A year after losing his seat in Congress, longtime Colorado politico Mike Coffman appears set to win the race to become Aurora's next mayor.
As of 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 5, showed Coffman with 38.09 percent of the vote. Omar Montgomery, the lone viable Democrat contender, held 32.8 percent of the vote at second place. Unlike in Denver, there are no runoffs in Aurora's elections, so Coffman only needs to be the top vote-getter to win. Ryan Frazier and Marsha Berzins were in third and fourth place, respectively.
Coffman, a Republican who represented Colorado's 6th Congressional District for ten years before losing a re-election bid to Jason Crow in 2018, would serve as mayor with a council that looks set to remain right-leaning. Although there were challenges from the left for all five Aurora City Council seats up for grabs, four out of five of those incumbents appear destined to retain their seats. The one incumbent who is likely to lose, Johnny Watson, would be replaced by Curtis Gardner, another conservative.
That means the progressive contingent on Aurora's council — Nicole Johnston, Allison Hiltz and Crystal Murillo — would remain a minority, though incumbents Angela Lawson and Charlie Richardson, both of whom will likely win re-election, sometimes side with the three progressive councilmembers.
Aurora has a council-manager form of government, so the Aurora City Council appoints a city manager who runs the day-to-day affairs of the executive branch. The mayor, who serves a four-year term, like council members, operates as the face of Aurora's government and runs council meetings.
In recent decades, there have only been a few mayors of Aurora. Dennis Champine oversaw the growing city in the early ’80, followed by Paul Tauer and then Paul’s son, Ed Tauer.
This mayoral election was the first contested mayoral race in Aurora since Steve Hogan, a staple in Aurora politics, won the coveted seat in 2011. Hogan led Aurora through the 2012 movie theater shooting and ran unopposed for a second term in 2015. After Hogan died in May 2018, Bob LeGare, a member of the city council, was chosen by other members of council as Hogan’s replacement; LeGare made it clear early on that he would not be running for a full term.
Coffman and the new council will have to tackle major issues facing the city, including use-of-force incidents involving the police, oil and gas drilling, a controversial immigration detention facility, and a housing-affordability crisis.
The police department will be one of the most pressing matters to deal with: Chief Nick Metz, who moved from Seattle to take the job in 2015, is retiring at the end of the year. His deputy, Paul O'Keefe, will take over as interim chief in the new year. Jim Twombly, the city manager, will then work with Aurora City Council and the mayor to choose a permanent chief.