Final ‘no’ vote on contentious Aurora city council vacancy appointment draws addition ire

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Aurora City Council members at the end of an hours-long virtual meeting July 29, 2021 and a failed attempt to appoint one of two applicants to a vacant Ward II city council seat. Councilman Dave Gruber proposed filling the vacancy last night with the likely winner of the recent Ward II election, drawing ire from opponents. SENTINEL SCREEN GRAB

AURORA | A last-ditch effort to cure the Aurora City Council of its charter violation for failing to appoint a Ward II council member earlier this year failed on a tie-vote Monday evening. 

At-large member Dave Gruber proposed appointing Steve Sundberg, who is currently winning the Ward II race, to the seat for the remaining days of former member Nicole Johnston’s term.

Sundberg currently leads candidate Bryan Lindstrom by about 1,200 votes.

Sundberg was the top choice of conservative members for the appointment over the summer. Council members voted more than 150 times between Sundberg and Ryan Ross, the college administrator who had been endorsed by Johnston and was favored by progressive council members, before accepting the impasse and agreeing to violate city charter rules that dictated a member should be appointed within 45 days of the vacancy.

The proposal from Gruber said that if Sundberg won the election, which will be certified on Nov. 19, he would assume the vacancy, giving him one official meeting as an appointee. 

Council members Crystal Murillo, Angela Lawson, Allison Hiltz, Juan Marcano and Alison Coombs voted against the proposal. 

“What I’m asking for right now is for us to use the data that we have obtained in the same way that we would use a survey to determine what the citizens and ward actually wanted,” Gruber said of his pitch. “We now know definitively who they wanted, and if we had had this information back when we had the debate, we would have made the decision back when we had the debate, because now we do have the information, and we are in violation of the charter.”

“I believe it’s our duty to put somebody in that seat, because we have the definitive information,” he said.

Murillo said the move was “incredibly performative” and was an attempt to “show off” the results of the Ward II election, while Hiltz said it possibly “tarnishes” Sundberg’s credibility.

When asked by Hiltz, Gruber said that he’d told Sundberg earlier in the day he would try to bring the vacancy appointment up during the Monday meeting. 

“I think that he deserves to come into this council with his credibility intact for running a campaign that led to him winning. And I think this undermines that,” Hiltz said.

Newly-elected council members are slated to be sworn in on Dec. 6.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the swearing in date as Dec. 6

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Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
27 days ago

Bryan Lindstrom a far superior candidate in every way.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
27 days ago

Yes, of course, but this is not what the election was for. It was about taking “total CONTROL” of our City. “So it is written, so it shall be done.”

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
25 days ago

Which must be why he has lost his last two races.

Brent G Taylor
Brent G Taylor
25 days ago

And yet he didn’t win the seat.

Dean
24 days ago

According to who? It’s obvious the voters disagree.
This outcome was the voters doing what they perceived as necessary and a vital self-repair. The ultimate conclusion the voters had connected the dots that faced up against the past history of what Nicholes Ward 2 direction had been targeting for. Johnston decamped the city several months before her term ended. Be that as it may, if she had remained and would have tried to replay all her charm, what would that look like? Pretty simple, it looked like the voters after seeing the Johnson façade, voters said enough. And enough, to the general political philosophy when she had finally showed her cards that she was willing to play, they showed it all. This honestly showed there is no privilege of Ward legacy something Hiltz, Murillo, and company for some odd reason seem to think is some EMERGE grad preference, and exist for a few in the club. In the interim, Mr. Lindstrom, can continue on his course to demonstrate his vast knowledge of how the world works to the captive audience of eager-beaver teenagers.  The voters however, are and will be a little more demanding with expectations from their leaders. They don’t have to renew anyone’s contract, including the Johnson seat on the dais.     

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
27 days ago

They might as well install Sundberg now and let the “total CONTROL” begin. I don’t see that a couple of months is going to change what is about to happen.

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
27 days ago

Debra, not only should you be concerned that he almost was a leader in our community but you should be terribly concerned that this Marxist is teaching your children history in high school. This is the second election he has lost in Aurora so many of our citizens follow my train of thought, not yours. Your comment shows me you must be a socialist or just have a lack of understanding of reality in Aurora.

Doug King
Doug King
27 days ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Here we go with the “Marxist” and socialist name calling again….never ends…no facts or solutions just name calling….pathetic

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
26 days ago
Reply to  Doug King

What’s pathetic is the growth of socialism and Marxism in the USA and Aurora. Fifty years ago I fought in Viet Nam to stop this growth in the world and I will continue to attempt to stop it’s growth in my community.

I have simple solutions for Aurora. Less government intrusion in our community and only address those items that we can control at the local level.

I may be many things but I doubt that I’m pathetic.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
27 days ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Tossing around terms like “Marxist” and “socialist” only proves you don’t know what either of those terms mean.

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
26 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

I probably couldn’t convince you that I’m very aware what both of these two terms are defined to be.

Your reply is silly and meaningless and without any true thought involved. A middle school civics student could have written a better thought to attack my stance, Jeff. You might be able to do better in the future.

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
25 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

A “Democratic” Socialist is a socialist. Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is a socialist organization — by their own website description — the largest socialist organization in the U.S., to be precise.

Man, you socialist apologists wear me out.

Brent G Taylor
Brent G Taylor
25 days ago

If there had been any question, as the Council deadlocked some 150 times (wow!) on filling/appointing the Ward II rep position, as to which “side” (again an inappropriate designation for a local, city government) was at fault, Monday should clear that up. It is such an obvious thing to appoint Sundberg. Of the five that voted to do so, were there any truth or wisdom to idea that doing so would taint his successful campaign and election, it is doubtful they would have agreed. That’s a spurious, ridiculous, obstinate excuse for five council members to block (by two weeks!) his inevitable swearing in and tenure/term.