Election could sway Aurora council’s decision on Noe as city manager

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AURORA | A city council that has for the past year been sharply divided over the performance of Aurora City Manager George “Skip” Noe is gaining two new members and potentially more after the November municipal election.

How the election shakes out may decide Noe’s future with the city. Most of the councilwomen who tried to oust the city manager nearly a year ago said they are ready to bring up the issue again.

Skip Noe on Monday April 13, 2015 at Aurora Municipal Center. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)“I think council needs to have the discussion,” said Barb Cleland, when asked whether she believed Noe would come up as an issue after November. 

Cleland, an at-large councilwoman, pushed forward a surprise vote of no confidence at a regular meeting in January as a way to express her dissatisfaction with Noe. She was supported in the measure by four other council members: Renie Peterson, Molly Markert, Sally Mounier and Marsha Berzins. 

Since the vote, Peterson said she is no longer opposed to Noe as city manager and doesn’t plan to bring the issue up again.

“I have not had any further problems with the city manager. The issues I had were addressed. He worked through the process, we made changes,” she said. “I’m hoping we can start a new slate. I don’t know what the new council will bring, but I’m looking forward to getting a couple of new council members to work with.” 

Five of 10 council seats are up for election, with two incumbents leaving due to term limits. Three seats are for ward positions, and two are at-large seats.

Noe, in an email response, did not directly address questions about a new no-confidence vote or whether he had plans to retire within the next year.

“Municipal elections happen every two years and, as staff, we are ready to work with the new Council,” Noe said. “Our responsibility is to work with the newly elected to help orient them to their new responsibilities and bring them up to speed on outstanding projects as well as to support all of the council members on setting their goals and objectives for the future. We look forward to working with both new and returning elected officials to continue to move Aurora forward.”

A slim majority of six city council members have consistently and staunchly backed Noe just as five had demanded he resign.  Noe’s supporters include Bob Roth, Bob LeGare, Debi Hunter Holen, Brad Pierce, Bob Broom and Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan. Peterson said she’s now also in that camp.

All of them have said they would stand behind Noe’s performance if the issue comes up after November.

“I’m 100 percent behind him and what he’s done for the city and will do for the city,” said Pierce, an at-large councilman, whose sentiments were echoed by LeGare and Roth. 

“We need to move on. It’s time to move on,” said Debi Hunter Holen, the only female council member to refrain from voting against the city manager in January.

Since January, the city has paid a mediator $1,370 to work with Noe and the city council on issues, according to city spokeswoman Kim Stuart. The city also held three closed-door meetings concerning Noe since that time.

Ward VI Councilman Bob Broom is one of those staunch supporters who will be leaving this November. Francoise Bergan, Brian Arnold and PK Kaiser are the three candidates who could potentially replace him.

Bergan said her few experiences working with Noe while on the Citizens Advisory Budget Committee have been positive.

I prefer not to have a position, especially on a personnel issue until I’m really more familiar with the situation, where I can evaluate that on my own,” she said. “I understand and I respect that others have had a different experience.”

Markert, who is leaving her Ward IV council seat in November, will be replaced by either Charlie Richardson or Joe Lewis. Both have said they will not comment or make a decision about Noe until they are elected to city council.

“It would be unfair to Mr. Noe for me to come to  City Council with an opinion about him as our city manager,” said Lewis. “As a citizen I have had little exposure to him.”

For nearly a year, council members have kept mum about closed-door meetings surrounding allegations that Noe treats some of the councilwomen unfairly. The details they have revealed to the media have mostly been a critique of Noe’s management style.

In April, Noe issued a public statement  responding to the criticism.

“The newspaper reports include accusations that I have mistreated specific council members — yelling at and mistreating them — and that I have treated the female members differently from the male members of Council,” he said in the statement. “I treat and value all people equally and, as I have said repeatedly in the past, these allegations are not accurate.”

After he released the statement, Noe said that supporters had urged him to respond publicly to allegations.

“After a lot of soul-searching, I thought it was important that I  make a public statement,” he said. “I have no comment on any reaction of council members to my statement. It stands for itself.”

