Born in Lafayette to immigrant parents, JD Mangat brings his unique perspective and vision to City Hall as he honors the past and looks toward the future.

By Dell Bleekman

 

Lafayette local Jaideep “JD” Mangat knows the American success story because he saw it as a child. His parents emigrated from Punjab, India, in the mid-1990s. “They were both highly educated, but upon arriving here, realized their degrees were simply less valuable.” JD’s father held a Ph.D., yet his first job in the U.S. was at a gas station, while his mother worked in the food industry. “Coming to a new country with a new language and culture was difficult for them,” JD recalls, noting that their hard work eventually paid off. “They were able to achieve a great amount with few resources. That gave me the confidence to know that I could do the same. I could make something great of my life even when the odds were stacked against me,” he says.

Born and Raised

JD attended Lafayette schools—Alicia Sanchez Elementary, Angevine Middle School—and found his groove at Centaurus High School. As a freshman, he worked on a committee that created the Lafayette Skate Park (at Baseline and N. 114th), which proved to be a valuable lesson in local governance. “I felt I had done something that mattered,” he recalls. Being part of the process made an impact; that same year he got involved as a member of the Student Accountability Advisory Committee (SAAC), a student-led group that addressed issues like healthy eating and waste reduction in district schools.

This passion for public service continued after Centaurus and on to CU Boulder, as JD attended classes and worked with the Lafayette Peer Empowerment Project, as well as Lafayette’s Communities That Care community board. He graduated from CU with a degree in business in 2017, and that desire to serve Lafayette never faded.

Committing to the Public Sector

In a brash move, JD ran for Lafayette’s city council the year he graduated from college. “I found myself interviewing with companies and they would ask, ‘What excites you about our company?’ and the answer was: nothing.” So, fresh out of college with no political experience, going up against 15 other people, JD threw his hat in the ring for a city council spot. And he lost.

JD worked in the private sector for a year, but he never lost sight of his goal. “I was still attending council meetings, taking notes,” JD recalls. “Sometimes I was the only one there.” That fortitude paid off when an elected member of the city council moved, leaving a vacancy. In 2018, JD was appointed to the council. A whirlwind eight months later, he had to run for election—and this time he wanted to earn it. “We knocked on doors, we raised funds, we got out the vote,” he says. And it worked—JD’s campaign was a success.

City Council Duties

One success JD points to is Lafayette’s 50/50 agreement with Erie in regard to defining urban growth boundary lines, developing the corner of Arapahoe Road and 287 and splitting development costs. “We worked together to make sure both communities benefited,” says JD. “The agreement with Erie is a huge accomplishment.”

Another pressing concern facing Lafayette and other Front Range cities is affordable housing. Toward that end, the council is pushing ahead with Willoughby Corner, a neighborhood at the intersection of 120th and East Emma streets. “This will provide four hundred permanently affordable homes, duplexes, apartments and townhomes,” JD says, noting there are also plans for gardens, trails and open space.

In December 2021, JD became mayor—Lafayette’s youngest ever at only 26 years old. Lafayette’s mayor is appointed by the city council for a two-year term. JD is humbled and thrilled at the prospect of serving his term as mayor but knows it’s a team effort, saying, “I facilitate the meetings, but we all work together on the council.” And he knows the council has heavy lifting ahead. “The primary issues Lafayette faces are the same our regional communities are facing as well,” JD states. “Namely, affordable housing, oil and gas drilling, transportation, and growth.”

The Other Day Job

JD hasn’t strayed far from his roots; he’s currently a social studies teacher at Angevine Middle School. “It’s the most diverse middle school in the district, and the students are just like me,” he says. His students may not yet vote, but they’re his biggest supporters. “They think it’s cool to have a personal connection with the mayor,” JD says,“but I tell them every day: One of you will be the mayor too!”

Like a true politician, JD keeps his options open. “I’m finishing a master’s degree now and am focusing on being the best teacher I can be,” he states. “With my folks here, their business here, my job here, I know I want to be a part of Lafayette forever.”

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