Aurora City Council race draws early interest, endorsements


AURORA | If you’re suffering from election fatigue after the marathon 2020 cycle, buckle up. A slate of diverse candidates have already said they’ll jump into this year’s race for seats on the Aurora City Council.

Voters will pick candidates for five open seats in Nov. 2021. City clerk records from Feb. 11 obtained by the Sentinel showed five candidates had officially filed their intent to run for city council. At least two potential candidates had announced their plans to run as of Feb. 15 but hadn’t filed their paperwork yet. 

In north Aurora’s Ward I, Scott Liva intends to run in hopes of replacing progressive Crystal Murillo. Liva has not set up a campaign website or social media pages, and public information was not yet available. 

Murillo did not respond when asked whether she’s seeking re-election. 

Idris Keith, a lawyer and former Democratic candidate for an Arapahoe County Commission seat in Nov. 2020, is running to snag the council’s Ward II seat. It’s the council’s largest ward by square mileage, encompassing most of Aurora’s vast eastern half. Keith quickly jumped into the race for city council after Nicole Johnston announced she would not run for re-election last month. 

In central Aurora’s Ward III, self-described progressive Martha Lugo is taking another shot at capturing a city council seat.

Lugo ran unsuccessfully for Ward III in 2017 against the seat’s current inhabitant, Marsha Berzins, who is term-limited in 2021. Lugo also ran unsuccessfully for an at-large city council seat in in 2019. 

Meanwhile, two candidates with opposing ideologies have officially announced bids for at-large seats, which represent all of Aurora. 

Two at-large slots will be open in November: current at-large lawmaker Allison Hiltz also announced last month she will not run for re-election, opening up her seat; and Councilmember Dave Gruber is also up for re-election. He told the Sentinel he hasn’t decided whether he’ll defend his seat. 

In at-large races, the two candidates with the most votes are elected. 

As of Feb. 11, Dustin Zvonek and Adam Fung had filed their paperwork to run for at-large seats. 

Zvonek is a consultant who worked for years with statewide conservative political organizations. Notably, Zvonek worked in various leadership roles at Americans for Prosperity, the prominent political group formed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch that’s often rued by liberals. Zvonek also mulled a run for the state General Assembly as a Republican in 2010, according to campaign records. 

Fung is a progressive Democrat. According to his LinkedIn page, he has worked for seven years as a mail carrier for the United States Postal Service. He’s served on Aurora’s Human Rights Commission, a community engagement board, for more than a year. He says he’s a union activist. 

Meanwhile, leftist activist Candice Bailey said she’ll hop into the race for an at-large seat. 

Bailey is a vocal member of the city’s Community Police Task Force, where she’s fiercely advocated for police reforms and community oversight of the Aurora Police Department. She gained prominence last summer while helping lead massive marches in Aurora and Denver for racial justice and police reforms after co-founding the Frontline Party for Revolutionary Action. 

Her role landed her in the cross-sights of an Aurora police union, whose president told the Sentinel he wanted her criminally charged. No such charges were ever filed, although other leftists activists are facing decades in prison for their roles in protests.  

Danielle Jurinsky announced her plans to run for an at-large seat Feb. 15 in a press release to the Sentinel.

Jurinsky says she’s an Aurora native, Air Force veteran and a business owner. She’s currently a member of the city’s Citizens Budget Advisory Committee.

And John Ronquillo announced Feb. 22 he’s vying for an at-large seat. Outgoing councilmember Allison Hiltz endorsed him as her chosen successor. Ronquillo is an academic at CU Denver’s School of Public Affairs and a longtime board member for various local causes, including the Colorado COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project.

Ronquillo ran as a Democrat for Aurora’s state House District 40 last year but lost to now-Rep. Naquetta Ricks.

To get on the local ballot, candidates must submit petitions to the city. For ward candidates, 50 signatures are required. For at-large members, 100 signatures are required.

To become a candidate for city council, candidates must be: At least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen, an Aurora resident for at least one year prior to the election and ward candidates must have lived in that ward for at least one year.

People convicted of felonies are not permitted to run for the Aurora City Council per the city charter.

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Brent G Taylor
Brent G Taylor
2 years ago

One year residency? That’s a joke right?

Karen Smith
Karen Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Brent G Taylor

No joke. That’s why Dustin Zvonek made sure to move here TWO years before Mike helped get him on the council.

jeff brown
jeff brown
2 years ago

Attention Radically Pragmatic Independents: Your city needs you!

This city needs solutions — not hard-right and hard-left ideologues who’s sole purpose is to beat the opposition, climb their respective political ladders or win awards for being most faithful to the party.

The city’s retail economy fuels city services with sales tax and that sector was already headed over the falls long before COVID. Council has done nothing meaningful to change the downward trajectory. For example, there’s no solution for the growing $20 million backlog in street repair. Adding more homes is only worsening the problem as the level of city resources available per resident keeps falling–because too many are shopping and dining elsewhere and very few are coming to Aurora to spend or have fun.

FACT: Had Aurora’s retail sector merely reached Average in 2019, instead of 14% below, the the city would have collected $28 million in additional sales tax. Instead, our council could only bicker over largely trivial matters– like how many unrelated people can share a home or what breed of dog you can possess.

Last edited 2 years ago by jeff brown
2 years ago

I am curious why that last line about prohibiting felons from running is in there. Asking for a friend.

2 years ago

Hint… Bailey is a convicted felon.