Proposal to list political party affiliations on Aurora city council ballots falls flat

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DAWN | When Aurora voters fill out the ballots this year, as with all previous municipal elections, they will see a list of candidates, each with no political party affiliation.

“Not having a party affiliation on the ballot is actually an information barrier for some people, and that’s a big part of why we’re seeing a drop in turnout. electoral, ”said Juan Marcano, member of Aurora’s city council this week, throwing a question for the 2022 poll that would ask the Aurorans if political parties should include a candidate’s name on the ballot.

“And if any of you knocked on doors this cycle – I’ve knocked almost 400 doors already, and north of 3,000 for myself in 2019 – that’s one of the most currents that I get at the gates and I’m sure the same is true for all of you, ”he said.

Marcano, a Democrat himself, proposed the ballot question which, if passed, would also allow vacancy committees to appoint a member to a vacant city council seat, much like the state does. Instead of the remaining members voting to fill the seat, political parties would take responsibility, potentially avoiding a situation that has left a member on Aurora city council.

Earlier this year, following the resignation of former board member Nicole Johnston, Marcano implored his colleagues to appoint someone who would hold the same values ​​as Johnston. Instead, the remaining 10 members were at a stalemate along predominantly partisan lines between two candidates. Without a majority vote, councilors ultimately decided to violate the city’s charter and leave the siege open for the remainder of Johnston’s term.

Aurora City Council is no stranger to partisan politics, despite the non-partisan nature of the election. Some council members and candidates have held or run for high-level political seats in the past, such as Mayor Mike Coffman, who was elected in 2019 after serving a decade as a Republican in Congress and holding several other seats in Congress. State supporters, and former mayoral candidate Ryan Frazier, who abandoned his party affiliation to run for mayor but had previously run as a Republican candidate for governor.

Groups like Emerge, who trains democratic women to run for office, have also caused a stir in non-partisan municipal elections. In 2017, three of its graduates – Crystal Murillo, Allison Hiltz and Nicole Johnston – won their election nominations, indicating that the so-called blue wave had spread to local government.

This election cycle, Colorado Rising State Action, a conservative rights group, contributed more than half a million dollars to the municipal election, funding a political action committee called “Aurorans for a Safe and Prosperous Future.”

Marcano does not yet have the support of his colleagues to pose the question of partisan local elections to voters.

Council member Angela Lawson, who is employed by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, said she was against the measure because it would prevent people like her from being able to sit on the dais. Lawson, who is not affiliated with any political party, said his employer would not allow him to run for a partisan seat, and others might as well, especially as Aurora City Council is only considered part-time.

Council member Françoise Bergan, a registered Republican, said during Monday’s study session discussion that she was also not in favor of the ballot issue.

“I don’t even really understand the need to have party affiliation in a local race. I was elected in 2015. I was re-elected in 2019 and knocked on a lot of doors. In fact, very few people asked for my party membership and when they did I told them it was a non-partisan election focused on local issues, ”she said. declared. “And I think that’s what it is. It’s about being able to talk about the issues that affect them and the services that the city is supposed to provide, so water, roads and public safety and those kinds of things that are at the heart of what we offer to our citizens. .

She continued that she believed the council had become partisan because some of the issues raised are politically charged issues, such as raising the minimum wage. She said she was not supporting her, not because of her political party, but because of how she thinks it would affect the economy.

“So respectfully, the exact rationale you’ve given here for the minimum wage is a Republican position, like when people talk about minimum wage … in general Democrats support increasing the minimum wage, the exact amount may vary, but they know that we know that what is happening now is not sustainable, unfair to workers and frankly contributes to the economic calamity in our city, ”Marcano replied. “So we have a different point of view there. But again, it’s a very traditional Democratic versus Republican point of view. So I think you’ve sort of made my point.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect the three Emerge nominees won in 2017.


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