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A key Denver staffer could get the ax next week. 

The City Council is set to vote Monday on whether to fire Leon Mason, the council staff's executive director.

The decision will come less than two months after five new council members were sworn in.

Mason has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, said Stacy Simonet, an administrator for City Council Legislative Services.

Council President Jolon Clark and several other council members did not return calls from Colorado Politics on Friday. 

Council members have been instructed by the city's legal counsel not to comment on the upcoming vote, said Lisa Calderón, chief of staff for Councilwoman Candi Cdebaca. 

"It’s a personnel issue. They're not at liberty to talk about it publicly," Calderón said. 

But the council already has begun crafting a list of qualifications for a replacement. Council members mentioned at an Aug. 21 operations meeting that a job description was in the works, Simonet said. 

Mason's potential departure is yet another indication of upheaval at City Hall, said Ean Tafoya, a former legislative assistant to the council.

Mason was hired in 2017 under Council President Albus Brooks, an ally of Mayor Michael Hancock and one of three incumbents who lost his seat in this spring's election.

"A lot of people felt like there wasn't a check and balance — that the City Council was a rubber stamp," said Tafoya, who now works as a political consultant. "Clearly, you’re seeing just in the first month and a half or two months, that’s not the case."

Clark and some other council members have clashed with the mayor recently on some high-profile issues.

The council president and six of his colleagues recently sponsored a "pollution tax" that would have taxed city businesses for energy use.

The proposal, which Hancock and others criticized as being rushed, has since been delayed to give the council and mayor more time to work on measures to combat climate change. But voters will be asked to approve the tax this fall since a citizen initiative petitioned a similar proposal onto the Nov. 5 ballot.

To Hancock's dismay, newly elected Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca has led a charge to cut short multi-million dollar contracts with two of the city's halfway house operators amid concerns about subpar conditions at other facilities the for-profit companies operate. 

Now CdeBaca and her staff want to see Mason's office overhauled, said Calderón. 

"We're calling for a restructuring of the central office to be more community-service oriented — not just for council members, but also for the public," she said. 

CdeBaca and her team have had little support from Mason's office as the new council members transitioned into office, Calderón said.

"It’s really a system set up to support incumbents and legacy staff — in other words, people who already know their way around City Hall," she said. "We were really left to fend for ourselves in many ways. She (CdeBaca) did not have an office, computers, a phone system set up until about three weeks after she was sworn in."

As executive director, Mason is to help manage citywide projects; oversees aides, interns and other council staff; provide guidance to the council and participate in contract negotiations, his job description says.

He is paid about $116,500, Simonet said. 

A draft of the new job description has been circulated internally among council members but hasn't yet been posted, Calderón said.

News that Mason might soon part ways with the council was first reported by The Denver Post. 

"I learned from talking to my colleagues that it was the will of the Council to move in a different direction,” Clark told The Post in a text message. 

Mason was suspended without pay Aug. 9, Clark said. He had the option to resign and negotiate a severance agreement but missed an Aug. 30 deadline to do so, The Post reported. 

     

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Mason was suspended without pay.

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