Aurora Democrats announce slate of candidates for 2023 city council, mayor positions

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EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that two years ago, Democrats held a thin majority on the city council. Previously, the city council was held by five Democrats and five Republicans and one unaffiliated representative. 

AURORA | A slate of Democrats announced Sunday at a joint press conference that they will be running for Aurora City Council in this fall’s elections.

That includes current city Councilmember Juan Marcano, who will be running for mayor.

“I’m running for Mayor to create an Aurora that puts our working families first — to create a city that is safe, clean, and thriving,” Marcano said on social media following an announcement at the Aurora Municipal Center Sunday afternoon.

Marcano is joined by fellow city Councilmember Alison Coombs, Pastor Thomas Mayes, anti-gang activist Jason McBride, attorney Brian Matise and community organizer Chris Rhodes, who all announced their intention to run as a slate of Democrats for city council seats.

It’s unclear so far whether other Democrats will also run for city council or the mayor’s seat this year. Not other such formal announcements, nor pacts, have been announced.

The city council currently has a 6-4 Republican majority. Mayor Mike Coffman, who can cast votes in the event of a tie, is also a Republican. City council seats are technically nonpartisan, but critical city council decisions have become hyper-partisan and polarizing, particularly in recent years.

As much of the Aurora region has swung politically left in the past several years, the Aurora City Council is one of few institutions still controlled by Republicans. Just two years ago, Democrats nearly controlled the city council. At the time, the dais was split among five Democrats, five Republicans and swing-voted unaffiiated member. That swung toward a narrow GOP domination with elections in 2021.

This fall’s election offers Democrats a shot at changing that, as five of the city council’s seats and the mayorship are up for reelection.

The terms of at-large representatives Angela Lawson and Curtis Gardner, Ward VI representative Francoise Bergan, Ward V representative Coombs and Ward IV representative Marcano all expire in November. Gardner and Bergan are Republicans. Lawson is unaffiliated and frequently votes with Republicans; Coombs and Marcano are Democrats.

After losing his Congressional seat to Jason Crow in 2018, Coffman was narrowly elected as Aurora’s mayor in 2019, beating Aurora NAACP president Omar Montgomery by just hundreds of votes. Coffman has not officially announced whether he intends to run for a second term but in a December interview with FOX31 Denver said he does plan to run for reelection.

“I am going to run again, you heard it first,” he said in response to a question about his plans from anchor Matt Mauro.

Marcano was elected to the city council in 2019. An outspoken progressive, he is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and has clashed with Coffman and the council’s conservative members on the dais and on social media. He has advocated for increasing affordable housing in the region and raising the minimum wage, along with other policies intended to benefit low-income Aurorans. Before taking office he worked as a manager and designer at several architecture firms.

The Democratic city council candidates are:

Ward IV – Jason McBride: longtime anti-gang activist Jason McBride has worked in a number of roles to serve at-risk youth in the Denver and Aurora communities, and is currently a violence prevention specialist at the Denver-based nonprofit Struggle of Love Foundation and the executive director of McBride Impact. A native of Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood, he now lives in Aurora.

Ward V – Chris Rhodes: Rhodes works as a community organizer focused on economic justice issues at the Colorado People’s Alliance, a progressive organization that current city council member Crystal Murillo is also involved with. He previously worked with at-risk youth and people in residential facilities in California, Indiana and Maryland, according to his biography on the Alliance’s website.  

Ward VI – Brian Matise: Matise is a shareholder-level attorney at the Englewood-based law firm Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, where he specializes in commercial litigation, product liability mass tort litigation and class actions. Matise is an expert in special districts and has sued several metropolitan districts on behalf of homeowners. He received his law degree from the University of New Mexico in 1998. 

At-large – Alison Coombs: Coombs is currently the city council’s Ward V representative. She was first elected in 2019, beating Republican incumbent Bob Roth. She works as a program manager at a residence for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and is the first openly LGBTQ person on Aurora’s city council.

At-large – Thomas Mayes: Mayes is the reverend at Living Waters Christian Center Church and has been active in the Aurora community for many years, including serving as a community liaison for the Aurora Police Department following the 2012 theater shooting and as a member of the now-disbanded community police task force. He ran unsuccessfully for an at-large city council seat in 2019.

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Blaze
Blaze
16 days ago

Oh Sentinel, how you gloss and spin. This slate represents the most radical leftist activists and ideology the city has ever seen, period.

I don’t know much about McBride but a few Google searches raise red flags regarding his relationship to gangs and culture. I’d like to know his backstory.

Socialists Coombs and Marcano have already shown their hands as not only sympathetic to criminals, but complicit in attacks on police within their own station.

I’m fairly certain any organizer for CPA aligns 100% with the two so Chris Rhodes is likely hiding his affiliation in the socialist DSA, just as the two did until their swearing-in.

