On May 5, 2015, the city of Denver will hold elections to fill the open City Council seats. The 13 members of the Denver City Council are responsible for making laws and budgeting city money, while also maintaining integrity of city agencies and employees. For these reasons, it is extremely important to elect candidates who are well-rounded, trustworthy and reliable because the future of Denver is literally in their collaborative hands.
There are only 2 at-large seats up for grabs in May. In an effort to help Denver voters make an educated decision on election day, the Whaxy staff reached out to candidate at-large, Kayvan Khalatbari, to find out exactly where he stands on the important issues, and how he plans to make a difference for Denver.
Mr. Khalatbari was kind enough to answer all of our questions, and admittedly, he was every bit as impressive in person as he sounds in his responses below.
Who is Kayvan Khalatbari?
I am an entrepreneur and philanthropist who employs over 100 people here in Denver through seven local businesses, including the oldest dispensary in Denver. I began my cannabis advocacy here in Colorado over 10 years ago and have grown that through my consulting business, Denver Relief Consulting, which just won the top three application scores for operations in Illinois, along with the top score in Nevada. Add in my long-term philanthropic work with Denver Kids, the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Denver Relief GREEN TEAM and I’m just a guy that has always wished to change the perception of cannabis by being the most positive force I can be.
What qualifies you most for this position?
Probably the fact that I have more business experience than all 13 City Council members and our Mayor COMBINED. It’s a mind-blowing fact. With a city that is growing as rapidly as Denver, we need that business perspective to avoid fiscal mismanagement, which we are seeing a lot of these days. I am an outspoken person that has a history of making tough decisions, even when they aren’t easy ones. I’m a tireless worker fighting for what is right, even if it’s not the most popular.
You’re a very busy man, why city council?
I’ve been successful in pushing the positive cannabis agenda as an activist, as a small business operator and as a consultant. I see this as the next evolution of that career and ultimately want to see others in the cannabis industry see politics as an opportunity as well. We have so many intelligent, determined and unique thinkers in the cannabis space, I’d really like to see them help shaping our society at large, not just with regard to cannabis. I would be the first elected official in a major city to also own a cannabis business, which would do wonders for the image of the industry. We have come a long way in cannabis, but there is a lot more to do here in Denver, in Colorado and nationally until cannabis and its users have the rights they deserve.
What are the biggest issues facing the city of Denver?
The affordable housing crisis is the largest issue at hand and is creating a myriad of other issues in its wake, including public transportation deficiencies and and escalation in homelessness. Our current City Council considers the 700 affordable units they helped create last year as being a victory, when we have 27,000 households being pushed from Denver because they can’t afford to live here any longer. We need to think bigger and differently if we’re going to to truly tackle this problem, and our current Council simply doesn’t have the life or business experiences to do so. I’d say our biggest issue is the lack of vision and competence within our leadership and that needs to change before these issues get even more out of control.
How will you fight for cannabis?
By giving us a voice to start. Right now we have a entire City Council and our Mayor unwilling to even discuss the issues that face this industry from plant counts on a caregiver level to operating hours, marketing rights and public consumption in the regulated market. Amendment 64 was supposed to place alcohol and cannabis on a level playing field and it has been anything but here in Denver. This industry has done too much good for this city and this state not to have its voice heard.
What are the city’s biggest opportunities?
I truly believe hemp will be an industry 100x the size of the medical or social use cannabis industries and we can develop that epicenter here in Denver just as we have for cannabis. With the almost unlimited potential of hemp in just about every facet of life, we have the opportunity to build a truly local economy just by ushering in hemp processing facilities around Denver, which will result in increased production by our hemp farmers. We’re talking tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic development in agriculture, manufacturing and retail all while becoming less reliant on political and market forces around the country and world. This money and local economy creation will help alleviate so many other issues we are currently dealing with and we owe it to our residents to fully realize that.