The Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy bookends a story we’ve been following out of Greeley ever since last November’s municipal elections–Eddie Mirick, a Republican city council candidate lavishly supported by oil and gas “dark money” group Vital for Colorado, will not take office after a judge determined that a felony conviction on Mirick’s record violates the city charter’s qualifications to serve.
Replacing Mirick on the Greeley City Council, as Silvy reports, is his opponent in last November’s elections, Stacy Suniga:
Stacy Suniga’s campaign for a Greeley City Council seat is finally complete more than two months after Election Day, as the council on Tuesday voted to appoint Suniga to the council seat vacated by her opponent, convicted felon Eddie Mirick…
Suniga will be sworn in Tuesday to serve as the city council’s at-large representative until November 2019, when she’ll be able to run for election.
More than 7,000 Greeley residents voted for Suniga on Nov. 7, about 300 fewer than voted for Mirick just days after The Tribune first reported Mirick’s criminal past…
The Greeley City Charter says the council must appoint someone to fill a vacant seat, but it doesn’t prescribe a process.
Just a few months ago, the council took applications and conducted interviews. But with the shadow of the city’s failure to properly vet Mirick still hanging over the council, members chose to immediately appoint Suniga.
Normally-sleepy Greeley city council races became hotly controversial last fall after a local front group wholly funded by energy industry political group Vital for Colorado spent tens of thousands of dollars to blast three candidates who had received $500 each from Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder. With Polis running for governor in 2018, the oil and gas industry seized on his small donations as a proxy experiment–to see if Polis’ brand could be toxified in a town where the industry has a lot of clout.
The industry’s disproportionate spending in favor of Mirick was able to swing this race by 300 votes, after the Tribune reported on the felony conviction too late to change the course of a mail-ballot election in which many voters cast their ballots well before Election Day. But as soon as it became clear that Mirick had no backup for his claims that this felony conviction had been reduced to a misdemeanor, things started to unravel quickly despite the city council’s initial failure to take action.
Today, it’s obvious that both the Greeley City Council and the oil and gas industry’s premiere statewide political action group erred severely in failing to adequately vet Mirick’s record–the industry after supporting him in the election, and then the council for failing to act on news reports documenting Mirick’s unfitness to serve. The first-round appointment of Suniga to the seat and the refund of legal costs to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed due to the city’s inaction are the clearest possible admissions of how badly the city of Greeley dropped the ball.
As for Vital for Colorado? They did their reputation, and their agenda, no favors either.