“Pastor” Thomas Mayes is a race-baiting blacktivist currently suing the very city he wants to represent. According to Ballotpedia, he came in dead last when he ran two years ago for the same seat, so Aurora may already be onto him.

These people in city hall would make quick work of turning Aurora over to crime, homeless squalor, and illegal immigration. This is not speculation; the votes of the two socialists are recorded in the city record. They’d crush economic development, small businesses, and any hope of community improvement with burdensome minimum wages, fees, taxes, and restrictions.

And I am 100% positive that the Sentinel will endorse EVERY one of them. Prove me wrong.

Fretnot
Fretnot
16 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Fear mongering… The last resort when things are about to change. C’mon blaze, breathe in…breathe out ! Its going to be ok. Hordes of migrants, blacktivists and race baiters will pass your house without tearing it up ! Who knows if you talk to your neighbors you might even discover they are humans too. God forbids ! Step outside prove us wrong 🙂

Blaze
Blaze
16 days ago
Reply to  Fretnot

Fretnot, thank you for the reply. It gives me an opportunity to mention another discovery that supports my suspicions about McBride. In his words, “He started gang-banging at 15 years old.” Yep, Crips, apparently. None of them are my neighbors. But I will definitely let them know all about his sordid past.

Arnie Schultz
Arnie Schultz
16 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Blaze, are you saying people who did the wrong thing at an early age, or even later in live, can’t change. Just look at the success of the Second Chance Center in Aurora, Ready to Work Aurora, and many other similar programs

Blaze
Blaze
15 days ago
Reply to  Arnie Schultz

I am saying the candidate should be transparent with the voters, especially when they are a former gang member working with gang members in the community.

Zero
Zero
15 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Hey, does your commitment to candidate transparency extend to party affiliation? Do you think the voters should know if they’re voting for a Republican, even though Danielle Jurinsky and Steve Sundberg only won by hiding that affiliation?

Also, did you watch the video or have you followed anything about youth violence prevention in this state ever? Jason McBride is incredibly transparent about his past and how his life story and experience of getting out of gangs has helped him save thousands of young people from making the same mistakes, he’s never tried to hide it. And Juan Marcano has always been transparent about his connections to the DSA, he’s never hid it at all, even before he was elected the first time – he wore that pin to the debates and he had their info on his website the whole time. You were just busy clutching your pearls and wailing over every lie from the right that you didn’t notice, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been transparent, it means you’re just a panicked troll trying to make normal people into jumpscares for YOUR own agenda.

Blaze
Blaze
15 days ago
Reply to  Zero

How much you assume. I am not a partisan hack who votes blue or red, especially in municipal races where my concerns are safety, roads, life quality, commerce and services. I can see where Marcano and co. want to take it instead. Little Venezuela.

Blaze
Blaze
14 days ago
Reply to  Zero

Oh please. Wore a pin to the debate? He certainly never publicly celebrated his affiliation with the socialist DSA organization.

I find no website for his mayoral bid, but I do find a new, scrubbed-up, white-shirted picture (no pin there) on his Facebook page and the following description: “Progressive Democrat committed to dismantling systemic inequities for Aurora’s working class.” Considering his attempted whitewash, the photo is apropos.

No mention of socialism or the Marxist he is.

I would respect him more if he would just come out and own it. But he won’t, the coward.

luna
luna
15 days ago
Reply to  Arnie Schultz

hey we dont fire cops who get caught drunk on duty

Arnie Schultz
Arnie Schultz
15 days ago
Reply to  luna

Because they fired the Police Chief who would have.

Blaze
Blaze
14 days ago
Reply to  Arnie Schultz

Arnie, Wilson had every opportunity to do so, and didn’t. Don’t play revisionist history.

Karen
Karen
14 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

If you know anything about discipline and personnel issues with law enforcement in Aurora, you know it’s not simple enough for the chief alone to do it. It’s not that she didn’t, it’s that she couldn’t.

Blaze
Blaze
12 days ago
Reply to  Karen

Tell that to Arnie. He thinks “fired the Police Chief who would have.”

Blaze
Blaze
16 days ago
Reply to  Fretnot

One more thing, Fretty: Please denote ANY point I made that is untrue and fear-mongering. Any point. Facts are stubborn things.

Arnie Schultz
Arnie Schultz
16 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Blaze, were do you get your facts from?

The Democratic Socialists of America are a political and activist organization, not a party. Through campus and community-based chapters, DSA members use a variety of tactics, including legislation, to fight for reforms that empower working people.

Are you opposed to working people?

Blaze
Blaze
15 days ago
Reply to  Arnie Schultz

In their own words ON THEIR WEBSITE: “The Democratic Socialists of America is the largest socialist organization in the United States…”

Their agenda is simple: They want socialism insinuated in America. And get their members elected to public office in order to do so. Are you a member?