Mounier, who said she would like to see Noe leave the position, expects the issue to come up after Noe’s annual performance review in December. She said the divided council has been able to focus on other things in the meantime.

“We’ve been able to do the city’s business even though there have been issues,” she said. 

Hogan said he would not speculate on what will happen with the two new council members come November.

“I don’t think that’s fair to either the Manager, or the candidates,” he said.  “The job of City Manager, or that any other employee for that matter, is not to win a popularity contest.  It is to make the City run well.  The job is also to serve the citizens of the City, following the policy direction of the Mayor and City Council.  The City Manager does that every day, as do the rest of our great city employees.”

Aurora operates under the council-manager form of government, where council members set legislative policy and the budget, and a city manager carries out the day-to-day operations with a city staff. Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan has a full-time position while serving a mostly ceremonial function with the power to create and break ties on council votes.

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Joe Hardhat
Joe Hardhat
6 years ago

Hopefully the new Aurora city council members will be fair minded and professional in regards to Skip Noe rather than resorting to the histrionics displayed by a group of councilwomen last January.

Frank2525
Frank2525
6 years ago
Reply to  Joe Hardhat

Think you are talking through your hat on this one, Joe. Unless you sit on council, and are female, you have no real knowledge of how City Manager reacts to the female on that council. Just as I don’t either. So why make comment of “tantrum”. Could you be inserting your personal opinion, into a very serious problem, if Skip does have communications problems.
I have seen this attitude in meetings over my years, and know how my wife and I have reacted to some of those. Unfortunately, rumor or opinions can and will effect election now underway in Aurora. My experiences with council since retiring and moving back to my Aurora Home have been positive, from males and females, and have had personal and phone discussion over those years on neighborhood issues, and city management.
But not being on council or involved with interfacing there, I have no opinion,

Joe Hardhat
Joe Hardhat
6 years ago
Reply to  Frank2525

This forum is here for folks to express their opinions and pass on their knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, other people use this blog to troll and insult others, a form of amusement to some. My opinion in regards to the city council is based on my observations and interactions, and is just as valid as the next guy.

Frank2525
Frank2525
6 years ago
Reply to  Joe Hardhat

Same as mine, Joe. And I have long experience over the years. Wife born in Denver 1935, I first came to Denver in 1951 to attend training at Lowry, met her when she attended East High School, married in 1952 at church on York St, still there. In those days, Aurora was Altura, and drive to Dutchmans doughnut shop on Colfax, was out to the country.
Military service, but returned to Denver through the years, and bought home in Aurora 1963. Kept as I completed 26 years service, and moved back in Feb 1977 and lived here since. Not much contact with city management in those days, but knew of them (of one Mayor who carried weapon to meetings), which became joke between Mayor Tauer and me, when I asked if he ever did. Said there were meetings he wished he had (and we laughed).
When city redid sidewalks few years ago, eager young stud gave me 7 days to move construction materials off my sidewalk, that he watched the contractor crew deposit in AM, handed my wife citation when he watched me drive to Lowry AFB, as retiree volunteer 12-3 PM. I e-mailed every council member and Mayor Tauer on that issue, suggesting young stud go to academy, put on blue suit, and do something worthwhile. He went into fire department soon after.
MY POINT: I received phone calls from most of the council, and we had some laughs over it. And I met most of them over the years. NEVER SAW ANY TANTRUMS FROM THEM, MALE OR FEMALE. So I question your observance of such. I have attended council meetings, in earlier years, served as block neighborhood watch observer for several blocks, and had serious or social meetings. And that was with several councils over that time.
So don’t get thin skinned over this Joe. Neither one of us needs to get ulcers. But some of your remarks appeal to sexist line, and on serious matters, that is not acceptable. Does that clear it up for you?? I happen to consider some of those folks as friends, and I have NO contact with Skip Noe. So I cannot speak to his relations within the council, and won’t.

Love Aurora Broadcast
Love Aurora Broadcast
6 years ago

More on Skip Noe and the man behind the title. https://www.loveaurora.org/noe/