Acknowledging he lost his bid to be Aurora's next mayor by a whisker, Omar Montgomery brought his campaign to a conclusion on Monday, nearly two weeks after polls closed in the suburban city.
"It's sad to say that today we end the campaign for mayor," the first-time candidate told dozens of supporters gathered for a news conference at the Arapahoe County Democratic Party's headquarters.
"But 26,000 people voted for this vision. And what we want to do is be able to take that energy and this passion and continue to work on issues that impact our community."
Montgomery trailed former U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman by just 215 votes out of nearly 75,000 cast in the five-way, nonpartisan race, according to final, unofficial results posted by election officials last Thursday.
Saying he spent the weekend reviewing the count and considering legal options along with "some of the best statisticians, best legal minds in this particular area," Montgomery said he and his team decided "there wasn't a path" to challenge the results of an election rife with blunders.
"We've got to make sure it doesn't happen to any other candidate again," Montgomery said, pointing to a series of problems with the election that included thousands of mail ballots reissued by the Adams County clerk because of a typo and hundreds of voters in Arapahoe County who didn't receive their ballots until a few hours before they had to be returned to the clerk on Election Day.
"Do we think it had an impact on the election? Yes," he said, adding: "People didn't get a chance to express the most precious thing they have as a citizen, and that is the right to vote."
Montgomery also called for the city to consider reforming its campaign finance rules, such as imposing caps on the amount individual donors can contribute to a municipal candidate.
"We need to make it fair for the everyday person to run," he said.
Among the issues Montgomery said he plans to continue pursuing: keeping Aurora Central High School open, increasing "trust and transparency" between law enforcement and the community, and ensuring resident have more say in development.
Coffman said in a Facebook post Monday evening that he received "a very gracious call" from Montgomery, and the two discussed the city's future.
"Omar ran a civil and issue-oriented campaign and he has my utmost respect," Coffman wrote. "Although we won’t always agree, I truly believe there will be opportunities for us to work together for the good of Aurora."
Coffman takes office Dec. 2.