In the News

RACING TO THE BALLOT: Aurora lays out case in latest racetrack lawsuit; judge to rule by Monday
Aurora Sentinel 7/13/17, QUINCY SNOWDON
A judge in Arapahoe County District Court Wednesday morning heard arguments as to whether the City of Aurora’s newest municipal ballot question, which seeks to strike old verbiage from the city’s charter and permit the development of a large entertainment district, meets legal requirements under state law. . . .
Both Mayor Steve Hogan and City Councilwoman Sally Mounier attended at least a portion of the proceedings Wednesday morning.
Mounier, who has long championed the racetrack charter amendment in Aurora, said she remained confident the city would successfully litigate the suit.
“I just want to congratulate (the judge) because I think he separated out fact from fiction, truth from wishes, and I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes,” she said. “But I think we’re going to prevail. I just don’t see how we can lose on this — but that’s just me talking.” . . .
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LEGAL LIMBO: Local lawyers sue Aurora to halt racetrack ballot question, citing single-subject issue
Aurora Sentinel 6/29/17, QUINCY SNOWDON
      A pair of local lawyers filed a lawsuit in Arapahoe County District Court this week alleging a recently approved municipal ballot measure is misleading and references more than one issue — a practice prohibited under state law.
Aurora residents and lawyers Jason Legg and Kristin Mallory filed their suit against the city of Aurora June 26, claiming that a municipal ballot question — which seeks to strip language from the city’s charter that currently prohibits offering financial incentives to NASCAR-style speedways and calls for a massive entertainment district in Aurora’s northeastern corner — is deceiving and addresses two disparate issues: racetrack incentives and an entertainment district. . . .
     City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, who has championed the racetrack effort for several years, said she wasn’t taken aback by the recent lawsuit.
“I am not at all surprised,” Mounier said. “If you think about the opponents of Gaylord (Rockies Resort & Convention Center) they used litigation as a tactic to keep us from enjoying the same economic opportunities as Denver. So, it shouldn’t surprise anybody.”
Mounier, who is not a lawyer herself, added she’s confident that the language in the city’s ballot question meets legal standards.
“This language was crafted by our City Attorney, Mike Hyman, who happens to be probably one of the best attorneys to craft language like this — he knows his stuff,” she said. “I am very confident that we will prevail and soon … I’m confident that what Mike crafted is going to pass muster, so to speak.” . . .
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DAY LABOR PAINS: City push to aid day laborers with support program stalls again
Aurora Sentinel 6/28/17, QUINCY SNOWDON
     Dozens of day laborers who congregate on Dayton Street near East Colfax Avenue each morning will remain without a dedicated facility to prepare for the day’s work for a little while longer, members of the Aurora City Council decided at a regular meeting June 19.
By a 9-2 vote, council members agreed to table a lease agreement between the city and a new nonprofit organization that is expected to manage a parking lot and recently renovated building at 1521 Dayton St. The spaces are intended to be used as gathering places for the day laborers who have gathered in that area most mornings for more than two decades.
“The intent here is to alleviate the deplorable situation that our day laborers have been facing for 20 years in the 1500 block of Dayton,” said City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, whose Ward I encompasses the area in question. “They bake in the summer, they freeze in the winter, there are no bathrooms, there are occasionally people who come in and give them sustenance, but that’s sporadic at best.” . . .
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GOING THE DISTANCE: Aurora City Council grants first OK to ‘congregate living’ restrictions despite unanswered questions
Aurora Sentinel 6/27/17, QUINCY SNOWDON
      Despite a knot of outstanding questions regarding specific distance setbacks, Aurora City Council members Monday night volleyed a contentious zoning code amendment to an upcoming regular meeting for a formal vote.
At a special study session June 26, council members agreed to clarify ambiguities in the city’s zoning code with a so-called congregate living amendment, which would allow for particular group homes — such as those that seek to provide services to the city’s homeless population — to operate in Aurora after receiving the blessing of the city council at a public hearing. . . .
     Council member Renie Peterson formally introduced an amendment to her own proposal, suggesting the distance setback should be closer to 800 feet from schools. That change was in response to a request from Ward I Councilwoman Sally Mounier, who has repeatedly called for the Ready to Work program to slide into the chameleonic Afrikmall building on East Colfax Avenue.
“The reason that I’m proposing the 750-800-feet is so that it could go on Colfax and still be within the reasonable (distance) of Crawford (Elementary) School,” Peterson said. “So it could go in the Afrikmall … that’s why I proposed the lower amount.”
Peterson said Crawford is estimated to be about 791 feet from the Afrikmall building, according to city staffers. The owners of the building, Northstar Commercial Partners, have expressed interest in having a homeless service provider fill the perpetually flummoxed former furniture store.
Both Peterson and Councilwoman Barb Cleland contested that because the Afrikmall building, which is currently operating as a quasi-business incubator with some religious services, is sandwiched between several other retail strips it would be a more amenable location for Ready to Work than the highly residential area near Laredo.. . . .
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Aurora City Council members move forward with distance setbacks for ‘congregate living’ facilities
Aurora Sentinel BIZ 6/8/17, QUINCY SNOWDON
     City officials Wednesday morning narrowly moved forward with a plan to keep proposed “congregate living” facilities away from schools and hospitals.
By a 2-1 vote, members of the city’s Planning and Economic Development Policy Committee forwarded the proposal — which clarifies definitions for some living, sleeping or sanitation facilities in the city’s zoning code and requires they be kept at arm’s length from major educational and healthcare hubs —onto a forthcoming city council study session.
