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2021 election guide: Meet the Aurora City Council candidates

Colorado Newsline
Colorado Newsline
 2021-10-29
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The candidates vying for seats on the Aurora City Council come from a range of backgrounds, and they have different visions for the future of Colorado’s third-largest city during a time of local and national upheaval.

Most of the candidates prioritize public safety and economic growth but disagree on the best strategies to address problems such as rising homelessness and police misconduct.

On Nov. 2, Aurora voters in Wards I, II and III will each elect representatives. The entire city will elect two at-large positions on the Council, which features a total of 10 seats. Visit the city of Aurora’s website for information on how to vote in the upcoming election.

Below is a brief description of each candidate on the Aurora ballot, along with campaign finance highlights that illuminate some of the major political forces at work in Colorado municipal politics.

Ward I

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Bill Gondrez is running in the November 2021 election to represent Ward I on Aurora City Council. (Courtesy of Bill Gondrez campaign)

Bill Gondrez
Website: strongertogetheraurora.com

According to his website, Gondrez served in the military for more than 20 years and received several awards. Gondrez’s priorities as a City Council candidate include updating city infrastructure and ensuring safe lighting is installed in public areas, according to his website. He also supports creating new incentives for businesses and expanding partnerships between the Aurora Police Department and the community.

The Metro Housing Coalition Political Committee, which is tied to the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver, donated $400 to Gondrez’s campaign in September. He is endorsed by Aurorans for a Safe and Prosperous Future , which is supported by conservative advocacy group Colorado Rising State Action. Gondrez’s campaign had $20,700 on hand as of Oct. 16.

Scott Liva
Website: facebook.com/ScottLiva

Liva is a small business owner who currently works in property management, according to his Facebook page. As a council member, Liva says he will focus on “defending civil liberties and civil rights for Aurora citizens.” On his Facebook page, Liva pledges to push for housing strategies such as providing public campgrounds for RVs and tents, and using foreclosed hotels for emergency housing and income-based apartments.

Liva’s campaign has not reported any contributions or expenditures since March, when he spent $439 to print materials.

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Aurora City Councilmember Crystal Murillo, who represents Ward I, is running for reelection in 2021. (Courtesy of Crystal Murillo campaign)

Crystal Murillo
Website: murillo4aurora.com

Murillo, the incumbent Council member representing Ward I, was elected to her position in 2017. She chaired the Housing, Neighborhood Services and Redevelopment Committee for her first three years on Council. If reelected, she says she’ll work to make sure the city’s future growth and development preserves access to housing for residents of all income levels. Murillo also calls for an end to over-policing of communities of color and wants to expand a program that sends unarmed first-responder teams of paramedics and mental health professionals, rather than police, to respond to low-level 911 calls.

Murillo’s campaign received a $4,000 contribution this month from the small donor committee of Service Employees International Union Local 105 and $1,000 from Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 9. Her campaign had $12,700 on hand as of Oct. 16. Murillo is endorsed by Conservation Colorado Action Fund, an environmental advocacy group.

Ward II

Jessica Giammalvo
Website: jessica4aurora.com

Giammalvo is a U.S. Army veteran who prides herself on her lack of political connections. “I am a hard-science, reason and logic based everyday citizen of Aurora,” her website says. “I am running not as a set-up for my next office or to build a resume.” As a city councilor, Giammalvo says she would seek to understand residents’ needs and wouldn’t let political loyalties shape her decision making.

Giammalvo’s campaign had about $2,000 on hand as of Oct. 16.

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Robert Hamilton is running in the November 2021 election to represent Ward II on Aurora City Council. (Courtesy of Robert Hamilton campaign)

Robert Hamilton III
Website: rh34aurora.com

Hamilton has lived in Colorado for the last 15 years, and he has two decades of experience in finance and accounting, according to his website. He calls for “serious and swift decisions” to address rising crime rates and wants to help make Aurora more business-friendly. According to his website, Hamilton would like to see local, private organizations take over the city’s efforts to provide assistance to people experiencing homelessness in order to “minimize the use of taxpayer dollars.”

