State Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez at the Capitol on Feb. 8, 2023 in Denver. Photo: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
State Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez will soon trade the statehouse for city hall.
Driving the news: Gonzales-Gutierrez last week won one of two at-large seats on the Denver City Council.
- Her victory margin netted her more than 20% support in a nine-candidate field.
- She credited the results, which exceeded her expectations, to strong voter outreach.
Why it matters: Her win cements her — the granddaughter of local Chicano Movement icon Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales — as a rising figure in the Democratic Party in Colorado.
What’s happening: Gonzales-Gutierrez, who grew up in North Denver, is crafting her own legacy, casting her political shadow alongside her grandfather’s towering presence in Denver — where he advocated for labor rights, combated structural racism, and encouraged Chicano cultural identity.
Flashback: When she first ran for the General Assembly in 2018, Gonzales-Gutierrez said she was hesitant to evoke her grandfather’s name.
- Past threats against her family from people who didn’t agree with his views made her hesitant to bring up his name during her run for state office.
- This election was different: She tells us she leaned in more to her family’s name and said when his name did come up, it was positive.
What they’re saying: “I’m so proud to be part of that legacy, but I feel like I’ve worked really hard to establish myself,” Gonzales-Gutierrez tells us.
- Addressing the root causes of the city’s housing crisis and public safety will be her top priorities on the council.
The intrigue: She says she’s comfortable being called a progressive, in contrast to the more centrist Democrats on the council.
Zoom in: Gonzales-Gutierrez was endorsed by the Working Families Party, a political party focused on enacting policies that help working-class people.
- The group endorsed seven city council candidates, including Sarah Parady, who won the other at-large seat, and council president Jamie Torres, who ran unopposed.
- Torres, who helped set up a vaccine clinic with Gonzales-Gutierrez and other Latina elected officials in 2021, tells us she’s “thrilled” to see Gonzales-Gutierrez on the council.
What we’re hearing: Denver Democrats secretary Adrian L. Felix said Gonzales-Gutierrez was “the obvious choice,” for many people, noting that being an elected official gave her an advantage.
- “We have seen her represent Denver’s best values,” Felix said.
Between the lines: She has already worked closely with council members including Parady, whom she worked with on an equal pay law passed in 2019, and with council member Candi CdeBaca on a state law adding regulations to toxic air contaminants.