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News brief with the Colorado Sun: Denver's mayoral election and the start of wildfire season

 Jefferson County Open Space rangers practice personal shelter procedures as an instructor uses a leaf blower to simulate the sound of a wildfire during a fire training session on March 9 at the Lookout Mountain Nature Center in Golden.
Olivia Sun
/
The Colorado Sun via Report for America.
Jefferson County Open Space rangers practice personal shelter procedures as an instructor, left, uses a leaf blower to simulate the sound of a wildfire during a fire training session on March 9 at the Lookout Mountain Nature Center in Golden. Fire shelters are portable structures that firefighters carry and use to protect themselves against extreme heat and smoke.

Each week, we talk with our colleagues at The Colorado Sun about the stories they're following. This time, we hear from Sun editor Larry Ryckman about the Denver mayoral race and the start of Colorado's wildfire season.

Tuesday, April 4, is the day for Denverites to cast their votes for mayor. Polls close at 7:00 p.m.

"There are 16 candidates," Ryckman told KUNC. "There's very limited polling in this race and voter turnout is not expected to be great."

Former state Senator Mike Johnston ran for governor in 2018 and for U.S. Senate in 2020, losing both races. Johnston and Kelly Brough have had large presences with TV advertisements.

"State Representative Leslie Herod and Chris Hansen are both Democratic rising stars," Ryckman added, "so it's kind of anybody's race to win.”

Andy Rougeot is the lone Republican in the race and largely self-funded his campaign.

If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to a June 6th runoff.

In another story, more than 120 personnel are on site working to contain the 403 fire that started last week west of Colorado Springs. The state's wildfire season is underway and officials are trying to improve safety for Coloradans.

"They're expanding homegrown hotshot crews. They're adding remote cameras monitored by artificial intelligence to spot flare ups. They're also locking down private helicopter time to be ready for emergencies," Ryckman told KUNC. "There almost is no wildfire season in Colorado anymore. It just feels like it's year-round anymore because of the drought conditions."

This winter's snowpack has been significant, but that's not expected to help much with drought and fire conditions.

"As we've seen just here in the past week... you've got a few dry days, the wind whipping, and a wildfire can emerge from seemingly nowhere," Ryckman said.

As a reporter and Morning Edition host for KUNC, I follow the local stories of the day while also guiding KUNC listeners through NPR's wider-scope coverage. It's an honor and a privilege to help our audience start their day informed and entertained.