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June 15, 2023 10:00 AM UTC

Mayor Mike's Silly Secrecy Over Power Grab Speaks Volumes

  • by: Colorado Pols
Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman with “Mini-Mike,” City Councillor Dustin Zvonek.

Former Republican Congressman-turned Mayor of Aurora Mike Coffman, as we’ve documented in this space over a period of years since Coffman won his current office in 2019 on the rebound from being ousted from Congress, has been on a long-term mission to stack the Aurora City Council with partisan Republicans–and even a former employee, now-Councillor Dustin Zvonek. In order to openly support his favored candidates for city council like Zvonek, as readers will recall, Coffman had to sue to overturn a local law that prohibited Coffman from funneling money to Zvonek’s campaign.

The next step in Coffman’s plodding power grab, as 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger reported last night, is to change Aurora’s city government to a so-called “strong mayor” system from the current city manager-led model. We assume this means that Coffman himself is running for re-election this November, which itself hasn’t been formally announced but is generally expected. But despite the origin and benefactor of this campaign being as plain as day, Team Coffman still sees value in caginess about what’s going on:

A hush-hush effort to give the Aurora mayor more power, like Denver’s mayor.

Hush-hush because it is not quite clear who is really behind the effort to ask voters to change Aurora from a form of government where the city manager has the power, to a form of government giving the mayor more power…

When we asked an Aurora city spokesman if it was Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, Coffman passed along the message, “I will comment if and when it makes the ballot.”

GOP multitool and former Coffman staffer Tyler Sandberg.

Here’s the problem with Coffman pretending to be an innocent bystander in this effort:

Aurora’s city manager recently retired, and now an effort is being made by three Aurora residents to try to put the mayor in charge of administrative decisions instead of continuing with a city manager.

However, when we tried to reach those three residents, we either did not hear from them or got directed to Tyler Sandberg, the spokesman for the group “Term Limits for a Better Aurora.”

…Sandberg is a former campaign manager for Congressman Mike Coffman, and would not say if Mayor Mike Coffman is behind this effort. [Pols emphasis]

The moment we read longtime Republican operative and former top Coffman campaign staffer Tyler Sandberg’s name, it was game over in terms of trying to hide Coffman’s involvement. Sandberg would not be running a campaign to give the Mayor of Aurora more power without Coffman’s explicit permission and more likely direct coordination, and to play dumb about this is as ridiculous as suggesting that Dustin Zvonek isn’t on the city council to provide an unquestioning additional vote for Coffman. In both cases, Coffman is in a position to order these minions around.

Is any of this illegal? We’re not lawyers to say for sure. But to maintain this thin pretense of secrecy when it’s patently obvious this is a coordinated effort discredits the entire campaign. It leaves the impression that Coffman doesn’t want the voters to know what he’s plotting, even though he’s using his former employee to carry out the plot. If you know the players and the context, these evasions are an insult to the intelligence of Aurora voters.

Especially after the results in Colorado Springs’ mayoral race literally shocked the globe, the stakes are higher than ever in this year’s Aurora municipal elections. Mayor Mike’s Aurora represents one of Colorado’s very last Republican centers of power, and while the rest of the state has moved leftward in the past few elections Coffman has been carving out this unlikely suburban haven for Republicans. Aurora, after all, is the state’s most racially and economically diverse major city–making Republican control even more of an anomaly. Much like Councillor Steve Sundberg’s racist costumes, it’s just not a good fit.

This bumbled attempt at secrecy betrays their fear of losing everything.


2 thoughts on “Mayor Mike’s Silly Secrecy Over Power Grab Speaks Volumes

  1. “I misspoke and I apologize. . . . I misspoke and I apologize. . . . I misspoke and I apologize. . .”

    Stay the course Representative Mayor shorter Coffman, some day the [Aurora] voters will also thank you!

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