EDITORIAL: Aurora’s new mayor and changing guard bring perfect opportunities

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Aurora leaders have an opportunity to change the course of a city losing its way.

Beginning next week, Aurora will have a new mayor and a new city council. While the majority of city lawmakers will be incumbents, two new members won their council seats on a platform of pursuing change. Their election alters the balance of power on the city council to a majority that has made clear they want to see revision.

For the past few years, Aurora lawmakers have veered from where a majority of this diverse and vibrant city want it to go. Aurora residents have increasingly voted for candidates willing to ensure Aurora’s culturally rich and diverse community is strengthened and protected. Voters have made clear they demand more transparency from its government. They want accountability from police and city lawmakers alike.

We think the latest election will deliver on that.

There’s also great opportunity coming from Mike Coffman assuming the role of mayor.

Aurora’s top elected position is an unusual one. The mayor rarely votes on legislation, only breaking ties. The mayor is not an administrator. That’s the job of the city’s manager and deputy managers.

The mayor’s job is pretty much what he or she wants it to be.

Given what Coffman said when he was vying for the position, Aurora stands to benefit greatly from where he hopes to go.

Coffman was unfairly tagged during the election with his past position of congressman on a host of issues. The Sentinel has pushed hard against Coffman’s past partisan votes and takes on gay rights, gun control and health care.

But The Sentinel has also backed Coffman’s position on pragmatic government, managing TABOR, solving DACA and reforming the VA.

Coffman deserves an opportunity to reveal to residents and the city council what his decades of government experience looks like in a non-partisan realm.

During the campaign, Coffman stressed the need to solve long-standing Aurora transportation problems made worse by inadequate RTD services. He talked about finding a way to integrate more bike and non-traditional ways of getting around into a city built only for cars. Coffman stressed the need to look hard at a city that has often catered to aging residents. He recognizes that a flood of younger people have different ideas about city housing and amenities that Aurora needs to focus on.

But more than anything, Coffman brings real-world bipartisan negotiating skills honed from years in Congress and the state Legislature to a fractured city council.

That council will now boast a majority of lawmakers who demand more transparency, more accountability and more control over a wide range of issues. Those issues include gas and oil development, housing, independent review of police and how the city council handles itself.

These lawmakers are fortunate to take the helm of a city that is run by dedicated professionals and is fiscally and structurally sound because of that.

While police management is struggling with transparency and policy problems, the rank-and-file officers and firefighters are dedicated and talented people who can be trusted by everyone.

This is an opportunity for both sides of this polarized entity to find common ground on what is a shared goal of most members of city council: making Aurora a safer, more enjoyable and more benevolent city for everyone who lives and works here.

We have confidence that Coffman in his new role and the city council with its new direction will be able to move the city where the vast majority of residents want it to go. And we’re certain a new faction on the city council will provide the leadership voters have called for.

It’s time for everyone to give that goal a new chance.