Denver, CO

Opinion: The next Denver mayor may wear combat boots, but ...

David Heitz
Photo byFilip Andrejevic/Unsplash

The next mayor of Denver may wear combat boots.

And that’s because people see Andy Rougeot as a warrior in the battle to reclaim Denver’s streets from crime and homeless encampments. Rougeot has a great resume: Veteran, business owner, family man.


As a journalist I’ve never made a prediction in a mayor’s race. But I want to predict Andy Rougeot wins the Denver mayor’s election.

He seems like the perfect solution to what Denverites say they want – someone tough on crime who also shows compassion for those living on the streets.

“We have to help these people help themselves,” Rougeot says in a sound bite on his website.

Wait. “These people?” Wow. Maybe he’s not so compassionate after all. And does he really even have a plan to end homelessness?

Boots but no plan

Rougeot doesn’t say how he will make homelessness out of sight, out of mind. He has vowed in his boot-wearing commercials to enforce the camping ban. We already know enforcing the camping ban does nothing to lessen the mess on our streets that is homelessness.

Under “homelessness” on his website Rougeot posts a video where he describes a man urinating with his pants down to his ankles at the park. He describes having to take his heartbroken daughter back inside the house to avoid the sight.

Rougeot boasts in the video that he’ll end universal basic income for homeless people and safe injection sites. But safe injection sites don’t even exist and cannot exist without a change to state law. As for universal basic income, that’s being provided to some Denver people experiencing homelessness through a philanthropic effort. The City and County of Denver chipped in $2 million for the project earmarked for 140 women, transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Ending basic income project mean spirited

I see nothing but cruel motives if Rougeot wants to end basic income for some people experiencing homelessness. Why would anyone want to take what little income a homeless person may have away from them? Oh yes, the drugs. Rougeot mentions in his video that he’ll get homeless people the help they need with, “mental health or drug addiction services.”

News flash: Not all homeless people are on drugs or mentally ill.

Talks the talk

When it comes to Rougeot’ s footwear, his boots are made for talkin’. But he doesn’t appear to have a plan for getting homeless people off the street. The sweeps just move them around. How about an innovative jobs plan to get people experiencing homelessness working again? That’s what I would expect from a conservative candidate, the only Republican candidate.

I’m not sure how people think the encampments will disappear from the streets without a lot of people being housed. In a debate earlier this month hosted by advocates of people experiencing homelessness, the crowds booed Rougeot.

I can’t say that I blame them.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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