Adam McCoyAdam McCoyFebruary 8, 20182min750

The Aurora City Council is a non-partisan body, but that won’t stop the Colorado Democratic Party from celebrating the three newly-elected progressive women on the dais.

Colorado Democrats will honor Crystal Murillo, Allison Hiltz and Nicole Johnston with Rising Star awards, for being” breakout stars” within the party, at the inaugural Obama Dinner, on Feb. 3, the party said in a press statement.

“We are honored to have such dedicated Democrats fighting every day to ensure that all Coloradans have a fair shot and opportunities to succeed,” Morgan Carroll, Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, said in a statement.

“The Colorado Democratic Party would not be able to accomplish all that it can without the tireless work that our volunteers and leaders put in every day, and our award winners have proven that they are willing to step up to the plate to strengthen the state party to help move our state forward. Their commitment to building communities that work for all Coloradans is what will help elect great leaders up and down the ballot in November.”

The women were part of a progressive wave over the traditionally conservative Aurora City Council. They were coached by Emerge Colorado, a six-month program that trains Democratic women how to run election campaigns. They netted endorsements from progressive groups and from their hometown newspaper.

In December, Murillo, the youngest member of the board at 23 and the daughter of Mexican immigrants, was featured in an episode of She’s the Ticket, an online program following female candidates for public office around the country.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyNovember 13, 20174min1012

Aurora’s traditionally red City Council will have a blue hue after last week’s election.

Per preliminary election results, progressive candidates have won three seats on the Aurora City Council, altering the political makeup of a non-partisan board that is however typically a mainstay for conservatives. As the Aurora Sentinel reports:

In Ward I, upstart candidate Crystal Murillo leads incumbent Sally Mounier by approximately 400 votes. In Ward II, Nicole Johnston leads the pack with more than 2,600 votes. And in the At-Large race, Allison Hiltz will likely come out on top. She already has 15,000 votes.

The three women could start influencing city policy on public transportation, affordable housing, development, immigration and the environment (per the candidates’ campaign websites).

Murillo, who at 23 will be the youngest member of the council, says on her website her main priority will be affordable housing. She said she will “fight to make sure families can stay in their homes and implement policies that get renters on a path to homeownership.”

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, she will be featured an upcoming episode of She’s the Ticket, an online program following female candidates for public office around the country, according to Westword.

Progressives had their collective eye on Aurora city government early in the runup to the election.

The three candidates were coached by Emerge Colorado, a six-month program that trains Democratic women how to run election campaigns.

And, political clout from progressive groups like Colorado People’s Action  and Conservation Colorado, both of which promised to canvass voters on their behalf and provide other support, probably didn’t hurt.

The women also garnered the endorsement of the hometown newspaper, the Aurora Sentinel, in an October editorial.

The board will still however retain many conservative voices. One of which, as the Sentinel noted, will likely be conservative incumbent Marsha Berzins, who appears poised to retain her Ward III seat on the council.


Kara MasonKara MasonOctober 16, 20173min1179

If the Aurora Sentinel editorial board gets what it wants, all five of the Aurora City Council seats up for grabs will be filled with new, and mostly progressive, candidates. The newspaper endorsed all three of the candidates groomed by Emerge Colorado, the organization that prepares women Democrats to run for office.

Allison Hiltz, Nicole Johnston and Crystal Murillo caught the attention of many this year including the Sentinel’s, which wrote a piece highlighting the oddity in A-town politics.

The council is typically a mainstay for conservatives, despite races being nonpartisan. But Emerge Colorado delivered three alumnas to the election this year.

And so the tide may be turning. The Sentinel endorsement says:

“The new wave of city and school board candidates are arguably much more progressive than the have been previously, offering a distinct and contrasting change from past local elections. These two slates of candidates have pulled incumbent conservatives to the left, as well, something reflected in their newer positions on some past conservative touchstones.”

The weekly newspaper also endorsed Martha Lugo, a self-proclaimed progressive, and Tom Tobiassen, former chairman of the Regional Transportation District board.

In the Ward I race, the Sentinel chose Murillo, a 23-year-old University of Denver graduate who previously interned with House Speaker Crisanta Duran, over incumbent Sally Mounier for being, “consistent in showing she has the temerity, the experience and the wisdom to be steadfast in her demand that Aurora serve and protect all residents in her ward and the city, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or their documentation.”

Over in Ward II, the Sentinel endorsed Johnston over four other candidates, including former State Sen. Bob Hagedorn, but added that there really wasn’t a bad choice in the whole race.

Lugo picked up the Ward III endorsement over incumbent Marsha Berzins and three others. Hiltz, who at one point also interned for Duran, and Tobiassen picked up the at-large endorsements.

With 20 candidates, five seats and two incumbents in the race, one thing is for sure, writes the Sentinel:

“Change is guaranteed to come to Aurora as a new generation of Aurora City Council and Aurora Public Schools board candidates usher in new ideas and a drive to bring substantive progress.”


Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 18, 20173min955

The progressive Run for Something organization announced this week it's backing several Colorado candidates for municipal office, school boards and legislative seats. The national group, which aims to recruit and support "talented, passionate young people" — up to age 35 —  "who will advocate for progressive values" is getting behind dozens of Democratic candidates in 18 states in its initial round of endorsements, part of what organizers call an effort to build a bench in down-ballot races the traditional party apparatus often ignores.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyAugust 16, 20173min2137

Progressives are eyeing the seats of power at Aurora City Hall.

Colorado People’s Action — a progressive group, according to its website, centered on the climate, economic, immigrant and racial justice — have put their political weight behind four candidates for Aurora City Council, according to the Aurora Sentinel.

The group, which has offices in Denver and Aurora, recently endorsed four of 26 candidates vying for public office, promising to canvass neighborhoods in an effort to increase turnout.

The Sentinel’s Kara Mason rounded up the group’s endorsements — and took note of some on-the-job training its picks have been receiving:

In Ward I, the organization endorsed Crystal Murillo over incumbent Sally Mounier. In Ward II, where there are a total of seven candidates, CPA endorsed Nicole Johnston. Of the five candidates in Ward III, CPA endorsed political newcomer Martha Lugo. All three candidates — Murillo, Hiltz and Johnston — have been coached by Emerge Colorado, a six month program that trains Democratic women how to run an election campaign.

The group only endorsed one at-large candidate, Allison Hiltz, even though there are two at-large seats up for election.

Though the seats on the City Council are non-partisan, Aurora City Council is known for its conservative leanings. A Westword report in 2015 detailed Aurora as among the 10 most conservative cities in the country.

Though the candidates likely have an uphill battle, that’s not to say the red Aurora City Council won’t have a hint of blue come fall. New progressive political group Together for Colorado Springs had success pushing progressive candidates for local office last spring in that conservative stronghold.


Ernest LuningErnest LuningJune 26, 20177min860

Former Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio and past Massachusetts lieutenant governor nominee Steve Kerrigan are launching a national political action committee aimed at strengthening state and local Democratic parties and candidates with an eye toward next year's elections. They're calling it the Stronger States PAC, and when it launches Monday it will be the only national organization of its kind, Palacio told Colorado Politics.