The Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason reports on the continuing and maybe illegal deadlock of the Aurora City Council on the matter of appointing a new city councilman to replace councilwoman Nicole Johnston, who resigned last month to take a job in Colorado Springs:
An attempt to appoint a candidate to the Ward II vacancy spanned a third city council meeting Monday, stretching late into the night and into the next day before the lawmakers decided after 3 a.m. to pause the meeting until July 29 at 6:30 p.m…
Council members voted nearly 100 times, essentially along party lines, between candidates Republican Steve Sundberg, who owns a local tavern, and Democrat Ryan Ross, who facilitated the police reform task force, before arriving at the decision.
Council members Francoise Bergan, Marsha Berzins, Dave Gruber, Curtis Gardner and Mayor Mike Coffman once again voted for Sundberg, while council members Alison Coombs, Allison Hiltz, Crystal Murillo, Angela Lawson and Juan Marcano once again backed Ross.
The extreme difficulty the Aurora City Council is having replacing Johnston, a left-leaning member of the nominally nonpartisan body, reveals the closely-divided state of the council under former GOP congressman turned-Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman. With partisan lines in full view despite the nonpartisan pretense, the appointment of Coffman’s favored candidate Steve Sundberg would have the effect of immediately flipping the city council to a Coffman-friendly de facto Republican majority.
The council is up against a July 29 deadline to make the appointment, and the Sentinel reports that an opinion is coming as early as today on whether missing that deadline violates the city charter. Especially if the impasse if eventually resolved in the favor of Sundberg’s opponent Ryan Ross, all attention will turn immediately to the election in November where five seats are up, including the closely watched at-large race in which Coffman’s former congressional aide Dustin Zvonek is running with masks-off GOP support.
After Coffman barely won his fallback job as Aurora Mayor on the rebound from losing his seat in Congress the previous year, he’s been effectively stymied in his attempts to conservatize Colorado’s largest suburban city by a progressive City Council not inclined to turn Aurora into a conservative policy petri dish. But it’s increasingly evident that this check on Coffman’s designs for Aurora is gossamer thin–and Coffman means to do away with any impediments sooner or (not that much) later.
The more Aurora voters understand about these emerging high stakes in the upcoming city council elections, the better for everyone except Mike Coffman. Zvonek prefers to keep it on the down-low too.