RYAN ROSS: City lawmakers failed Aurora with a purely partisan vacancy hustle

Aurora City Council votes to fill the Ward II vacancy during a meeting that began weeks ago before deciding to continue the meeting twice. After about 150 votes through meetings into July, they failed to break tie votes and table the vacancy mission, violating the city’s charter. SCREENSHOT

Fellow Aurorans and friends, I am good.  

Thank you all for checking in after I applied for the City Council Ward II vacancy and was the subject of dozens of votes and hours of debate that ended in a stalemate, and not my appointment.

I apologize that this process silenced your voice. Fellow vacancy applicants, thank you for putting yourselves out there to fill this vacancy, and I’m sorry it was time spent in vain. 

City Council Ward II appointee candidate Ryan Ross

I submitted my application and communicated with each council member. I shared about myself and asked for the opportunity to meet with them to get to know me and learn what I’m about. I want to learn what matters for them in this city.

I wish I could report that Mayor Mike Coffman and council members all provided me with the professional courtesy to meet to make an informed selection for the residents of Aurora and Ward II specifically. 

Councilmembers Angela Lawson, Juan Marcano, Allison Hiltz, Alison Coombs, and Crystal Murillo, thank you for responding to my emails, meeting with me, and for your integrity in this process.  I know the votes you cast were informed by your questions and our discussions about my beliefs, the review of my application, and direct questions where you wanted clarity.  Councilman Curtis Gardner, thank you for being the only Republican on the city council to meet with me.

The last eight weeks have been quite the process.  The community forum was outstanding. Members of Ward II asked questions about Aurora, the candidate’s abilities and genuinely wanted to know our approach to serving Aurora.

The interview with the city council wasn’t a rewarding experience. The meeting was led by a mayor who refused to address me as Dr. Ross. Many of the questions focused on personal policy projects, the defense of the police department, and very little about Ward II or how the city council could work together to answer the many challenges facing Aurora.

During the interview, I understood that this process was not about Ward II but rather the agenda and beliefs of specific individuals.

I showed up. I gave 100%.  My supporters and I believe I was the most prepared candidate for the forum, interview and the most qualified to step in and serve immediately.  Despite this, my active engagement in Aurora, Councilwoman Nicole Johnston’s endorsement, my credentials, and 20 years of community and professional experience, I wasn’t given the opportunity to serve my community as a temporary city councilperson. 

What I received was people who disrespected and discounted me through most of this process. My experience was not that of “by the people for the people.” It was not meritocracy. It was not democracy and it definitely wasn’t the Aurora many of us are fighting to create. I received a clear message that “we” are not interested in seeing “you,” hearing from you, or working in collaboration with you.

Maybe it was because another candidate’s handwritten application was clearer than my typed application.

Maybe it’s because the Republicans chose not to read my application and references, just like they chose not to meet with me or respond to my emails.

Maybe it is because I’m a Black male. 

Maybe it’s because they were never going to vote for me in any scenario.

Who knows? I do know it had nothing to do with the people of Ward II or our best interest.   

Aurora, together what we witnessed was posturing for political positioning, dereliction of duty, partisanship, and abuse of the power we have temporarily bestowed on our elected officials.

The voters were ignored as a matter of convenience, and the responsibility to ensure Aurorans have the appropriate representation has been abandoned. 

This process was about flexing power, not purpose. This “nonpartisan” body’s focus is all about being partisan. This was about partisan people obsessed with control, afraid of differing views, and, unfortunately, displaying a narrow view and vision for Aurora. 

A council appointment from members who refuse to engage with you and, behind the scenes, label you a “radical socialist” with too many activist friends for their liking (yes, this happened) proved to be intolerable.

But their roadblock is not my barrier. Appointment or not, my service continues because a title doesn’t make a leader. Service in the interest of people does.

I intended to join a group of truly nonpartisan community members charged with serving in the community’s interest and ensuring equity throughout the entire community. Despite the chaos on this city council, I was hopeful that humanity, rather than power, would be the North Star.

I was wrong.

In over 150 rounds of voting, the question, “How do we get this done?” wasn’t answered. At midnight on July 30, 2021, The Aurora City Council set a new precedent of breaking the city charter. It sent the message that rules are only suggestions to be broken when inconvenient. Does this mean that the Charter only applies when it’s convenient? Is this the leadership look we want to exhibit?

