Name: Jessica Campbell-Swanson
Profession: Attorney and political consultant, chief of staff to Rep. Iman Jodeh, HD41
Biography: I am a mom, former ESL teacher at UC Denver, attorney, and community advocate with a master's in comparative politics. I’ve raised my stepkids here in Arapahoe County with my husband Nick, and we’ve loved being part of the LPS community. I’ve protected our elections and the environment, helped reform health care and housing as chief of staff to Rep. Iman Jodeh (HD41), and worked on campaigns and policy from the city to national level. I know how government works and I want to use that knowledge and experience to make Arapahoe a healthy, thriving, and sustainable community for all.
What are your takeaways from the county’s shift toward voting Democratic in recent elections?
My takeaway is that Democrats — by and large — have prioritized making government work for the people of Arapahoe County and have better addressed the challenges we’re facing. From addressing our housing affordability crisis and protecting renters to reforming health care, protecting our reproductive rights, reforming our gun laws and keeping us safe, mobilizing resources for mental and behavioral health, protecting our environment, and protecting our democracy — it’s been Democrats from Arapahoe County leading the way. It’s been an honor to help elect some of those leaders, partner with them, and help pass some of those policies in the legislature.
How will you support the county’s new health department set to be operational Jan. 1?
Since the incoming board of commissioners will be responsible for appointing the permanent board of public health, the first thing we can do to support our new health department is set it up for success by appointing public health experts dedicated to data-driven, science-based, equity-focused policy with administrative experience, a history of getting results, and a broad, intersectional and/or multidisciplinary perspective. After that, I will be as engaged as I can to ensure our new health department has the funding and structure needed to ensure a smooth, equitable, and reliable delivery of services.
What are your priorities for spending funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and bipartisan infrastructure law in Arapahoe County?
ARPA funds: We need to continue responding to pain points and helping our most vulnerable populations. The ending of eviction moratoriums have left many housing-insecure as housing costs continue to rise. We need to continue to fund emergency rental assistance to keep people housed and prevent homelessness from increasing. We also need to continue supporting our small businesses and increasing mental health resources. For infrastructure: Catch up on deferred maintenance where possible, reduce carbon emissions by increasing climate-friendly infrastructure like charging stations for EVs and increasing infrastructure to make Arapahoe more bikeable, walkable, and accessible via public transportation.
What would you do regarding housing, development and growth in Arapahoe County?
We must be proactive and intentional about how we manage our growth as we are expected to grow from 650k people in Arapahoe now to 875k by 2040. We must increase our housing options and ensure they are affordable across all income brackets and ages. And we must do this in a way that increases bikeability, walkability, and access to public transportation or traffic will become untenable. In so doing, we can also reduce further harm to our environment by reducing water usage and carbon emissions as we set up healthy communities with close access to grocers, parks, and schools.
Affordable housing is a problem across the entire Denver metro area. What can be done at the county level to address the issues?
- In unincorporated Arapahoe, where we have zoning jurisdiction, we can work with nonprofits and developers to ensure new developments include housing options affordable across all income levels.
2. In unincorporated Arapahoe, we can loosen zoning restrictions on accessory dwelling units and other land use restrictions.
3. We can incentivize sellers to sell their homes to individual buyers.
4. We can work with our municipal partners to support programs increasing housing stock with options affordable across all income levels.
5. We can connect with developers about getting creative about repurposing empty buildings.
What efforts would you support to address homelessness in Arapahoe County?
I support efforts that (a) prevent folks from entering homelessness through rental assistance, eviction assistance, increasing housing options affordable across income brackets, workforce development, and supporting higher wages; (b) get people out of homelessness by getting our unhoused neighbors access to housing to stabilize, health care to heal, and workforce development to obtain employment; (c) keep our parks and neighborhoods clear of health hazards; and (d) get governing bodies out of silos and working together like the Countywide Homelessness Coordinating Committee, launched this year, and the $50 million grant for local governments to create a metro Denver homelessness navigation campus.