Denver mayoral candidates Kelly Brough (left) and Michael Johnston (right) at forum co-hosted by CU Denver.

Denver Mayoral Candidates Answer Student Questions at CU Denver

May 1, 2023

Located in the heart of Colorado’s capital city, CU Denver’s campus is home to critical conversations about civics, policy, and the future of our community. The university and its School of Public Affairs (SPA), which turned 50 this year along with the university, regularly host conversations with global reach and local impact.  

On Monday, April 24, CU Denver was home to another important discussion. The university and SPA partnered with the Denver Foundation, the Open Media Foundation, and CBS4 to co-host a forum with Kelly Brough (MBA ’89) and Michael Johnston, the two run-off candidates in the city of Denver’s mayoral election.  

Both candidates were top vote getters on April 4, but neither received 50 percent of the vote, which triggered a run-off election between them, to be held on June 6. The winner of that election will succeed current Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, a CU Denver SPA graduate, who has served 12 years in that role and is term limited.  

Chancellor Michelle Marks opened the forum event with remarks that reflected on CU Denver’s 50th anniversary and how the university’s nearly 120,000 alumni have helped shape and lead the city. She noted that CU Denver’s faculty, staff, and students will continue to influence Denver’s success. “Higher education are the places where big ideas begin, and where they’re debated, and tested,” Marks said. “And they help us chart the right path forward together. We’ll see some of these principles discussed on this stage tonight.”  

Shaun Boyd and Michelle Griego from CBS4 moderated a robust discussion with the candidates on topics that included housing, affordability, safety, and education. And—in a unique, real-life civics lesson—CU Denver students asked the candidates questions that reflected their experiences.  

CU Denver Chancellor Michelle Marks (second from the left) with CU Denver students Bria Combs, Sean Burns, Savannah Brooks, and Mitchell Mauro (left to right). 

Savannah Brooks, the Student Government Association (SGA) vice-president elect for the 2023–24 academic year and a political science major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), spoke about the importance of the RTD public transportation system for the campus and asked: “How will you work to support and enhance the RTD transportation system to make a more reliable system for our CU Denver constituents?” 

CU Denver student and Student Government Association president-elect Bria Combs.

Bria Combs, the SGA’s president-elect for the 2023–24 academic year and a biology student in CLAS, spoke about the campus’ history and asked about the future: “How do you both think about working, and how do you anticipate working with, CU Denver and our other Auraria campus constituents to enhance student learning, student development opportunities, and community partnerships?” 

Sean Burns, a SGA senator and a student majoring in SPA’s criminal justice program, spoke about engaging young voters: “Frankly, why should Auraria students vote for you and what meaningful change can you bring in policy and law to satisfy your young constituency?”  

This event gave each of the students a moment—an opportunity—to engage civic leaders in conversations that are crucial to Denver’s future. All while showcasing the rigorous academic discussions that CU Denver’s community engages in each day.                                              

You can watch the complete forum here