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Aurora leaders speak out against ballot initiative that would change city's government

A group of bipartisan local leaders came together in Aurora on Monday to speak out against a new ballot initiative that would completely change the city's government
Aurora meeting
Posted at 4:51 PM, May 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-22 21:06:27-04

AURORA, Colo. — A group of bipartisan leaders in Aurora came together Monday to speak out against a new ballot proposal that is seeking to change the way the city is governed and give much more power to the city's mayor.

Denver7 spoke with Aurora council members who are concerned about this new push which would turn the city's government into a "strong mayor" system.

The proposal would give the mayor in Aurora veto powers, the power to appoint city leadership, hiring and firing power of city staff and department heads, as well as control over city contracts, according to a news release from the group against the initiative.

During a news conference Monday, council members Danielle Jurinsky and Curtis Gardner were joined by a group of past and current council members, representatives from the city's fire and police unions and other elected officials to express their concerns with the new proposal.

Both Jurinsky and Gardner spoke up against the way the ballot initiative is being presented to the community.

"That is extremely alarming to me — the deception behind this," said Jurinsky. "Signature-gatherers are asking people to sign this petition based on term limits, they’re not being told this absolutely changes our form of government," she said.

Part of the initiative aims to reduce term limits for mayors and council members from three four-year terms to two, among other changes.

"I've received messages from constituents saying, 'Hey I was stopped at King Soopers, I was stopped at Walmart, what is this?,'" said Jurinsky. "People in Aurora need to know we already have term limits. This is a farce, this is a set up," she added.

"Our biggest concern is removing the voice that represents a community from council and placing that power in the hands of one person," said Gardner.

Aurora leaders speak out against ballot initiative that would change city's government

Council members say they don't know who the proponents behind the initiative are or who is funding it — which makes it more concerning.

"We don’t know who authored it, why isn’t the proponent coming forward and owning it and promoting it?" asked Jurinsky.

Whoever the proponents are would need to gather around 12,000 signatures by June 6 in order for it to make it onto the November 7 ballot.

Denver7 reached out to the city to get a comment from Mayor Mike Coffman. A city spokesperson said the mayor would only comment if this proposal were to make it onto the ballot.

By late Monday afternoon, Garrett Walls, the lead proponent of the initiative, responded to the claims made by the bipartisan group of leaders earlier in the day.

"Aurora voters pick mayors and city council members, but too much power resides with a mostly unknown, unelected City Manager who can appoint police and other department heads with no accountability to the voters. It is time to give the power back to the voters and deliver real accountability to the people of Aurora - through term limits and letting voters hold city leaders accountable at the ballot box."

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