If you dispute ANY of my facts, tell me which ones, and I will gladly cite the source.

Blaze
Blaze
15 days ago
Reply to  Arnie Schultz

I am not opposed to working people at all. I love people to work. It’s a virtue that more of your friends should buy into, instead of feeding off so-called entitlements and other government-enabled scams.

Fretnot
Fretnot
16 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Good to see u know your neighbors blazy. U just need to talk to them now. Progress already ! Apologies for not denoting any “facts”… Since Jan 6th I try to keep my fears, I mean facts:, fair and balanced. I wish you an anxiety free fall Blazy (elections are indeed stubborn)
Sorry for the familiarity but since we are on a Fretty basis I thought you would not mind. Glad i could give you an opportunity to tear down those godless commies, I mean radical socialists (Fear always comes to mind when I think of Northern European countries, must be socialism) In any case, following your lead, I will let my neighbors know about them. I have the feeling u and I are already creating more dialogue around us. I knew something positive would come out of this amicable exchange. Be seeing you citizen Blazy. Cordially Fretnot.
Cordially Fretnot

Blaze
Blaze
15 days ago
Reply to  Fretnot

As I suspected, you have nothing to credibly counter my true statements and only poor punctuation and sniveling sarcasm to offer. Good day, sir or madame or whatever personal pronoun you prefer.

Fretnot
Fretnot
15 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Forgive my punctuation your highness blaze. I am saddened you took this dialogue opportunity for sarcasm. Sarcasm would be a headstone engraved with “Here lies I was right ! Newsmax said so !” Nihil novo sub sole…Carry on citizen blaze ! And fret not about pronouns, humans come in all forms…Be seing you punctuation Tsar ! Remember fear is nobody’s friend Blaze. Fair and balanced enough for you I hope. Let’s keep it light. Amicably Fretnot.

Kate Mason
Kate Mason
16 days ago

Juan Marcano and Alison Coombs have been the most approachable and people focused councillors that this city has ever seen – both of them talk to everyday people, and have made real differences in the lives of the residents in their Wards. I hope that they can have the same attitudes and kindness toward Aurorans when they represent the whole city in 2024 as Mayor and At Large Councilmember!

Don Black
Don Black
16 days ago

I am an independent. I do not believe in the constant struggle for power between the two parties where the public good is ignored. I can tell you that Mr. Marcano has no idea about police work and what is good for the community. Another retired officer and I met with him and tried to give him a realistic picture of the state of the police department. He only cared about his own preconceived notions about law enforcement.He has very radical ideas that are simply based upon his social agenda without any thought given to consequences. As far as representing his people, he dumped on the people in my neighborhood by approving a building complex that does not fit. It fit his social agenda but he ignored the entire neighborhood’s pleas. So much for caring about the citizens he supposedly represents. His agenda is all that matters and it has no connection to reality.

Karen
Karen
16 days ago
Reply to  Don Black

“…agenda is all that matters and it has no connection to reality.”

You’ve also just described Mike Coffman, Dustin Zvonek, Danielle Jurinsky, and Steve Sundberg.

J Walter
J Walter
16 days ago

Well…I am just as offended by referring to Marcano as “progressive” as I am by calling the hateful, pretend-religious busybodies “Conservatives.” Marcano thinks flophouses are “affordable housing,” and building homes with no garages or storage won’t turn into targets for thieves and crime.
Can we find candidates who care about the CITY OF AURORA and not simply personal agendas? Looking at Marcano AND Jurinsky.

Bart Emanuel
Bart Emanuel
16 days ago

Lawson is a rudderless buffoon who has betrayed her community repeatedly. Her only agenda is going where she thinks the wind is blowing. I doubt very much you’re a Democrat or have ever lived in this city because you’re way out of step with what I’m hearing.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
15 days ago
Reply to  Bart Emanuel

Huh, a marxist who doesn’t like someone voting outside the party, imagine that.

Susan
Susan
16 days ago

Wow. Lots of criticism for people who came together to run for office, who will work together. I wonder if any of the critics have ever met, spoken with or even communicated with any of these candidates? So quick to criticize, yet not to step up themselves to get active in their community. I recommend people get to know these candidates before making uninformed decisions.  

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
15 days ago
Reply to  Susan

Yes, if it’s one thing you can’t stand, it’s being criticized for anything.

The Red Guard worked together too, but that doesn’t mean teamwork is a virtue.

Blaze
Blaze
15 days ago
Reply to  Susan

Susan, I have commented here based on firsthand knowledge of Marcano, Coombs, and Mayes but I highly suspect the Sentinel will suppress it entirely or dump it here after this story is buried. It is damning and highly unflattering.

Blaze
Blaze
15 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

And I was right. Sentinel still has not published my comment.

