AURORA | Preliminary results of the 2023 election showed Aurora voters opposing a proposed change to the city’s charter that would replace the city’s ban on people with any felony convictions running for City Council with a ban targeting convictions for crimes related to corruption.
Around 59.1% of voters had weighed in against the change, as of Friday.
A court previously ruled the city’s current ban is unconstitutional and thus unenforceable, while the state’s constitution disqualifies candidates who have been convicted of the crimes enumerated in the proposed ban, making Ballot Question 3A more or less a formality with no impact on city policy.
George Koumantakis, an attorney for the city, told the City Council during a meeting in June that the item had to go on the fall ballot for the city to comply with a district court order regarding the ban.
Aurora’s charter states in part that “a person who has been convicted of a felony shall not become a candidate for nor hold elective office.”
Candice Bailey — an Aurora activist leader who in 1999 was convicted of second-degree assault and sentenced to two years in prison — challenged the charter rule last year with the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union.
In March, 18th Judicial District Judge John Scipione sided with Bailey and the ACLU, saying that generally disqualifying felons from holding office violated the state’s constitution.
The proposed charter change would have added language disqualifying candidates who have been convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, perjury, solicitation of bribery or subornation of perjury, rather than all felons.
City spokesman Ryan Luby later wrote in an email that the city has not decided whether the matter would be brought to voters again.
“While Aurora voters have the sole authority to amend the city charter and may wish to keep unenforceable provisions in charter language, the court can place limits on how charter provisions are applied,” he wrote.
“As a result, even with a failed vote on 3A, the situation would remain unchanged. Only people convicted of embezzlement of public monies, bribery, perjury, solicitation of bribery, or subornation of perjury would be ineligible to hold public office.”