Denver Cabinet Members Begin Leaving Limited Time Mayor Michael Hancock


In May, Kim Day announced that she was stepping down from her thirteen-year tenure as CEO of Denver Intl Airport and retire. Ten days later, Eulois Cleckley, head of the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI), tendered their resignation; he had taken on a new post by directing the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works.

In September, Eric Hiraga, the boss of Denver Economic Development Office, announced that he would be stepping down. Two months later, Ashley Kilroy, Executive Director of Excises and licenses, said she would be leaving in January.

Last week, Murphy Robinson, executive director of Public security, revealed that he too will be leaving in January. And on December 17, Don Mares, the head of social services, announced that he would be leaving to take on the role of CEO of Colorado Trust.

Although political appointments come and go, the recent acceleration in resignations of Mayor Michael HancockHancock’s cabinet is a sure sign that Hancock, with a limited tenure, is entering his final eighteen months as mayor.

“At the end of a term, you lose people who are worried about their future and who don’t want to wait until the last minute to make changes. In that sense, it can be a challenge ”, explains Alan Salazar, head of Hancock. Staff. “Very few people in this field are wealthy enough not to think about their next job.”

Some of those who have resigned admit that the impending end of Hancock’s tenure at town hall played into their decision.

Click to enlarge Murphy Robinson is stepping down as executive director of the Department of Public Safety.  - CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER

Murphy Robinson is stepping down as executive director of the Department of Public Safety.

City and County of Denver

“There were many factors that influenced director Robinson’s decision to leave, and that was one of the considerations,” said Kelly Jacobs, spokesperson for Public Safety, which Robinson has led for only two years.

On the flip side, Kilroy says she always thought she would be with the city during the transition to a new mayor and that she is “sad to be leaving.” But she’s going now because she and her husband want to take a year off and spend some time catching up with their three daughters, who all live abroad; after this year, Kilroy will return to Denver. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Mayor Hancock,” she adds. “He has built such an amazing team, and I know they and the mayor will have a very exciting and busy last few years. I hate to miss it!”

According to Salazar, who was on the staff of Senator Tim Wirth, Senator Gary Hart and Governor Roy Romer until the end of their term, some of the resignations that occur in the final years of a politician’s tenure may have money. .

“We lost Kim Day, but we won Phil Washington, and I think Phil, in that sense you have a great leader who is very respected and just as great as Kim was,” Salazar said, referring to to the new CEO of Denver Intl Airport. “DOTI too – I think Adam Phipps is phenomenal and just as good as his predecessor, and in some ways better,” he adds. “These are people I would expect the next administration to perhaps keep.”

Britta Fisher, executive director of the Department of Housing Stability, is certainly set to stay for the next mayor, who takes office in July 2023. “I intend to serve to the pleasure of Mayor Hancock as long as I can, ” she says. “I really enjoy supporting this growing team of the Department of Housing Stability and leading complex and priority issues for our community.

The appointment of Phipps as head of DOTI is still subject to Denver City Council approval due to a voting measure passed in 2020 that gives the board oversight power over the hiring of most department heads. But even if a new mayor appointed a different person to take on the post of executive director of DOTI, notes Salazar, Phipps would likely still be able to stay with the city, since he held a post of deputy city engineer, a job with Career Service protections.

This fall, Hancock also ensured that Scott Gilmore and John Martinez, two deputy directors of parks and recreation, were reclassified as employees of the Career Department rather than appointed, as the current director of parks and recreation, Happy Haynes. This move has given them significant pay increases and increased job security, as they will be able to weather a change in the mayor’s administration without fear of being made redundant.

“They ran things and were basically deputy directors,” says Salazar. “Scott and John were unique in that they were appointees who ended up at an organizational disadvantage because they were appointees.”

Advisor Candi Cde Baca, a frequent critic of the Hancock administration, believes there is a “leadership vacuum” with “these agency heads now gone.” As a result, she says, “it’s chaos trying to get the services they need.”

CdeBaca adds: “I feel like we’ve been seeing the effects for a while now, and it’s only getting worse, especially with the secrecy. They are trying to cover up the fact that there is a leadership vacuum. ”

But Salazar rejects the idea that Hancock’s status as a lame duck has affected the way the city is run. “You don’t want to send a message to anyone on the team that it’s time to just skate,” says Salazar. “If you know anything about our government, you know there are term limits.”

As for his own status, Salazar says he plans to stay until the end of Hancock’s last term. And what is there after that? Salazar replies: “I’m going to be an intern for Patty Calhoun.”


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