Former state house candidate threatens to sue Aurora over reversal of pit bull ban

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AURORA | An Aurora man has declared his intent to sue the City of Aurora over the city council’s recent decision to reverse a standing ban on residents owning several dog breeds, including American pit bull terriers.

Resident Matt Snider penned a letter to City Attorney Dan Brotzman earlier this month, stating that he intends to file suit against the city unless local politicos agree to renege on the decision they made earlier this month to nix the city’s 15-year-old ban on residents owning pit bulls and a pair of other breeds.

Matt Snider (Photo provided

Snider, who has lived in Aurora for a decade, lambasted the council’s decision to unilaterally axe the ban from the dais at city hall. He said he takes issue not with the ban itself, but with city lawmakers overturning what he believes was the direction of voters in 2014.

“The city council does not have the right or authority under the city charter nor the Colorado Constitution to nullify the expressed will and direction of the people and instead substitute their judgment on the issue,” Snider wrote in a letter addressed to Brotzman and city council members dated Jan. 4.

Snider, a registered Democrat, unsuccessfully ran to represent House District 56 in the Colorado Legislature in 2016. He was a candidate for Cherry Creek schools board in 2017. He appeared on the radio program The Ross Kominsky Show on 630 KHOW last week airing his grievances over the recent ordinance, and Denver newspaper Westword published a story on his letter earlier on Tuesday.

Council voted 7-3 to rescind the ban on Jan. 11, with Republicans Francoise Bergan, Marsha Berzins and Dave Gruber dissenting. In the fall, local lawmakers approved a so-called dangerous dog ordinance that will allow courts to reprimand owners of dogs who act violently toward others.

Snider has said he will file a suit if officials do not kowtow to his demands by the time the ban is formally lifted at the end of February. He said plans to ask a judge to impose an injunction on the city, preventing officials from codifying the recently passed ordinance.

Instead, Snider is asking the city to issue a ballot question asking voters whether they want to repeal the existing ban. He is asking officials to certify identical language of a 2014 ballot question that sought to gauge voter appetite for the current law. The question volleyed to residents seven years ago was roundly rejected.

“The people voted against removing the pit bull ban and therefore, the city council, which derives its authority from the consent of the voters, does not have the legal authority to reverse the expressed will of the people since it has yielded its authority to the people on this specific issue,” Snider wrote in his letter.

A spokesperson for the city disagreed.

“The question put before voters in 2014 did not contain language binding the city but rather was advisory in nature,” City Spokesman Michael Bryant wrote in an email. “After recently adopting dangerous-dog legislation, the city council chose to change the breed restrictions by ordinance.”

Still, Snider said his letter was motivated by a desire to respect the will of Aurora voters.

“This is not a blue or red issue,” he said via phone Tuesday. “If there was ever a purple issue this is it. Votes are sacred to me. They’re sacrosanct, and they need to be counted. And the opinion and will of the voters needs to be followed. I may be somewhat idealistic about this, but that’s what keeps democracy going.”

He said attempts to discredit legitimate votes cast in the recent presidential election motivated him to author his recent letter; keeping certain dogs out of the city he’s called home since moving from Texas in 2011 is irrelevant.

“This is not about the dogs,” Snider said. “It wouldn’t matter to me if this was over an issue of a parking ordinance or a basketball court ordinance — that has absolutely nothing to do with it. The substance of my complaint is focused squarely on the disenfranchisement and nullification of the voters.”

Snider is the IT director and personal injury investigator for a law firm in Lakewood. In his letter, he said he regularly reviews evidence in dog bite cases.

When reached via phone Jan. 26, he said the recent ordinance related to dogs in the city has spurred him to mull a run for one of two at-large city council seats that will be on the ballot in 2021.

Snider clarified that he has not yet filed any official documents against the city, though he plans to hire an attorney in the coming days.

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jeff brown
jeff brown
6 months ago

It amazes me how much time and energy is being sucked up by this one issue that impacts so few when there are so many more important issues for council to work on– like how to compete with Denver in hiring police officers and firefighters when Denver is kicking Aurora’s butt financially and sets the market for these vital positions.

Also, everyone south of Quincy should know that the Animal Control department is almost non-existent in that part of the city due largely to them trying to service the entire city from one location at the far northern edge of the city at 15750 E 32nd Ave. Animal Control is literally two counties away for some.

Last edited 6 months ago by jeff brown
FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
4 months ago
Reply to  jeff brown

Now that another pit bull has tried to rip off a 5-year-old’s face, does it now seem like a more “important issue?”

James
James
6 months ago

Oh come on!! Our city council final does something right and this random guy who claims to be a democrat is going to sue them! Didn’t he realize there was a time period for Aurora citizens to share their thoughts with the city council? Pretty sure there was broad support for this!

Joe Hardhat
Joe Hardhat
6 months ago

I thought the will of the city council superseded the people’s will. Certainly the leftists on the council believe that to be so.

Brent G Taylor
Brent G Taylor
6 months ago

Great! Go for it. Absolutely. Imagine I’ll vote to repeal the ban; but I want my right as an Aurora citizen to be able to vote on this. This, putting it on the ballot, was part of this discussion/deliberation by Council. It was and is a no-brainer to put this on the ballot, and not do this end around voters.

Jeremy P
Jeremy P
6 months ago

Basically, an ambulance chaser is trying to get some publicity for his ’21 campaign and great dogs (and their owners) are the unfortunate victims of his silly game. Well, good luck with that – public perception of “pitbulls” has changed dramatically over the last 3-5 years – just look at the landslide 66% vote in Denver to repeal the ban. Furthermore, the city council has clear and full constitutional authority to enact or repeal any ordinance, regardless of how or why it was originally enacted. The people elect city council members to make these decisions, and that’s what occurred here – clear and simple. The lawsuit has no grounds and will be easily dismissed. As an 8-year Aurora citizen and a responsible dog owner, I find the lawsuit to be a politically motivated waste of public resources. If you run, I will be voting against you, Matt — and given the results of the ballot measure to end the ban in Denver, so will the majority of Aurora voters. Good luck to you!

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy P

You spoke too soon.

Mary
Mary
6 months ago

Seriously?; “kowtow”? Does the writer even knows what that means?
kowtow – act in an excessively subservient manner.
renege – (not re-neg)to go back on one’s word, a negative image.
The city council can’t be subservient to him. He is not the king of Aurora. He wants them to abide by a vote of the people as he sees it. That is something the courts will decide if he brings suit.

Words have meaning and convey subtle messages both positive and negative. In this case the negative messages are subtly aimed at Matt Snider and do not belong in a news article. But… it is the Sentinel.