aurora city council elects collage

Aurora City Council elects from top left to bottom right: Dustin Zvonek, Danielle Jurinsky, Steve Sundberg, Crystal Murillo and Jono Scott. 

The party balance of the Aurora City Council was rocked Tuesday as Republican candidates won four of the five open seats, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s office.

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, Republicans Danielle Jurinsky and Dustin Zvonek are projected to win the two at-large seats, in addition to Steve Sundberg in Ward 2 and Jono Scott in Ward 3. The only non-Republican candidate expected to win is incumbent Democrat Crystal Murillo of Ward 1.

The results flipped the party-representation of Ward 2 and of one of the at-large seats, resulting in a 10-member council that will have seven right-leaning members, compared to five previously.

“The results in Aurora give me hope for the city,” Jurinsky said. “Council will change now to be more business friendly as well as to make public safety a top priority.”

This election essentially returns the historically conservative council to its roots, after a wave of progressive candidates were elected in 2017 and 2019, creating an unusually even party split among council members.

With the new Republican majority — in addition to Republican Mayor Mike Coffman who serves as a tie-breaking vote — conservative initiatives are likely to begin passing through the council, including Coffman’s homeless camping ban that previously failed with repeated tie votes in August.

The council’s recent steps toward pursuing police reform and establishing affordable housing programs may also be at risk.

“I'm very worried about many people's safety and well-being,” Democrat Councilwoman Alison Coombs said on Twitter. “If people thought Aurora was lagging on supporting vulnerable people before, I fear we have not seen the worst of it."

Murillo being the only incumbent to run for reelection. Republican Councilwoman Marsha Berzins was term-limited, while Republican Councilman Dave Gruber and Councilwomen Nicole Johnston and Allison Hiltz, both Democrats, stepped down from their positions to spend more time with their families.

Gruber, Hiltz and Johnston served only one of their possible three four-year terms on council.

The Colorado Republican Party applauded Aurora’s election results, saying the shift in the city's party balance was a sign that Colorado was becoming a more politically competitive state.

“Colorado GOP candidates won in many areas that have recently been Democrat strongholds because voters are tired of the costly decisions the Colorado Democrats are making,” said Republican Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown. “We want safe streets for our families, an affordable life in the state we love and choice in education.”

In contrast, the Colorado Democratic Party attributed Republican successes in the state to “dark money” in a statement from Democrat Chairwoman Morgan Carroll.

Councilman Juan Marcano, a Democrat, also criticized Aurora’s election results, writing on Twitter: “Reactionaries can win in low turnout, low information, ‘nonpartisan’ races with a 9:1 resource advantage. In other news, water is wet.”

The remaining five council members who were not up for reelection this year are Democrats Marcano and Coombs, Republicans Curtis Gardner and Françoise Bergan and unaffiliated Angela Lawson, a former Republican who leans right.

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