The challenges and treatment I faced aren’t as critical as Aurora’s City Council’s role modeling criminal behavior.  It is clear our “nonpartisan” council drew a line in the sand and chose to break the law rather than find a way to honor it, the City Charter, the very constitution of Aurora.

The choice was embracing the privilege of a potential fine and no real consequences over serving Aurora. I shudder at the audacity of our elected leaders choosing dereliction of duty instead of service in the community’s interest. 

The final decision to break the law and postpone the vote indefinitely was cowardly, selfish, and a display of failed leadership. The city council wasted everyone’s time with a mindless voting transaction rather than embracing their responsibility and approaching the vacancy process from a solution-oriented mindset.

While a “No” vote for me is perfectly fine, I would love to know the source of it within this process? 

Listening to people who never took any time to connect with me in any capacity vote against me with such passion and intention was interesting. Doesn’t it make you wonder what fueled the endless “no’s?” Was it party? Politics? Something about me personally?  Who knows?  But it wasn’t the people, because they know nothing about me to share with any constituent. 

This council shouldn’t be OK with managing our lives, needs, and resources necessary to thrive like a game of roulette or chess.  The management should come from the will of the people and policies we create. If a policy doesn’t work, then change it, but don’t disregard it because it doesn’t work for you, and then try to hold others accountable to the process next month to jail our under-housed and malnourished neighbors.

This experience is a reminder of how a person in power can leverage privilege to impact a community negatively. A change must come, and we can start at the ballot box this November.

Municipal election turnout is historically low, and we end up with a government that represents the few. Folks, this isn’t about me. It’s about how we want to be treated, represented and a reminder that we must hold accountable those we empower to serve.

Ryan Ross, PhD, is Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Equity and Inclusion at Colorado Community College System, and a longtime regional activist. He was nominated to fill a Ward II vacancy on the Aurora City Council last in June.

 

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None
None
1 month ago

Ross is openly a racist period that is why

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago
Reply to  None

It is so easy to toss that word around, but I’m sure you were present when the votes were taken and know this for a fact.

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
1 month ago

Such sour grapes. A man of integrity would have taken his defeat with dignity, instead of taking cheap shots at the council and even fellow candidates for the appointment

Where did you learn that any applications were hand-written? Seems pretty inside information, if true. I am also curious how many of the democrat socialists and progressives on the council sat with Mr. Sundberg, I’m guessing none.

Whining and race-baiting is unbecoming, if not expected from someone who makes their living peddling “equity.” Bemoaning the process as “not a meritocracy” is pretty hypocritical, considering you don’t apply that filter to the rest of your existence. Go away now.

Kara Mason
Admin
Kara Mason
1 month ago

Managing editor and city reporter here with a quick note! Full applications were actually publicly available and in the city council back up all along. For future reference: https://www.auroragov.org/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17879247

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago

You would like everyone who doesn’t agree with you to disappear. We wish you would do the same. You’re too transparent.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
1 month ago

Given your screen name it’s odd that your post is entirely “feelings” with nary a fact in sight.

Such a snowflake.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago

All very-correctly and accurately stated! But I would like someone to tell us when you became a member of the Socialist Party.

Dennis Duffy
Dennis Duffy
1 month ago

Don’t take this personally, sometimes things just dont work out the way you think they should.You just got caught in the middle of this squabble don’t presume it is because of your race, I doubt that really had much to do with it, you know it was based upon your cultural perspective. Your beliefs should support you, don’t be discouraged, simply move forward. I might not agree with many of the views you enjoy but that doesn’t mean I hate you or that I should feel superior in some stilted way. It just means many people don’t think like you do… good luck and be safe.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
1 month ago

Dr. Ross, First. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address only ran 270 words in length and changed the world.

Second, you, the other candidates, the CMs and the mayor are all victims of the duopolistic oligarchy that defines politics in America today. The two party system serves the wealthy donors first. Then the bipolar media, political consultants and lobbyists. Solutions don’t matter…only defeating a singular evil enemy that they define.

Want to change things? Withdraw from the parties–but stay involved.