Law student joins city hall

The University of Denver community walks the halls of power across the country, from DU alumna and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to U.S. Senators Pete Domenici (N.M.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.) and speaker of the Colorado State House and DU law student Andrew Romanoff.

Extend that reach a little bit further: DU Sturm College of Law student Joe Jefferson recently upended a long-time incumbent to take a seat on the Englewood City Council.

Jefferson, 28, a lifelong Englewood, Colo., resident and a third-year law student, says he had been thinking about getting more involved in his community for a few years. His mother, Shiou, has owned the Twin Dragon Chinese Restaurant in Englewood for more than 30 years where Jefferson says he’s met many of the city’s residents.

After serving on an Englewood beautification board and paying closer attention to the city finances, he says the city’s deficit struck him as a critical issue. 

Jefferson had a tough challenge up against an incumbent. He set a goal of knocking on every door in the district of nearly 9,000. 

“That’s the advantage of being in a small community. It’s the opportunity to get involved, to make a difference that you might not get in a bigger city,” he says. “At first, it was a little intimidating, knocking on strangers’ doors. But it was fun getting to know people.” 

Jefferson’s campaign, built on a platform of fiscal responsibility and dedication to service, struck a chord. The local newspaper, the Englewood Herald, endorsed him over the experienced candidate. 

He won on Election Day in November with nearly 70 percent of the vote. 

Englewood Mayor Jim Woodward says he’s looking forward to working with Jefferson.

“I’m very optimistic. He’s asking the right questions. It’ll be refreshing to have his perspective,” Woodward says.

Taking a full complement of classes while fielding calls from residents and preparing for city meetings is a lot of work, Woodward says.

“As a third-year law student who ran a campaign while in school and working, it’s quite an accomplishment,” Woodward notes. “But he will come away from this experience having learned a whole lot.”

[Editor’s note: In an earlier version of the story, Shiou’s name was misspelled and we mistakenly reported that Jefferson’s goal was to knock on every door in the city. We regret the errors.]

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