I hope you are all enjoying the weekend! Here’s a brief on what we got up to last week.
City Council Meeting
We had another smooth meeting with little controversy. The only matters that made waves were the resolution allowing Aurora to continue to resettle refugees and a bit of discussion around residents serving on multiple boards and commissions.
CM Gruber offered and amendment to the resolution to insert a clause that seemed to imply that refugees might have some sort of detrimental effect on our community, while the resolution itself already stated what we’ve known for years: our immigrant community contributes to Aurora’s cultural fabric and local economy. The amendment failed on a 6-4 vote (CMs Bergan, Berzins, Gardner, and Gruber voting in favor) and the original resolution passed unanimously.
Regarding boards and commissions, we have noticed a trend of individuals serving on numerous boards and commissions concurrently, and that wards V and IV seem to be over-represented. This is a matter that the Public Relations, Communications, Tourism, Libraries, Boards and Commissions & Citizen Groups committee will be taking a look at and working on a way to bring more equity and broader representation to our boards and commissions.
Public Forum: Police Chief Search Consultant
Regan Williams of Bob Murray & Associates hosted a public forum on Tuesday evening to hear what qualities our community wants to see in our next chief of police. Common themes were cultural competency, a dedication to transparency, a good understanding of community policing, someone what is not a politician, and someone with a plan. Much of what our community shared were themes I spoke with Regan about the day prior when I had a chance to meet with him. He is taking the feedback from council members and our community will use that information to build an ideal candidate profile. That profile should be available in the coming weeks.
Ward IV Meeting Recap
We had over 50 people attend our first Ward IV meeting at the Stampede! Thank you all for coming out and partaking in a couple of lively Q/As with our outstanding city staff and with me!
Key takeaways from the Public Works presentation:
- RTD is targeting Aurora and the R-line for cuts in service as their hiring troubles continue. According to the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, the R-line has shown a 4% year-over-year ridership bump — the only RTD line to do so. Dates and locations for a series of upcoming public meetings will be announced soon and I encourage you to attend and let RTD know what they think.
- Ward IV is getting some more love from DRCOG (Denver Regional Council of Governments) grants: a pedestrian bridge connecting The Point at Nine Mile (formerly Regatta Plaza) and Nine Mile Station, and a bus rapid transit update to the Havana corridor from Colfax on south. According to staff, the Havana and Colfax stop is the most heavily utilized stop in the entire RTD service area, and the coming bus rapid transit updates should increase the number of Aurorans who utilize public transit when coupled with strategic infill along the strip.
- The Westerly Creek and Toll Gate Crossing trail connection project should be open in March. This has been a point of contention for many Ward IV residents (especially those in the Sable Ridge and Willow Park neighborhoods). I have been in regular contact with staff and our community on this matter and our Public Works team are well aware of our concerns with this project. APD will be collecting speed data along E Florida Avenue and efforts will continue to improve the signage and turn radii along the bike path.
Key takeaways from open Q/A:
- There is an ongoing investigation into the Agent Meier situation and our Chief Wilson is unable to make public comments on the matter until the investigation is complete. I share our community’s frustration on the investigation-induced gag and concerns around setting a double-standard for how we handle situations where our peace officers violate the law. This is something I have spoken to Regan Williams about with regards to our next chief of police and I hope that he will take that to heart.
- Contrary to the insinuations by some council members, there is no adverse impact on housing or employment by refugee resettlement in Aurora. Resettled refugees provide a hefty return-on-investment in terms of economic activity and contribute to the vibrancy of our culture in Aurora. There are areas with regards to housing that I am looking at targeting for legislative reforms in the coming months focused on improving affordability, reducing vacancy, and chasing out speculation that has lead to the rapid inflation of rents and erected high barriers to ownership for our working class.
Community Meeting: Public Safety Reform
Our second meeting on public safety reforms took place on Friday. The event was well-attended and included a recap on the previous meeting, steps taken since then (which included the announcement of a task force to lay out the framework for an independent review board), and a chance for residents to discuss more concrete actions they want to see the community group and the soon-to-be-created task force undertake. Independence from the department, rapid releases of body camera footage, and a focus on youth engagement and protection were among the many themes discussed. You can catch a Facebook live video of the event here, and I’ll let you know as soon as the third meeting is scheduled.
We’re heading into a week without a study session or general meeting, but we’ll be in the office meeting with constituents, community organizations, researching policy, and working on on constituent requests. As always, you can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 720.634.6927 (text preferred).