The city’s historic first election for a strong mayor has finally ended. In hindsight, our inaugural attempt wasn’t pretty — as this timeline of mistakes made and lessons learned clearly demonstrates.
Nov. 2: More than 59 percent of voters say yes to Issue 300, setting in place a council-mayor form of government, in which the mayor will wield broad powers. With the new structure in place, an election in April will decide seven of nine City Council seats.
January: Conservative radio host Jeff Crank begins e-mailing his "Americans for Prosperity Colorado Taxpayer Protection Pledge" to candidates, asking them to sign on and commit to never support a tax increase.
Jan. 26: Anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce throws his hat in the race for an at-large Council seat. Soon, he convinces four others to run and calls his slate of at-large candidates "The Reform Team." It includes the controversial Ed Bircham, who according to his past employees, thought Hitler "had it almost right."
Feb. 9: A Gazette story reveals that City Clerk Kathryn Young believes it's illegal for city candidates to accept corporate contributions. That's news to candidates and elected officials, who have all accepted such contributions. Weeks later, after the city has sought a second opinion and mayoral candidate Steve Bach has hired an attorney to contest Young's findings, City Council declares that corporate contributions have always been legal, and remain so.
Feb. 14: Council candidate Lisa Czelatdko tells the Indy that a city clerk staff person tore up some of her petitions to get on the ballot, then told her she had used the wrong forms.
March 16: Mitch Christiansen drops out of the mayoral race, endorses Bach and proceeds to mock other candidates in a series of offensive and homophobic e-mails.
March 10: The Indy reports that the city clerk will mail all ballots March 16, instead of starting to mail them March 11, as the election calendar states, and has been widely reported by news outlets.
March 10: Colorado Ethics Watch files a complaint with the city alleging that Bruce and his team are not properly reporting campaign contributions. The city forwards the complaint to the state. On March 18, state Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer dismisses the complaint, saying it is up to the city to prosecute the case. On April 28, rather than take action, the city appeals the state's decision.
March 3: The Indy and Gazette run a joint editorial urging the city to send mail ballots to all registered voters, rather than just "active voters." The city declines. Young says she already has the ballots printed and cannot — for whatever reason — print more, despite the wishes of City Councilors. Vice Mayor Larry Small says changing city code to fix the problem would take a month.
March 17: At the request of five candidates, the state agrees to send an observer from the Secretary of State's office to ensure Young is properly handling the election. The observer, ultimately, says Young is doing a fine job.
March 17: Reports that voters can't fit their ballots in their secrecy sleeves start rolling in. The city suggests tearing the sleeve to make the ballot fit.
March 30: Bruce accuses Councilman Scott Hente of breaking the law, because Hente sent a personal e-mail to a list of friends asking them not to vote for the Reform Team. Allegations of wrongdoing are quickly disproven.
April 1: The Gazette runs a story in which Marian Volk, the first of Bach's three wives, claims he beat her during their brief marriage in the late '60s. The divorce between the two was granted on the basis of "mental and physical cruelty." Bach's campaign calls her detailed accusations "a complete fabrication."
April 5: On Election Day, Bach and Skorman pull way ahead of competitors early on, but with neither taking 50 percent of the vote, head for a runoff. Jan Martin, Val Snider, Merv Bennett, Brandy Williams and Tim Leigh secure at-large seats, while Angela Dougan wins in District 2.
Young steps out of her office at 9:30 p.m. and announces that she's sending all election workers home before final results are tallied. Candidates in the tight City Council District 3 race are left hanging.
April 6: Final totals are posted at 7:12 p.m., confirming that Czelatdko has edged Merrifield in District 3.
April 13: The county election department confirms that anyone not registered to vote has until April 18 to do so and still vote in the mayoral runoff. This contradicts earlier statements by Young, who said there was a single registration deadline for both April and May elections.
April 18: The Gazette runs a front-page story about long-dismissed rumors that mayoral candidate Richard Skorman had an out-of-wedlock child. The claim had been proven false by DNA evidence, and all parties agree it's not true. Gazette editor Jeff Thomas writes a blog post saying he ran the article "to demonstrate our commitment to evenhanded news coverage," since the paper had earlier run Volk's claims.
April 21: The Indy runs an article about Bach's past. Among the details: Bach went through a foreclosure, and he tried to take over his father-in-law's company as he was divorcing his second wife. The father-in-law eventually paid Bach close to a million dollars to leave the company.
May 12: The Indy reports that Bach has refused to speak to the paper until after the election. The story also includes quotes from a friend of Volk who backs the allegations of abuse.
May 13: Ethics Watch files a complaint with the city against Americans for Prosperity, which has been running anti-Skorman ads without filing proper disclosures as required by law.
May 17: Bach wins in a breeze.
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