Being elected by Ward II constituents was one of the biggest privileges and responsibilities of my life. I ran for office because Ward II deserved the best representation of putting constituent needs’ first. My focus was to be accessible, available and to bring ethics, transparency and accountability to our local government.
In April, I announced my resignation from the Aurora City Council. It was incredibly difficult to leave before my term ended in December. However, with the new job I had since February, the commute back and forth between Aurora and Colorado Springs between my childrens’ dad and me, it all had taken a toll. With my children starting high school and middle school and the challenges that go along with that, I had to prioritize what was best for them and move to Colorado Springs.
I resigned June 14th. After working together for two years, Dr. Ryan Ross was ready to serve the constituents for the remainder of my term. In November, the voters will choose who they want to represent them.
Unfortunately, last night, Mike Coffman, who won his seat by 200 votes, had a victory. When I was on the City Council, which is supposed to be non-partisan, I rarely publicly called out what party someone was affiliated with. This entire process has demonstrated extreme partisanship so I will call it as I see it.
Mike Coffman and the Republicans on the City Council blocked Dr. Ross from serving. Mr. Sundberg, a person I would never support because our values do not align, who donated to President Trump’s 2016 election campaign and is in lock step with Mike Coffman, was who the Republicans wanted to serve Ward II. An appointment would have given him the advantage of incumbency since he is running for election in November. Fortunately, Councilmembers Lawson, Hiltz, Murillo, Coombs and Marcano prevented that from happening. The city charter is now violated and Ward II does not have equitable representation as the other wards.
Where do we go from here? Ward II has several candidates and until the end of August when the process of getting on the ballot is official, there will still be more people who could enter. The municipal election in November means we have five seats open that include Wards I, II, III and two At Large. Check out the Campaign Finance Reports that will be out next week, see who Mike Coffman is endorsing and think carefully about who would represent his special interests and would be beholden to him or who would represent our neighbors.
I still hold out hope that good people can be in office and good work can be done but we have to do more than vote. Get involved. Aurora is where you live and you deserve the best representation.
Nicole Johnston is the former Ward II Aurora city councilmember and lives in Colorado Springs.