If you’re among the majority of Aurora residents who didn’t vote in the city and school board election this week, here’s what your neighbors decided for you: Social justice is critically important in Aurora now, and the city must now address it.
Aurora residents are fortunate that, for the most part, the city has been so well-run, that things like rampant crime, dangerous roads, toxic water or looming debt aren’t clamoring for immediate attention.
Instead, voters and city lawmakers have the ability to focus on issues that make Aurora a community, and not just a city.
Growing changes in the city’s demographics are a portent to the new direction Aurora is headed. It’s not that Aurora can set aside critical issues such as transportation, police and fire protection.
A much younger, much more culturally diverse Aurora, however, means that issues like real or perceived police brutality, immigration quagmires, institutionalized racism and other discrimination, in fact, the very nature of municipal government are now front and center at city hall.
While ballots were still being counted at press time, it’s clear that voters convincingly chose at least three representatives who are unapologetically progressive in their politics.
While state legislative races have consistently gone to increasingly liberal candidates, this is the first time in recent memory, maybe ever, that Aurora’s city government leadership accumulated so many progressive representatives.
Recently, the Aurora City Council has been confusing and outright misleading about how far it would go in protecting the city’s large population of illegal immigrants from an overzealous and dangerous federal government bent by dubious political whims.
It can’t continue. We’re hopeful that the five newly elected and returning members of city council got the message from voters that the issues regarding safe families, safe environment and sane regulations are now critically important to all Aurora residents. They certainly were important to a majority of city voters this week.
How Aurora handles persistent problems like homelessness, racism, industry and commuting will now be influenced not only by new council members representing what has become a new Aurora resident, but incumbent city council representatives must also heed the growing new Aurora voice and be responsive to it.
Even in the race where voters returned conservative council representative Marsha Berzins, she likely won re-election because three seriously liberal challengers split enough similar opposition votes to have ousted her. Make no mistake, there was no mandate in Berzins’ Ward III race to back opposition to common-sense sanctuary city policy, police oversight and scrutiny or changes in how Aurora residents commute.
The election means that the vast majority of Aurora residents recognize the importance of social justice issues, and they don’t want those issues ignored.
Aurora is at a critical crossroads, brimming with new opportunities and resources. It’s time to create a new city, catering to a younger, more engaged, more active and more social population, and this new city council is the government that can make new things happen.