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August 08, 2023 03:22 PM UTC

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman: More Burger than King

  • by: Colorado Pols
And he shall lord overeth Aurora henceforth and forevermore.

We wrote last week about Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman’s embarrassingly ham-handed communications strategy revolving around his idea to turn the City of Aurora into a “strong mayor” government with — SURPRISE — Coffman himself as Aurora’s new supreme leader.

Both the petition that got the “strong mayor” idea on the November ballot, and Coffman’s involvement, were shrouded in see-through secrecy. Coffman refused to comment on the potential ballot measure until enough petition signatures had been collected; once that time came, Coffman was more than happy to explain that this was all his idea in the first place (which anyone with half of a brain assumed already). Coffman’s specific explanation for the reason behind the subterfuge was typically tone-deaf:

“Well, I made a decision that it wasn’t an issue until it made the ballot. That was a decision I made. I’m certainly free to comment on it now, in terms of what my position was, [and] why I think it was important for the city to take this direction.” 

Yada, yada, yada.

Meanwhile, some Aurora residents have long criticized the proposed ballot measure for unclear language that would lead some people to initially believe it was all about term limits instead of granting the Mayor of Aurora more power. Coffman’s response to THOSE concerns was even worse than his previous answer:

“Well, I’m certainly sorry if they felt that way. I think, that, um, nothing, you know, precludes one’s responsibility to read the ballot language.”

Fool you once, shame on…you?

Via The Aurora Sentinel (6/23/23)

As Max Levy reports for The Aurora Sentinel, several local residents are not content to be casually chided by Mayor Coffman:

Opponents of a pending ballot initiative that would restructure Aurora’s city government by creating a “strong-mayor” system have filed a lawsuit against three Aurora residents who were asked by Mayor Mike Coffman to sign paperwork initiating the proposal.

The lawsuit, filed Aug. 5 in Arapahoe County District Court, claims that the ballot initiative violates state and city election laws because of unclear and misleading ballot and petition language.

It asks the court to force proponents to rewrite much of the proposal title and summary. If opponents prevail, the ballot proposal may go forward, but only using new language for the title and the summary.

[mantra-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”60%”]“Many signers were misled to believe this was a term limits measure for city council, when in truth all the other language is an elaborate misdirection so that Mike Coffman can populate city government with some of the political friends he has accumulated over his 40 years in politics.”

 — Charlie Richardson, former Aurora City Council member and vocal opponent of Mayor Coffman’s “strong mayor” ballot measure.[/mantra-pullquote]

Plaintiff Charlie Richardson, who previously served as an Aurora City Council member as well as the city attorney and city manager, has plenty of experience to back up his concerns. Richardson says his lawsuit was being funded by a “broad-based group” that includes members of the business community as well as more than 100 individual donors.

When Coffman’s ballot measure was initially introduced to the public in May, it was sold as primarily a measure to reduce term limits from 12 to 8 years (Coffman is seeking re-election in November to his second four year term as Mayor). The “strong mayor” part was almost a side note, say opponents. Back to the Sentinel:

As written, the measure seeks to scrap Aurora’s council-manager form of government and instead change it to a so-called “strong-mayor” system. Although many of the details are unclear, if voters passed the measure, the victor of this fall’s election would assume the new, empowered position in January… 

…The Richardson lawsuit claims that the strong-mayor proposal violates parts of the state and city election law requiring the ballot title and summary of the measure to accurately reflect the contents of the ordinance. [Pols emphasis]

From the time the measure was first offered to voters by paid petition canvassers, some signers have complained that canvassers misrepresented the measure, telling them it pertained primarily or exclusively to increasing city council term limitations.

Aurora voters probably trust the “Burger King” more than they trust Mayor Mike Coffman at this point.

For obvious reasons, Coffman didn’t want to talk about how the “strong mayor” issue WAS HIS IDEA IN THE FIRST PLACE (although his ideas apparently didn’t include fairly important details).

For equally-obvious reasons, Coffman and his advisers, including longtime spokesperson Tyler Sandberg, would rather voters believe that this particular ballot measure is a discussion about term limits.

The end result of all this sloppy subterfuge has been to raise the antennae of Aurora voters in questioning the true motives of its elected Mayor. Should the opposition campaign succeed in its lawsuit, that will likely put the ballot measure issue to bed.

Whatever happens, Coffman has eroded enough trust that he may find it hard to make a compelling case for his own re-election in November.


5 thoughts on “Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman: More Burger than King

  1. I don’t live in Aurora, so I claim no experience in living there. But I’ll never understand the thinking of voters who vote for someone so against their own best interest, over and over again.

    Hopefully this will be the thing that finally unites voters to get rid of this useless leech.

  2. This whole episode so far should be in the running for "Political Miscalculation Of 2023." King Shorter Coffman looked particularly bad in a recent TV interview with Zelinger, sort of giggling about fair questions regarding his donations to the ballot measure campaign as if he was a child thinking he was getting away with something.

    Of course, it remains to be seen what voters will do.

    1. What Coffman has going for him: as a Congressperson, he had excellent staff. His office was known for great constituent service. And he took credit for construction of the new VA hospital, even though he was often an obstacle to it, using hospital construction as an opportunity for partisan scolding and self-promotion. 

      His staff ( poach them, somebody!) has also done well at reaching out to Aurora's many immigrant communities, even though Coffman's own positions on immigration are knee-jerk Trumpisms.

      However, as Mayor of Aurora, what he is known for are : a 214 vote win over his opponent, cheap showboating as a fake homeless person, stacking City Council with his allies, and uncritical backing of the police union.

      It seems to me that a multiracial, multiethnic, "good government" coalition should be able to unseat this cocky Trumpuppet with a decent GOTV drive.

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