After two terms as city councilwoman at-large, Robin Kniech has a pretty impressive resume under her belt. As Denver’s first out LGBTQ councilwoman, she has worked to create gender-neutral restroom options, outlaw conversion therapy in Denver, and support the income non-discrimination act and trans inclusion in homeless shelters. As far as broader policy goes, she has supported the Climate Action Plan and worked toward public safety and affordable housing.
For some, this would be enough, but not for Kniech. If reelected, she plans to work to make low-income services more inclusive and help trans folks overcome employement barriers.
We spoke to her about her campaign for reelection and her hopes for the coming election cycle.
Why did you decide to run for reelection?
I feel very proud of having passed dozens of policies that are affecting of people’s lives. Whether it’s policies or programs that I started, like helping to get people into homes, or when it comes to evictions, giving families more time to move out or to keep their records from having an eviction on them, I’ve done a lot of things to help reduce the impacts of the housing crisis, and I’d like to do even more. These are things that have a major impact on people’s lives. I’m just so proud of that impact. I am running to build on these accomplishments and impact people even more people.
What accomplishments are you the most proud of so far?
The Affordable Housing Fund, and the way we turned a brownfield into an open space in a low-income neighborhood. Housing is probably my biggest legacy. But I’m also really proud of the minimum wage raise we just passed to $15 an hour for people who work with the city or for our contractors.
What would you like to accomplish if you’re reelected?
In the same way that I worked to create sustainable funding for affordable housing, I would really like to be a part of creating sustainable funding for Denver’s long-term transportation needs. Our city can’t keep up with growth and ensure that it has a conscience unless we have transit that is more efficient, faster, and supports people. We want to be sure that we have busses running north to south, east to west, every 10 minutes.
With a bus system like that, we can have more people on buses, and I want to make sure that there aren’t gaps in our sidewalk systems, that our bike lanes are safe, and our streets are safer. I’d love to be able to help lead the sustainable funding for that vision of the transportation realm. And I also think that I can grow on my housing accomplishments; we really have a lot more I think we want to try to do.
Sometimes state legislation can be a barrier, but I am hopeful that they’re going to give us a little more opportunity on this session on things like raising the minimum wage for all Denver workers and being able to require developers to build affordable rental in market rate projects.
I also have another dream, which is called participatory budgeting. It’s where you turn over a portion of the city’s budget to a community for small-scale projects, maybe a mural, or some kind of improvement. It might be a playground or a soccer field improvement in a park, whatever the most important investments are for this community. You have folks develop ideas and vote on them. I’ve been working on it for a couple years, but I haven’t been able to get it done yet. But I think this is something that we as a city should be doing to help ensure that people feel like they have a voice in the change that’s happening around them, especially when it’s their dollars.
What will you do to continue to support LGBTQ people if you get reelected?
This year, we have the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, and in the past, I’ve worked with the city’s LGBTQ commission to make sure that folks understand the history of LGBTQ rights and how engaging the city government helps to create and build that change.
I think we have more work to do on making our services, especially for the lowest income and homeless, more inclusive to the LGBTQ community. That continues to be an area that needs more work.
I know that many of our trans residents face barriers to getting jobs, and a number of our elders have challenges with the housing in our city. They experienced the same challenges that other communities do but with an added layer, so we need to provide them support.
I will continue to listen to the community and make them my partners shaping that agenda and helping to accomplish it.
Photo courtesy of Robin Kniech