EDITORIAL: Aurora City Council ruse to force vacancy election has nothing to do with honor

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Both the stakes and the buffoonery are sky high on the Aurora City Council, agonizing over how to fill a vacant council position — only until November.

Two weeks ago, city lawmakers became high-centered with a 5-5 vote along the city council’s solid political lines to fill a vacancy created by Ward II Councilwoman Nicole Johnston.

Johnston announced earlier this year she would not run for re-election this November. She announced in May she was moving to Colorado Springs and would leave the seat in June. The timing of her departure from city council requires the remaining council to appoint someone to her seat, holding the post until the November election.

For the past few years, the city council has moved steadily left on the political spectrum, reflecting the electorate. Two years ago, two solidly progressive candidates were handily elected to the city council, in one case outing an entrenched Republican incumbent.

Regularly, the council is sharply split on partisan and philosophical lines, creating what has become a fractured, often churlish and dysfunctional arm of city government.

The split on replacing Johnston — a solid progressive who championed critical reforms like oil-and-gas regulation, police reform and campaign transparency — played out like a dismal, predictable meme on American politics two weeks ago.

The stakes are unusually high because a handful of prime issues are reaching critical mass: homelessness, campaign reform and police reform. Had Johnston remained on the council through critical votes on these issues, the politically left faction on city council would most likely have prevailed on fundamental reforms.

Without another swing vote or nod from the left, many issues may be stymied by ties.

Republicans and members from the political right want to appoint Steve Sundberg, a long-time local tavern owner and registered Republican. Members on the left want to appoint Ryan Ross, a top-level college administrator and registered Democrat. Ross has made clear he seeks only to fill the vacancy through the election, and he will not run for that position. Sundberg announced his candidacy for Ward II long before Johnston stepped down.

Without doubt, Ross would carry the liberal torch until November. Sundberg, in city council interviews, hints that he would align with the council’s right on hot-button issues such as homelessness and police reform. Also unarguable is that the residents of Ward II, living in essentially northeast Aurora, have reliably moved politically to the left, just as much if not more so than almost all the rest of Aurora. Voter registrations and past elections are indisputable there.

Mayor Mike Coffman, a lifelong Republican who’s held numerous state and federal offices as a registered Republican, and other pronounced conservatives are trying to seize an opportunity to thwart voters and swing city council votes their way.

It’s a political ploy that has come to exemplify the dispiriting and disingenuous nature of American politics.

Members on the left have been searching for any mechanism they, too, can deploy to keep the seat voting in their favor.

Now, some city council members are leaning on the city attorney to attempt a clear end-run on the city charter, which is the municipal equivalent of a constitution. The charter unequivocally requires the city council to appoint someone to vacancy — now.

Some members on the right hope to kick the quagmire to voters by contorting city charter provisions, creating a dubious election within a couple of weeks.

It’s wrong ethically. It’s wrong legally. It’s wrong practically.

Conservatives regularly argue policy in light of “the will of the voters” and other populist maxims. The will of voters was crystal clear when they elected Johnston, when they registered as independent and Democrat voters far above that of Republicans. The will of the voters has been clear as they have reliably elected Democrats to the state House and Senate, to Congress and to the White House.

If the goal is to “honor the will of the voters,” Ross is the honorable vote to cast for the vacancy.

If the goal is to usurp that clear voter will, then persuade one more member of the existing city council to change their vote to Sundberg, or take a chance in drawing straws.

Either way, law-and-order Republicans need to abide by the city laws as they are ordered to in the city charter. Anything else is illegal cheating.

City council needs to follow the law today and appoint a new member to fill the vacancy and then create needed policy on some of the most critical issues Aurora has faced in generations.

 

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Joe Felice
Joe Felice
2 months ago

. . . taking their cue from our federal Congress, and not doing the job they were elected to do. As I see it, under parliamentary procedure, someone makes a motion to appoint one of the candidates. If the vote ends in a tie, then the Mayor votes to break the tie. We may not like it, but that’s the way it is supposed to work. How-much damage could one person possibly do in 4 months? I mean, really, people!

Doug King
Doug King
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

It’s 5-5 that’s the problem. With Coffman’s vote.

Dale G Nichols
Dale G Nichols
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug King

Doug, read Joe’s post again. “If the vote ends in a tie, then the Mayor votes to break the tie.” (Emphasis added)
Without Mike’s vote initially, and with an odd number of current members, there could be no tie.

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
2 months ago

1. “Also unarguable is that the residents of Ward II, living in essentially northeast Aurora, have reliably moved politically to the left, just as much if not more so than almost all the rest of Aurora. Voter registrations and past elections are indisputable there.”

False. The only indisputable fact is that the left had better success getting their people to the polls. Those who voted do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the entire ward.

“The will of voters was crystal clear when they elected Johnston.”

Again, false. We have no way to know whether voters elected Johnston because she was a “progressive” or because she was the least bad of a poor crop, whether it was because she was the only white woman running, or myriad other possible reasons. Her political affiliation is only one factor for most people, but that’s the only common DNA with Ross.

Dale G Nichols
Dale G Nichols
2 months ago
  1. That’s the way it works in the U.S.A. Those residents who show up to vote get to decide.
  2. So it’s a difference in DNA that disqualifies Dr. Ross in your mind? I wonder what that difference could be. Hmmm?
FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
2 months ago
Reply to  Dale G Nichols

DNA in the colloquial sense. Commonality. “… the fundamental and distinctive characteristics or qualities of someone or something.” But good job going to a racist place, if that’s what you mean.

