AURORA | Smoking or vaping in a car with a juvenile present now comes with a fine or community service in Aurora. The city council narrowly passed an ordinance Monday banning the action.
An Aurora Girl Scout troop pushed the measure, ultimately winning over five city council members and Mayor Steve Hogan. Now, first time offenders of the secondary offense — meaning Aurora police can only write a citation to suspected scofflaws if there is other wrong doing, such as speeding — face a $150 fine or community service.
Council members Francoise Bergan, Dave Gruber, Angela Lawson, Crystal Murillo and Bob Roth voted against the measure, many citing personal liberty as the driver for their “no” vote. Two weeks ago at a city council meeting, the council unanimously approved the measure. Bergan was absent from that session.
“I had no idea we had so many libertarians,” Councilman Charlie Richardson said during debate. Richardson has been working with the Girl Scouts for more than a year.
Lawson said some feedback from the community advised her to “stay in her lane.” Lawson said she was told she’s a lawmaker, not a parent, and shouldn’t decide what’s good for a family. Bergan took a similar stance, telling the Girl Scout troop the Declaration of Independence grants rights to Americans and likened the ordinance to banning families from keeping dogs just because dog bites send thousands of people to hospitals each year.
But other members saw the measure in a different light.
“I’m not buying this argument,” Richardson said. “Minors cannot protest the situation they’re exposed to in a car.”
Richardson took a jab at Lawson and her recent work on an ordinance to address human trafficking and prostitution — the city uses the terms interchangeably— in massage parlors, saying that issue was also one of individual freedoms.
Lawson said her ordinance is an issue of public safety.
The ordinance is part of the Aurora troop’s aim for a Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. Troop leaders Kristen Batcho and Michele Malchow previously told the Aurora Sentinel they were first surprised by the scope of what the troop of five wanted to do for a project, which could earn them national recognition.