RED FLAG: Aurora lawmakers strike NASCAR-entertainment district proposal from fall ballot


AURORA | City lawmakers put the brakes on a contentious referendum asking voters to create an entertainment district — and possibly a NASCAR track —  in the northeastern part of the city, killing the measure Thursday night.

At an emergency city council meeting, council representatives unanimously agreed to strike the referendum from the fall ballot.

Mayor Steve Hogan called the meeting at the request of councilwoman Sally Mounier, a chief sponsor of the measure that would end a ban against the city from cooperating with a possible race track project on a 1,700-acre plot of city-owned land near I-70 and Hudson Road.

Mounier said she asked to pull the proposal from the ballot because a critical campaign to pass the measure never materialized.

“Proponents of the amendment have informed the council that, due to an unexpected medical issue concerning their chief political strategist, their ability to run a campaign has been severely compromised,” the resolution said.

But before final passage of the resolution, councilman Charlie Richardson said that wording should be omitted along with the line stating, “the opportunity for a fair and balanced campaign where Aurora citizens are presented with accurate information on both sides of the issue no longer exists” because it was a matter of an opinion.

Five other council members agreed that wording should be taken out of the resolution.

A handful of citizens spoke in support of the resolution barring the ballot question at the highly unusual special meeting, which Hogan said he had difficulty remembering a previous time he’d called a similar meeting.

Among them was Ward I candidate Crystal Murillo who said she felt there was no guarantee an entertainment district would help her ward economically, and, above all, there was a lack of public engagement throughout the entire process.

Other city council members echoed that thought. Richardson and Councilwoman Marsha Berzins both said there needed to be more transparency about the ballot question if it were to be resurrected.

Mounier said she wasn’t happy about the question being removed from the ballot because she had been working on it for so long, but it was “what had to be done.

The Ward I councilwoman said she plans to resubmit the question for the 2019 ballot if she is re-elected to another term.

City council approved the measure in June despite ongoing criticism.

This summer the city was victorious in defending the ballot question in a lawsuit brought on by two attorneys that are residents in Aurora. The case had been appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, according to city attorney Mike Hyman. But with Thursday night’s action the appeal became “moot.” On Friday, Hyman said both parties in the suit filed a joint motion to withdraw the appeal.

A special meeting was called because council faced a Sept. 7 deadline to consider any action on the ballot and the next council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11.