DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Mayor Michael Hancock spoke with FOX31 and Channel 2 Saturday afternoon in his first interview since he returned from Mississippi Friday night.
Hancock flew to visit relatives for Thanksgiving despite urging others to avoid travel.
Hancock was “traveling alone to join his wife and daughter where the three of them will celebrate Thanksgiving at her residence instead of having them travel back to Denver,” a city spokesperson said in an statement Wednesday morning.
“Upon return, he will follow all necessary health and safety guidance and quarantine,” the city spokesperson said.
Following a wave of critical comments online, Hancock issued an apology Wednesday afternoon.
“I apologize to the residents of Denver who see my decision as conflicting with the guidance to stay at home for all but essential travel. I made my decision as a husband and father, and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are borne of my heart and not my head,” the mayor said.
At a news conference earlier this month, Hancock urged people to “celebrate with just those you live with.” He also urged city employees to avoid traveling for Thanksgiving in a letter on Nov. 18.
In both the news conference and letter, the mayor referenced that he was canceling the large Thanksgiving gathering he normally holds with extended family, but did not reveal his travel plans.
In his Wednesday afternoon statement, Hancock said, “What I did not share, but should have, is that my wife and my daughter have been in Mississippi, where my daughter recently took a job.”
Hancock’s decision was widely criticized by people in Denver and beyond, with the story making national headlines.
In his Saturday interview with FOX31’s Matt Mauro, Hancock said he regrets the decision to fly to see family.
“I do see my decision as very unwise and hypocritical. It is a mistake that I deeply regret and apologize,” the mayor said. “I recognize my job is not only to help come up with safe practices for the entire city. It’s also to set an example. And on this measure, I failed.”
Hancock said he thought it would be less of a risk for him to travel alone than to have his wife and daughter travel.
“I didn’t follow my advice and I should have. And I know many people in Denver did follow my advice and weren’t able to see family this holiday. So to all of those people, I offer my sincere, deepest apologies as well,” he said.