#TBT: It’s the last day of #NationalHispanicHeritageMonth, and to celebrate, we’re sharing a special record from our archives: the 1983 official Mayoral Oath of Federico Peña, Denver’s first #Latino mayor.
Peña was born in Laredo, Texas, and moved to Denver in 1973. He worked as a civil rights lawyer for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund. His civil service career began in 1979, when he was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives, where he became House Minority leader and championed legislation expanding access to bilingual education.
Peña ran for mayor in 1983, and was considered a long shot to beat incumbent Bill McNichols, who had held the seat since 1969. In an upset, Peña won in a runoff against Dale Tooley, the city’s former district attorney.
Although Peña’s two terms as mayor included high-profile projects, like the Central Library, Denver International Airport, and bringing Colorado’s first Major League Baseball team to Denver, his administration also left a legacy of historical preservation. Under Peña, the city passed laws to preserve landmarks like the Mayan Theater and the Lower Downtown Historic District.
Declining a third mayoral run in 1992, Peña was tapped by President Bill Clinton to serve as Secretary of Transportation, a position he held for four years. He became Secretary of Energy in 1996 and oversaw energy policy during the second Clinton term.
Today, Peña is still active as a local civic leader in Denver. In fact, he was recently tapped by Governor Polis to chair the Governor’s Council on Economic Stabilization and Growth, a task force focused on Colorado’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
For more on Peña’s life and commitment to the advancement of the Latino community, visit https://www.historycolorado.org/…/federico-pena-his-own-wor…
For more historical records, visit www.denverclerkandrecorder.org