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In the recent upheaval on Aurora City Council, Councilor Dave Gruber – a Republican who has often advocated conservative views – decided not to run for a second term this November.
“My wife and I are in our sixties. My wife is a cancer survivor, colon cancer,” says Gruber. “We started talking and if I had worked on the council for four more years, it would be four more years with that as my main focus. It is probably time for us to go out and have fun.”
Gruber’s decision not to run, which he announced on the Peter Boyles Show in early May, ensures that Aurora City Council will look very different next year. At least three of the other ten members will also no longer run.
City councilor Allison Hiltz, who initially ran for democracy but is no longer affiliated, also opted for a second term. She recently gave birth to her first child and plans to focus on her son, she says.
Nicole Johnston, who represents Ward II and held the title of mayor for a year, also decided not to run so she could spend more time with her family. (She also ran as a Democrat but is now no longer connected.) In fact, Johnston is stepping down in June to move to Colorado Springs so her children can be closer to their father.
Aurora Alderman, Dave Gruber.
Courtesy Dave Gruber
Additionally, Marsha Berzins, a Republican serving on Ward III councilor, is temporary. which means that it will be replaced by someone else in November.
Councilor Crystal Murillo, a Democrat representing Ward I, is the only current councilor whose term ends in November and has announced another run.
Hiltz, Johnston and Murillo were all elected in November 2017, adding a Democratic trio to the typically conservative council. In November 2019, Juan Marcano and Alison Coombs, who describe themselves as Democratic Socialists, angered two incumbents. Their victories resulted in a division of the council between five right-leaning and five left-leaning members.
As a result, important votes were passed on controversial issues such as the Aurora minimum wage increase or the creation of a razor-thin immigrant legal protection fund. Mayor Mike Coffman previously represented Aurora and the surrounding areas in the US Congress as Republicans for the past 16 months, breaking ties frequently.
Councilors whose seats are not up for re-election include Angela Lawson, a former Republican who is no longer affiliated; Curtis Gardner, who describes himself as libertarian; and Francoise Bergan, a Republican who currently serves as mayor.
In addition to Murillo, three other candidates have applied for the seat in Ward I. A single candidate is currently running for Johnston’s Ward II seat, while two candidates are running for the Ward III seat, which will be vacated by Berzins. Five candidates are now vying to replace Hiltz and Gruber in the big places.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh works at Westword where he covers a range of topics including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves talking about New York sports.