Hamilton’s campaign had $3,160 on hand as of Oct. 16.

Bryan Lindstrom
Website: bryan4aurora.com

Lindstrom grew up attending Aurora Public Schools, according to his website, and has been working in education for 10 years, six of those at Hinkley High School. He supports partnerships between public schools and local organizations to provide health and social resources for the community. Lindstrom also wants to add more roundabouts and speed bumps to improve traffic safety in residential areas, according to his website. He’s opposed to “giving incentives to the Amazons of the world” and thinks the city should instead “rebuild local wealth” through targeted grants and loans.

The Public Education Committee, which is tied to the Colorado teachers union, donated $1,000 to Lindstrom’s campaign in October. Lindstrom’s campaign also received $450 in September from Conservation Colorado Action Fund and got door-to-door support this month from Colorado People’s Action . The campaign had $18,800 on hand as of Oct. 16.

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Steve Sundberg is running in the November 2021 election to represent Ward II on Aurora City Council. (Courtesy of Steve Sundberg campaign)

Steve Sundberg
Website: sundberg4aurora.com

Sundberg manages and operates a local family-owned bar and grill in Aurora, where he has lived for the last 25 years, according to his website. He currently chairs the board of Leadership Aurora, a program of the Aurora Chamber of Colorado, and has served on the city’s Parks and Recreation Board. On his website, Sundberg says he supports law enforcement and firefighters, and he aims to “foster unity between police and residents.” Sundberg opposes regulations and mandates that make it difficult for small businesses to operate.

Sundberg’s campaign received $400 in October from the Apartment Association of Metro Denver Political Committee. He is also endorsed by Aurorans for a Safe and Prosperous Future. The campaign spent $20,900 on digital and mail advertising this month and had $6,930 on hand as of Oct. 16.

Ward III

Ruben Medina
Website: medina4aurora.com

Medina, a former firefighter and EMT, raised his kids in Ward III and led efforts to revitalize the Moorhead Rec Center, according to his website. He’d like to see Aurora rethink how it recruits, trains, and disciplines police officers. Medina also supports a recreation and job skills center for local teenagers. If elected, Medina would push to establish a major event venue in Aurora and would vote to raise the minimum wage, according to his website.

Medina’s campaign received $450 from Conservation Colorado Action Fund in September. He’s endorsed by the Sentinel Colorado Editorial Board, Colorado Sierra Club and Colorado Working Families Party, among others. Medina’s campaign had $4,150 on hand as of Oct. 16.

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Jono Scott, center, is running in the November 2021 election to represent Ward III on Aurora City Council. Scott is pictured with his family. (Courtesy of Jono Scott campaign)

Jono Scott
Website: jonoscott.com

Scott has worked as a pastor at Woodside Baptist Church since 2004. He’s also director of the Kingdom Building Foodbank and vice chair of Aurora’s Citizens’ Advisory Budget Committee. Scott believes in supporting police and fire departments, and he wants to address Aurora’s aging roads and bridges, according to his website. On economic development, Scott says Aurora is “poised to be the major economic driver in the state” and must expand “wisely and purposefully.”

Scott had about $31,400 on hand as of Oct. 16. He is endorsed by Aurorans for a Safe and Prosperous Future, the committee supported by Colorado Rising State Action. His campaign received $400 in October from Realtor Candidate PAC, which is tied to the Colorado Association of Realtors.

At-Large

Candice Bailey
Website: candicebaileyforaurora.com

Bailey is a local activist who has served on the Citizens’ Advisory Budget Committee and Community Police Task Force, as well as the Community Mobilization Team of Aurora’s Youth Violence Prevention Program, according to her website. Bailey is president of the Colorado chapter of National Action Network, a civil rights organization. Her priorities include increasing the hourly minimum wage, protecting renters from eviction and funding violence prevention programs, Bailey’s website says. She has lived in Aurora for more than 30 years.

