city, we can be an example for the rest of the country.”
Truckey had similar criticisms of City Council, describing the actions of the governing body as trying to “scoop water out of a sinking boat.” She said she wants to make city government more accessible to people.
“What I have witnessed, as somebody from Denver, are a lot of Band-Aids,” she said. “Being a single mother, I think that it’s important that folks have the opportunity to see somebody like me that is very working- class … tackling things instead of kind of turning a blind eye to things that actually matter the most.”
The first major issue Truckey said she would address is housing, particularly protecting those who are already here. She said there have been some housing policies that have been passed by the city that “meant well,” but new development continues to push people out.
“We’re just further gentrifying the Northside instead of allowing folks to be able to keep the houses that they grew up in and raised their families in,” Truckey said, adding she would like to establish a program to help renters become homeowners.
As a business owner, Truckey said she would like to improve micro-loan assistance and other means to help businesses get started and maintain their clientele.
“I think that it’s important that people find a sense of relatability in the people that they see in public office. I’m like other people. I’m like my neighbors and my friends,” Truckey said. “When you own a business, there’s a certain level of tenacity and putting yourself out there, working hard not just for yourself and your family but for your community, and that’s really what I built both of my businesses on, community and how I can serve them best.”
Truckey said she has also lived at her current North Denver address for two years, but also has spent the majority of her life in the district.
Sandoval, who up until early December was running unopposed, said she should be reelected because she’s been making headway on policies and initiatives that community members said they needed or wanted.
“I still have to just continue to do the people’s work,” she said. “They elected me to do their work. All of these initiatives that I’m working on that I’ve done over the last three and a half years are all people-powered. They are ideas of the people.”
Sandoval said she is working on a conservation overlay for Sunnyside that would restrict the design policies of more than 3,500 residences. She is also overseeing the overhaul of the Board of Adjustment for Zoning, which oversees various design appeals, and she has been working to rezone most of her district to allow the construction of accessory dwelling units.
Sandoval said she’s worked to update language in the city’s code that was “based in racism and not equity,” and she’s hosted myriad public meetings and office hours in order to accommodate residents who have concerns or ideas.
“One thing that I do know I have with my community is I do have trust,” Sandoval said. “We may not all always agree, but we can respectfully disagree, so I think it’s going to be interesting to have this kind of conversation in a really short timeframe.”
Sandoval said regarding the election, she had not heard from Iron Shell-Dominguez nor Truckey regarding their campaigns prior to them filing for their candidacies.
“I’m just being called upon by the residents of Northwest Denver, and they’ve helped me set the agenda,” she said. “I think it will be interesting to see what these two women have to say and what they can provide.”
According to records from the Denver City Clerk and Recorder’s Office, Sandoval has about $61,000 in campaign finance but has only spent about $1,325 of that on her 2023 campaign.
As new candidates, neither Truckey nor Iron Shell-Dominguez have filed campaign finance reports yet. All candidates have signaled they plan to use the city’s Fair Elections Fund, which essentially means candidates agree to accept lower campaign contribution limits and only smaller donations.
The fund then provides those candidates with matching contributions of nine times the amount of each small-dollar donation they collect, according to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office.
Editor’s note: Micaela Iron Shell-Dominguez filed to use the city’s Fair Elections Fund after The Denver North Star’s December edition went to print.