Aurora Charter Amendment would give more power to the mayor


Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman

On July 25, the Aurora City Clerk announced that a citizen-initiated proposed amendment to the city’s charter that would eliminate the position of city manager, transferring most of the authority of that position to the mayor, had garnered 12,198 valid petition signatures, 182 more than the 12,017 that were required to put it on the November 7, 2023 ballot.

After that announcement, current Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, who is running for re-election, confirmed what many had guessed, that, “I certainly initiated the process,” and that he had also supported it financially. 

By changing Aurora from a “council-manager” to a “mayor/council” form of government, the city council would continue to, “determine legislative and policy objectives,” but the mayor would have responsibility for “appointing and managing administrative personnel for efficient day to day city government.” 

In an interview with 9 News’ Marshall Zelinger, Mayor Coffman expanded on his role, saying, “I was involved early on in researching it, in talking to different people in Denver and Colorado Springs (cities that have a mayor/council form of government) and community leaders in the city.”

Sam Mamet, retired executive director of the Colorado Municipal League, in an interview explained the issue, as, “One of the strong (mayor) arguments is you want to have one person, directly elected and accountable to the citizens of his or her community, to be able to control those appointments. The argument for a council-manager system is that you want a professionally trained individual.”

The ballot initiative would also add an eleventh seat on the city council for another at-large representative, creating an odd number of council members to make tie votes less likely. It would also reduce the number of four-year terms allowed for both city council and the mayor from three to two, which is common in area cities.

What is less common is that, if this proposal is approved by the voters, the sitting mayor will have the sole power to hire and fire the city attorney, municipal judge, court administrator, and other administrative employees of the city. The mayor will also appoint the police chief and the fire chief, with the consent of a majority of the city council. Both those department heads will need the mayor’s agreement to fill top management positions in their units.

When this proposal was first discussed several months ago, it drew a negative response from at least three sitting Aurora City Council members who seldo m all agree on anything. 

Council Member Danielle Jurinsky, a conservative, spoke out against the measure.

Council Member Juan Marcano, a Democratic Socialist who is running for mayor said, “It would hinder greatly our city’s ability to serve our residents at the level they deserve.”

Council Member Curtis Gardner, also a conservative, said, “My opposition is really about consolidating that power behind one person…Voters have been hoodwinked. They’ve been told this was about term limits when it’s really not. Council members already have term limits (though the amendment reduces those from 12 years to eight).” 

Asked his reaction to the accusation that voters who signed the petition were misled about what they were signing, Mayor Coffman said, “I’m certainly sorry if they felt that way.”

Aurora voters have until August 14 to protest the validity of any of the 12,198 accepted signatures on the petitions. To do so, they need to submit their protest in writing to the city clerk, including an explanation of their reasons. The form and instructions can be found at If there are no protests filed, the clerk will issue a Final Determination of Sufficiency on August 15, which will result in the question appearing on the ballot for the November 7, 2023 election.