Karen
Karen
16 days ago

Lawson’s so-called lack of agenda has also left a lot of us wondering what she stands for. I’ve voted for Angela twice, but some of her recent votes and actions have left me befuddled and wondering what her values are. Thus, I will not be voting for her again.

I also think it’s really petty for you, as someone who seems to proudly proclaim a departure from Aurora, to call people willing to step up for the community “buffoons” simply because you don’t like them. What do you know about them? Have things in Aurora improved at all since we elected the most recent members in 2021? In my estimation, not at all. Embrace your new community and move on.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
15 days ago

These races would benefit by more competition and less concern for partisan control.

So when do we vote on bringing Ranked Choice Voting to Aurora? SOS and county clerks need to be ready in 2027.

parched
parched
13 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Brown

You bring up a good question for all the Aurora candidates: Where do you stand on Ranked Choice Voting in Aurora?

Livesimple
Livesimple
15 days ago

Considering Marcano said that half his constituents are satan death cultists, I think I’ll pass. If you want to make a difference for ALL your constituents, try to communicate, gain an understanding and stop making assumptions about people that might not agree with you. That comment alienated him from half his ward and he did not even seem to care. Just because some of us don’t agree with you, we are not automatically satan worshipers. Find common ground if you want to make a difference and get things done. I can’t think of one thing this guy has actually done for the city since being in office. He also justified the comments above by saying he had no intention of being a career politician. So much for that, in essence he is making a very good politician. Full of it rhetoric. Tapping out on voting for someone that is so judgmental and small minded.

Zero
Zero
15 days ago
Reply to  Livesimple

Hey, can you share your sources on half of Aurora being Republican party leaders? Because there’s no voter registration that proves that even a little bit. Republicans are a significant minority in Aurora, and their leadership (leadership is who Marcano called a the death cult, by the way, not all Republicans- as founders of the #notallmen and #notallcops and #notallfascists hashtags, I think you’d be familiar with that kind of rhetoric by now) is probably like 3 people in Aurora.

Zvonek himself openly admitted that if Aurorans knew they were Republicans, he and Jurinsky and Sundberg could never have won. He wrote a whole editorial about it in the Greenwood Villager, maybe look it up. Half of Aurora aren’t even Republican, and would never vote Republican.

Arnie Schultz
Arnie Schultz
15 days ago
Reply to  Livesimple

Have you ever attended or watched any of his Town Hall Meetings or any of the other 3 Democrats on City Council? The are extremely informative and offer speakers on both sides of a topic. Why do some of the Republicans on City Council, particularly Jurinsky and Coffman “Call for the question” even before any discussion can be heard. Is it because they don’t want the residents of Aurora to hear the facts? Why, during untelevised breaks, does one of the Republicans on the city council like to taunt the people in the audience in the city council chambers who have testified against what she believes? I also wonder why the vast majority of the Republics on this, and other chats hide behind a false name, while the vast majority of Democrats don’t. Why is that?

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
14 days ago
Reply to  Arnie Schultz

I also wonder why the vast majority of the Republics on this, and other chats hide behind a false name, while the vast majority of Democrats don’t. Why is that?”

Based on the past 100 years of marxist political activism.

Blaze
Blaze
14 days ago
Reply to  Arnie Schultz

Simple. Because conservatives do not threaten you with harm. Because you and so many of your ilk are mentally unwell, radicalized, and unstable.

I’ve seen your hysterics at the podium, Mr. Schultz. And I’ve seen footage of your comrades obstructing highways, setting city buildings on fire, and trapping police inside their own quarters, while then-chief Wilson pandered over the phone for hours. I’ve seen the calls for anarchy. I’ve seen video of suburban neighborhoods disrupted by “democrat” protesters and children frightened. I’ve seen Coombs disobey lawful orders and Marcano call Republicans a “sadistic death cult” on more than one occasion.

In a word, you scare me. Your people are unhinged and I don’t want them to know me or be near my family. That’s why.

Fretnot
Fretnot
13 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Music can be soothing when chaos is confused with anarchy. Maybe David Bowie’s song: “I’m afraid of Americans” can help…The only thing we have to fear is fear itself patriot Blaze…😱
Be seeing u citizen Blaze.
Cordially fret not.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
14 days ago
Reply to  Livesimple

Re “satan death cultists” please know that there are Unaffiliated Independent voters who love their family regardless of politics on both sides. To us, your statement is not at all helpful and deeply detracts from any rationale argument you’re trying to make. Was that really your objective?

Aurora Citizen 23
Aurora Citizen 23
6 days ago

With any luck we can get people on council and other positions who are actually focused on the good of the entire city and community and not just retail renters at Southlands that will eventually leave anyway.. might as well call it Nordstrom FRACK .. stop the Lowry Ranch CAP, start caring about Aurora and Ward 6… the direction we are headed is disgusting!!!!!!