It's official: Mike Coffman will be the next mayor of Aurora.
"The city of Aurora has been my home town for the past 55 years, and I’m honored to receive a vote of confidence by one of the most diverse cities in America to be their next mayor," Coffman said in a victory speech outside the Aurora Municipal Center on November 14.
The former Republican congressman won the position to lead Colorado's third-largest city after getting just 215 more votes than Democrat challenger Omar Montgomery. That final gap between the two is safely more than the automatic recount threshold of 133 votes or less.
"I look forward to working with [Montgomery]. He's been a leader in our community as the head of the NAACP, and I look forward to working with him in that context," Coffman said.
The final results came around 5 p.m. Thursday; Coffman had waited a week before declaring victory.
On November 7, two days after polls closed in the Aurora elections, final unofficial results showed that Coffman had won the race by just 273 votes.
But neither candidate declared the race over. Thousands of ballots across Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties had not been officially tallied because of issues with signatures not matching those in a database or voters forgetting to sign their ballots. Candidates then were given about a week to get voters to cure these faulty ballots. Overseas and military ballots were also added to the final count.
Montgomery's campaign sent out dozens of volunteers to attempt to cure enough ballots to either push him over the top or send the election to an automatic recount. Montgomery could still ask for a recount, but his campaign would have to cover the expenses associated with it. A campaign spokesperson did not return a request for comment from Westword.
The Aurora elections weren't just close; they were also a bit of a mess at times. On November 8, the Colorado Secretary of State's Office and the U.S. Postal Service began blaming each other for 828 replacement ballots that weren't delivered to Coloradans until election day; 664 of those ballots were for Aurora voters. Of those 664 Aurora voters who eventually received ballots, only 141 of them ended up voting.
In mid-October, over 17,000 Aurora voters received ballots with inaccurate information from the Adams County clerk, the Associated Press reported. And just weeks later, 250 Aurora voters received ballots for the wrong city council ward from Arapahoe County, according to the Aurora Sentinel.
"I think there needs to be a really deep dive after the fact into this election as to how these mistakes were made," the mayor-elect added during his victory speech.
Coffman will run meetings for a city council that will have a completely new ideological makeup. Two incumbent members of council were ousted by political newcomers who challenged them from the left. Come December 2, when winners will be sworn in, the historically-conservative council will comprise five Democrats, four Republicans and one independent. Coffman will serve as a tie-breaking vote when needed.
Coffman's first challenge on council is likely to be figuring out how to handle protesters in the audience, which has become a common sight in Aurora.
"I will have a much larger gavel," Coffman said.
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