Bailey’s campaign received $1,000 from progressive philanthropist Merle Chambers on Oct. 14 and $700 from Conservation Colorado Action Fund in September. The campaign had about $4,500 on hand as of Oct. 16.

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Hanna Bogale is running in November 2021 for an at-large position on the Aurora City Council. (Courtesy of Hanna Bogale campaign)

Hanna Bogale
Website: hannabogale.com

Bogale, an Ethiopian American entrepreneur and community advocate who graduated from Overland High School, is currently the head of finance for the Ethiopian American Civic Council, according to her website. She believes that creating and preserving affordable housing should be Aurora City Council’s No. 1 priority. Bogale also wants to increase citizen oversight of the Aurora Police Department and improve department transparency.

Bogale’s campaign has not reported any contributions or expenditures for the current election cycle.

Becky Hogan
Website: hoganforoneaurora.com

Hogan comes from a career in economic development and has provided consulting services for a number of projects in Aurora. She is the widow of former Aurora mayor Steve Hogan . Becky Hogan, who is Korean American, chairs the Korean Committee for Aurora Sister Cities International and serves on the Aurora Planning and Zoning Commission. If elected, she vows to advance job creation and development opportunity, improve transportation infrastructure and help grow small businesses. She wants to improve public safety and restore civility on City Council.

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Becky Hogan is running in November 2021 for an at-large position on the Aurora City Council. (Courtesy of Becky Hogan campaign)

Hogan’s campaign received a $1,000 contribution on Oct. 18 from Realtor Candidate PAC. Her campaign spent more than $30,000 on marketing in the first half of October and had about $8,200 on hand as of Oct. 16.

Danielle Jurinsky
Website: danielleforaurora.com

Jurinsky, a small business entrepreneur and Air Force veteran, wants to advance more business-friendly policies to recapture jobs and revenue from neighboring cities. She is a graduate of Overland High School. Jurinsky formerly served as a military police officer, contributing to a background that makes her uniquely suited to “help rebuild mutual respect and trust between law enforcement and our diverse community,” her website says. If elected, Jurinsky says she will fight to lower the city’s taxes and fees.

Realtor Candidate PAC donated $1,000 to Jurinsky’s campaign this month, as did commercial real estate broker Israel Sonenreich. The campaign had $96,100 on hand as of mid-October.

John Ronquillo is running in November 2021 for an at-large position on the Aurora City Council. (Courtesy of John Ronquillo campaign)

John Ronquillo
Website: johnronquillo.com

Ronquillo teaches and conducts research at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs, according to his website. He currently serves on the Advisory Council for the Colorado COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, as well as the boards of directors for Servicios de La Raza and the Arapahoe County Foundation. Ronquillo believes in protections for people at risk of eviction or foreclosure. To reduce crime, he supports investing more in rehabilitation and re-entry programs for people leaving jail or prison while steering away from punitive measures.

SEIU Local 105 donated $4,000 to Ronquillo’s campaign on Oct. 22. This month, the campaign also received $2,000 from Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 9 and $1,000 from Democratic state Rep. Edie Hooton of Boulder. The group One Main Street Colorado — which describes itself as “a coalition of firefighters, building trade labor organizations, and business leaders” — spent $21,800 on mailers supporting Ronquillo’s campaign.

Dustin Zvonek
Website: dustinforaurora.com

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Dustin Zvonek is running in November 2021 for an at-large position on the Aurora City Council. (Courtesy of Dustin Zvonek campaign)

Zvonek formerly worked as a congressional aide for then-U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican now serving as mayor of Aurora. Zvonek is also the former vice president of strategy and innovation for national conservative group Americans for Prosperity. If elected to City Council, Zvonek says he will prioritize training and support for Aurora’s police and fire departments and work to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the community. Zvonek supports a “commonsense camping ban” coupled with designated camping locations, according to his website.

Zvonek’s campaign is endorsed by Aurorans for a Safe and Prosperous Future and received a $1,000 donation from Realtor Candidate PAC on Oct. 18. The campaign spent a whopping $107,000 on digital and mail advertising in October.

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