Open at-large seat on Aurora City Council attracts 7, so far

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AURORA | Applications for the Aurora City Council at-large position vacated by now-Mayor Bob LeGare are starting to roll in. City leaders hope to fill that spot by mid-July. 

The city closes applications for the position on Thursday July 5. But seven candidates submitted applications by Tuesday evening, including former city council candidates Brian Arnold and Martha Lugo, Tom Tobiassen and Tim Huffman.

Newcomer applicants are Marc Tachibana, Johnathan Scott and Margaret Sobey

Arnold, who ran for an at-large seat in 2017, said during his campaign affordable housing would be a top priority of his— especially as he’s executive director of Aurora Warms the Night, a non-profit organization that partners with other organizations to connect Aurora’s homeless population with services.

Lugo, a PhD candidate and former probation officer in the 18th Judicial District Probation Department, ran for a Ward III seat in 2017. Marsha Berzins won that seat, after a slate of self-described progressive candidates split the vote. Lugo was the runner up in that race.

In April, Lugo announced on Facebook a kick-off to her 2019 council campaign for an at-large seat. 

“We all know that the right will be coming at us with a fury next year, so we must start early!” she wrote on her campaign Facebook page.

LeGare, who was sworn in as mayor last week, told the Sentinel he didn’t have anybody in particular in mind for his seat. But that any of the candidates for at-large seats in 2015 or 2017 would be a place to start looking.

Applicants must meet few requirements to submit an application: They must be at least 21 years old, a resident of Aurora for at least one year and have no felony convictions. Because the position is an at-large seat, candidates can reside anywhere in the city.

Allison Hiltz and Dave Gruber were the last two at-large members to be elected. Gruber won after a recount was ordered between him and Tom Tobiassen. Gruber took the seat with fewer than 50 votes more than Tobiassen got. 

Huffman, who also came up short in the at-large race in 2017, also submitted an application. He received an endorsement from the police union. Huffman was an Aurora police officer for 33 years. He was also on the receiving end of a last-minute $100,000 donation from oil and gas industry political action committee Vital for Colorado, along with candidates Sally Mounier, Marsha Berzins, David Gruber and Bob Hagedorn. 

The money was primarily for television ads, robo calls and live calls. 

Huffman said he’d like to see more jobs come into Aurora — that could help solve other issues, such as affordable housing and homelessness. If Huffman doesn’t get the appointment, he said he’d run for the at-large seat in 2019, Angela Lawson’s seat will also be up then.

Whoever is chosen to for the seat will serve out LeGare’s term, which lasts until November 2019. LeGare will serve out former Mayor Steve Hogan’s term, which also ends in 2019.

Hogan died last month after announcing he had cancer.