Frank2525
Frank2525
1 month ago
Reply to  Dale G Nichols

Not really, Dale. Did you not note how often Steney Hoyer came out to Colorado, and since Obama announced years ago he was campaigning for President, from Denver Stadium. And Pot became legal, with Fractionating in Energy business, we got a very unhealthy wealth poured into our election system.
How else would we have gained Jason Crow for 6th District who talked his 4 years in 82d Aborne (Middle East) into being a Veteran so much more desirable for 6th District ? I also noted the training classes by Leftists, to fill our city council. And immediately they went out for demonstrations to remove a Federal Employment Facility, that was in business her for over 30 (or more) years. Employed over 73 local employees, all working, paying taxes, many home owners, and all paying taxes, since rent includes the taxes charged to owner of property. WHAT COULD GO WRONG WITH THAT? Note, we have many carpet baggers who moved from Denver just before election, or soon after. COINCIDENCE?

Frank2525
Frank2525
2 months ago

I live in Ward II, bought here in 1963. Saw all the changes, and worked to make Aurora better. I say someone nominate Sundberg, (who lives and works among us), and if tie vote ensues, then Mike Coffman breaks the tie. Period. I have supported Mike since 1991, when I first met him, and became involved with Aurora Politics, and Neighborhood Watch, for 2 blocks, and also have been involved actively in getting the Fitzsimons Nursing home built, and also served as officer and member of retired military organizations, and was Secretary for UVC (Veterans) for entire state of Colorado 2001-2005. Only age and health, slowed me in recent years. Mike has filled every position possible in Colorado. First as Army service, then Marine Officer after attending college, retiring from Marines, and then being recalled several times (while State Treasurer of Colorado). He went to Middle East to assist them in writing constitution, and set up elections. Was a state Representative, then State Treasurer, then State Secretary, then completing several terms as Federal Representative, very active in getting new VAMC built, and paid for. (Lot of folks came along at end, to take credit), but I know who did the heavy lifting in 1991 through the building years. Changes of Presidents, and Legislative folks in Washington, including some VA officials who opposed us, and the effort, as well as all of Denver folks. HELLO.

Dale G Nichols
Dale G Nichols
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank2525

That would be fine with me since it would result in a 5-4 win for the candidate I prefer, but the charter says otherwise.

Frank2525
Frank2525
1 month ago
Reply to  Dale G Nichols

This is a bit different type vote by council. And since Progressives bypass or ignore USA constitution, and decide based on their own opinions, I am willing to give them the same here. I say go with the tie vote, and since Mike COFFMAN WAS BORN IN AURORA OF MILITARY FAMILY, SERVED IN ARMY AND MARINES, WAS RECALLED 3 TIMES TO MIDDLE EAST TO HELP THEM TRY TO FORM CONSTITUTION, and has been a very reliable Colorado Officer in every State position, other than Governor, I am willing to let experience of Col. (retl.) Gruber and Coffman experience, overrided that of the carpet bagger trainees, who did not have prior experience of that significance. Newcomers may not know of their experiences as Commanders in Military, both retired as such. I go with experience.
And I am speaking (writing) with 26 years military experience, lifetime of working since age 14 to recent years, and Colorado Citizen since 1963, when I returned from Goose Bay, Labrador (during Cuban blockade) to keep Russian Missiles out of Cuba. First came to Colorado in 1951, for technical training, and married Denver woman in 1952. My children went to schools in Aurora 1963, now are 67, and 65. And the taxes I have paid, with military also paying for my children in addition in that period, l am not ready to concede Aurora to more newcomers, who were not here, when city built out more.
——-Know newcomers become citizens as soon as they get a job, or get on welfare rolls, in Colorado, but their vote is tainted. Okay?

Doug King
Doug King
2 months ago

Coffman shouldn’t be voting anyhow.

Doug King
Doug King
2 months ago

next meeting when the City Council minutes are available f
7. Right of Mayor to Vote. Pursuant to Charter Section 3-2, the Mayor shall not be entitled 
to cast a vote upon any resolution or ordinance or amendments thereto unless it is to 
create or break a tie vote. However, the Mayor is entitled to vote on motions including 
motions regarding parliamentary procedure concerning a resolution or ordinance.

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug King

An appointment is not a resolution or ordinance or amendment. You are wrong.

Frank2525
Frank2525
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug King

“resolution or ordinance”. This vote is whole different ball game. We had a time when Mayor held meetings with a revolver on table, in front of him. Do we really want to go back to that? (I asked Paul Tauer if he had done that too, and he laughed, and replied “would have made some meetings more peaceable”.

Dennis Duffy
Dennis Duffy
2 months ago

Buffoonery…… It takes awhile to realize what this so called editorial board really is all about, but In this case buffoonery applies equally to them as well as ALL the council members.
I get tired of your poorly disguised hateful rhetoric.

Gregory Albrecht
2 months ago

Looks like we have to start thinking about going back to duels.

DICK MOORE
2 months ago

This “fish wrapper”, what Dave Perry call the Sentinel is at least consistent in their wrong, hateful words against anything conservative. This editorial continues their misunderstanding of life in Aurora.

I wonder when the socialists will start sending them money that the Sentinel so much begs for frequently. Seems they are not getting much, if any, from conservatives.

Frank2525
Frank2525
1 month ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Thank you, Dick Moore. So inciteful. What I told Perry many years ago, he would never be a reporter, since he was so biased. He has never written a positive column for a Republican, unless they died, or had left public office. Little did I know, he would be left to be editor, after Rocky Mountain News, and Denver Post , both went south. Post still exists, but not so much, outside of Denver limits. There was more honesty, when both papers existed, and competed. Then we got both sides of issues, and we could make informed, adult decisions. That was before drugs and fractionating came to Colorado.