Citizens vote to keep the Stapleton name

What’s in a name? A lot when it comes to Stapleton

What’s in a name? A lot when it comes to Stapleton, the community built on the site of the airport named for former Denver mayor and Ku Klux Klan member Benjamin Stapleton.

A heated debate over the name “Stapleton” culminated in a vote this summer by property owners on whether to change it. More than 65 percent of those who cast votes opted to keep it. 

Many residents who voted against the name change believed it would be too expensive and that the name was more associated with the former airport than the former mayor. They also argued that despite Klan membership early in his political career, Stapleton had a positive impact on the city, building the City and County building, the airport and the system of mountain parks including Red Rocks.

Those voting for the change disagreed.

“We should not let inconveniences distract us from doing the right thing at this moment in time,” Stanley Marketplace co-founder Mark Shaker, a Stapleton resident since 2009, wrote in a testimonial for the advocacy group Rename St*pleton For All. “Our children and future generations of community members will benefit from our thoughtful and responsible decision to make a change.”

Stapleton served as mayor from 1923 to 1931 and again from 1935 to 1947 and was a member of the KKK, appointing Klan members to prominent city positions, including police chief. By 1925, he had fallen out with the Klan. 

While residents of the community voted to keep the name Stapleton, several community institutions have dropped it. In May, public charter school DSST: Stapleton became DSST: Montview. In 2018, the Stapleton Development Corp. voted to call itself SDC, and in 2017, the Stapleton Foundation became the Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities. 

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