Jamie Giellis says she started hearing from individuals considering a run for Denver mayor in late 2021.
They wanted a conversation, and maybe down the road an endorsement, because she’d been there. Giellis sought the office in 2019, making it to a runoff election against the incumbent Michael Hancock before falling short with 44 percent of the vote.
Giellis, a consultant focused on community development who considered running again before opting against it, told BusinessDen she met with everyone who asked. She already knew many of them.
“I know at least half the field personally,” she said last week. “Maybe more.”
But with the municipal election now two months away — although another two-person June runoff is likely — Giellis has made her choice. She thinks Kwame Spearman, co-owner of the Tattered Cover bookstore chain, should be the next to lead the city.
She said he likes the way Spearman approaches problem-solving.
“He likes to listen and he likes to bring the best ideas from a lot of perspectives to the table,” she said.
Giellis said some other candidates, whom she didn’t specify, clearly have had aspirations for the office for a while, and “I don’t want somebody in there just because they want it.”
“I saw myself reflected in him,” she said. “For him, this isn’t about status.”
Spearman, 39, and David Back purchased Tattered Cover in late 2020 with the backing of investors including Rockies co-owner Dick Monfort. Spearman became CEO, although he’s on leave while he runs for office, leaving day-to-day decisions in the hands of Chief Financial Officer Margie Keenan.
Spearman didn’t file notice of his intent to run until January, months after other prominent candidates. A couple years ago, he said, he encouraged Giellis to run for mayor again this cycle.
“More than the endorsement, the bigger area of support from her has been mentorship,” he said of Giellis.
Spearman’s campaign website says he will be a “neighborhood mayor.” He said he believes that, if the city continues on its current path, companies like Tattered Cover and its employees “aren’t going to be able to call Denver home.”
Giellis, who previously served as president of the RiNo Art District through her consulting firm, said she had to rebuild her business a bit after losing the mayoral race.
“I have a really rewarding career helping cities all around the country,” she said.
Yes, Giellis said, she sometimes wonders how things might’ve turned out if she hadn’t, say, stumbled over the meaning of the initialism NAACP. But then she moves on.
“It was so intense, and so intensely public,” Giellis said of running for office. “And so yeah, you rethink everything you went through. And you also step back and realize, I’m only human.”