Public funeral services for Mayor Steve Hogan slated for May 19

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AURORA | A public memorial service for Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 19 at the Heritage Christian Center in Aurora, 14401 E. Exposition Ave.

Hogan died Sunday after being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the following organizations via the city’s website atAuroraGov.org: The 7/20 Memorial fund, the Aurora Korean War Memorial fund, the Aurora History Museum, the University of Denver Stephen D. Hogan Scholarship Fund.

In the wake of Mayor Steve Hogan’s death, the local leaders who worked with the affable mayor for decades remembered a passionate advocate for Aurora whose friendly way made working on tough topics easy.

Dennis Champine served as Aurora’s mayor from 1979-1987, and before that was on city council with Hogan.

He said Hogan, even back then, had an “ability to disagree without being disagreeable.”

That made Hogan someone adept at bringing people together, he said.

“He was the kind of guy that regardless of the issue and which side he was on, he could always appreciate his colleagues,” he said.

Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman, who first met Hogan in the early 80s, agreed. The two both ran for city council in 1985. Hogan won and Coffman lost.

Back then Hogan was a Democrat, but Coffman recalled that he really liked him. Later, switched parties, after making a run for Congress against Republican former astronaut Jimmy Swigert. But Hogan has always been somebody who did what was right for the city, Coffman said.

“For him the glass was half full in whatever issue it was,” Coffman said. 

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Hogan was a major force behind University of Colorado moving their medical campus to the old Fitzsimons Army Medical Center at Interstate 225 and East Colfax Avenue.

Champine said he and Hogan had dinner together about once a month in recent years.

Hogan has served as mayor since 2011. He sat on the city council for 24 years and was also a state representative of the Colorado House.

The Hogan family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Mayor Stephen D. Hogan Memorial Fund via a link that will be on the city’s website at AuroraGov.org early this week.

Details about services are forthcoming, members of the family said.

When Champine was mayor back in the 1980s he pushed hard for Aurora to be recognized as more than just a suburb of Denver, even being quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying “this is nobody’s suburb.”

Hogan also made that point often as mayor, arguing that Aurora wasn’t a suburb anymore, but a major city that should be thought of in the same terms as places like Seattle, or Honolulu or other population centers in the west. When it came to hiring top-level city positions, Hogan made the point that Aurora would be in the running for the same candidates as any of those major hires.

And in two of the city’s biggest hires during his time as mayor, Aurora did just that, hiring Police Chief Nick Metz from Seattle and Fire Chief Fernando Gray from Dallas.

Champine said he was thrilled to see Hogan push the fact that Aurora is more than a suburb, while still maintaining the important regional relationships with other municipalities.

Hogan’s passing means he won’t get to see some of the projects he helped shepherd — chief among them the Gaylord Rockies Hotel and Convention Center and the city’s northeastern growth it is sparking — come to fruition.

Champine said that is sad, but Hogan helped make sure “the die is cast” on those projects, and would be happy to know they were soon to be reality.

“Steve was never a guy that needed to take all the credit,” he said.

Kevin Hougen, CEO of the Aurora Chamber, in the case of Gaylord and the new Veterans Affairs Hospital he would have never expected Hogan not to be there for the openings.

“But his legacy will always be there,” he said.

Hougen first met Hogan in the 1980s when he ran a moving company and Hogan was on council. From then until now, Hogan was a consummate leader, Hougen said,

“His leadership brought respect and dignity to Aurora,” he said. “He was Aurora.”

In the aftermath of the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, Hougen said the mayor was the city’s “rock.”

“He will be greatly missed,” he said.

On policy issues, Hougen said Hogan was always an very public advocate for the city’s growth, for making sure Buckley Air Force Base stayed active or that Aurora’s transportation system kept up with growth.

But that wasn’t all Hogan was worried about, he said.

“He was one of those champions behind the scenes always for affordable housing and how to diversify the community,” he said.

Tim Stewart, executive director of the E-470 toll authority, said when it came to transportation, Hogan, a former E-470 boss himself, was a visionary.

Hogan long ago recognized the need for Aurora to have major transportation options on the city’s eastern edge if the city hoped to grow toward Denver International Airport, he said.

That transportation infrastructure, E-470 at the center of it, made bustling neighborhoods like Heritage Eagle Bend, Saddle Rock and Murphy Creek possible, he said.

“He knew that, he knew transit was vital and transit links were vital to economic development,” he said.

When he took over E-470 a couple years ago, Stewart said Hogan sat on the committee that interviewed him.

“It was a little intimidating because of his stature,” he said.

But it was also reassuring knowing that the city’s top elected official was an advocate for the toll road.

Well before he became governor of Colorado, Bill Owens, a longtime Aurora resident, served on the city’s planning and zoning commission when Hogan was on city council back in the late 1970s.

In the intervening four decades, Owens said he has seen Hogan play a central role in the city’s growth.

“It’s hard to separate Steve Hogan from the progress that Aurora has made over the last 30 years,” he said. “He has been an integral part of many of the major decisions that have moved the city forward.”

Along the way, Hogan did that while always remaining positive, something that is often in short supply in today’s politics, he said.

“When we think of term limits, we should make an exception for Steve Hogan,” he said.

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