City Councilwoman Sally Mounier voted against the measure, saying she doesn’t support the proposed sanctions on so-called congregate living facilities.
. . .
     Mounier, who oversees the city’s northwestern Ward I, said she voted against the proposal because she wants the project to move to her ward, where she believes residents won’t have an issue with the program. Specifically, she said she’d like the Ready to Work program to slide into the defunct Afrikmall space, currently managed by Northstar Commercial Partners, on East Colfax Avenue.
The proposed regulatory setbacks would preclude Afrikmall from serving as an eligible location for the Ready to Work development, she said.
“I think Ready To Work needs to be in Ward I at the Afrikmall,” Mounier said. “So, I can’t support this.” . . .
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MEDICAL MARY JANE: Manufacturer’s request spurs Aurora officials to table medical marijuana
Aurora Sentinel 6/5/17, QUINCY SNOWDON
     Marijuana could become more than a recreational pastime in Aurora in the coming years if city council members agree to move forward with a recent request to add medical pot to the city’s growing green galaxy.
Two council members on the city’s ad hoc policy committee that deals with weed issues, Sally Mounier and Bob Roth, recently agreed to green-light a discussion on allowing the sale, manufacturing and cultivation of medical marijuana in Aurora. Those practices are currently banned under city code.
But, should at least six city council members so choose, that could change with the repeal of as few as two city ordinances, according to Tim Joyce, assistant city attorney.
At the May 30 meeting, Joyce said the city would have to axe a pair of building and retail codes if officials were to pursue allowing medical marijuana. It would not require a popular vote.
“All council has to do is repeal a couple ordinances —the business license ordinance that prohibits medical marijuana licensing and the building code that prohibits medical marijuana facilities,” he said. “City council always has the decision to enact any ordinance or repeal any ordinance.” . . .
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BACK ON TRACK? Aurora will again ask voters for permission to pursue racetrack, entertainment complex
Aurora Sentinel 6/2/2017, QUINCY SNOWDON
     A massive entertainment complex could be in store for Aurora’s northeastern fringes in coming years if city leaders have their way and voters sign off this fall on a ballot measure that would permit such a project.
Aurora politicos are once again going to ask voters to strike verbiage from the city’s charter that prevents officials from attempting to lure a motor speedway to the city by way of financial incentives, such as tax breaks.
The city unsuccessfully posed a similar ballot question that sought to remove the same stipulation in 2015. With a total of about 47,000 votes cast, the measure fell just 1,081 votes short of being passed, according to City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, who headed the previous effort.
This year, city officials said they believe a more narrowly tailored ballot question that calls for an “entertainment district” — not just a racetrack — in a defined quadrant of land will give them a better shot at getting the measure passed. . . .
     Mounier said she expects her peers to back the new ordinance Monday night. “I can’t imagine the council turning this down,” she said. “This is just so valuable for our citizens.” . . .
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Article SPURNING SANCTUARY: Aurora moves forward with anti-sanctuary city measure
Aurora Sentinel 4/26/17, QUINCY SNOWDON
     Amid what has been a wobbly week for the Trump administration’s attempts to punish so-called sanctuary cities, Aurora officials moved ahead at a city council policy committee meeting Wednesday with a resolution declaring Aurora is neither a sanctuary city nor a “sanctuary jurisdiction.”
At a regular meeting of the city committee that deals with public relations, Councilwoman Angela Lawson introduced a draft resolution that affirms Aurora is not a “sanctuary city,” rejects any such claims to the contrary, and posits the city’s local law enforcement agencies will continue not to obstruct the work of Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement.
The council members on the policy committee, Charlie Richardson, Barb Cleland and Marsha Berzins, agreed to send the proposed measure to the floor at a regular council meeting for debate. Janice Napper, assistant city manager, intimated the item could appear on the agenda for the May 14 council meeting. . . .
     Councilwoman Sally Mounier, who also attended the meeting, said she would support the measure.
“This resolution is of grave importance to me,” said Mounier, whose Ward I boasts the city’s highest proportion of foreign-born residents. “The fact that we’re stating a principle that we’re not a sanctuary city, that we do support our immigration laws, is perfectly acceptable to me.” . . .
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City moves forward with proposed building to serve day laborers near Colfax
Aurora Sentinel 4/2/17, QUINCY SNOWDON
     After nearly two years of negotiations, transactions and repairs, the city of Aurora is poised to soon be operating and partially managing a space for day laborers near the intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Dayton Street.
The city’s housing, neighborhood services and redevelopment policy committee Tuesday signed off on a proposal for city attorneys to draft a lease agreement between the city and a soon-to-be formed nonprofit organization, the goal of such a contract being to shore up the management duties of a parking lot and small building at 1521 Dayton St. Council members Sally Mounier, Bob LeGare and Charlie Richardson sit on the housing committee. . . .
      “After four years we’re this close, folks, to having something really positive for the deplorable situation that our day laborers are facing.” Mounier added that she’s proposed holding some classes at the small structure at 1521 Dayton St. She said she would personally be interested in leading a civics class there.
      While a draft of the proposed lease has not yet been released, Mounier suggested entering into an agreement for three years. LeGare proposed leasing the new group the land and building for $10 per year, which is the same rate at which the city leases other buildings to organizations in the Aurora Cultural Arts District, including the Vintage Theatre. The committee agreed to move forward with both proposed stipulations.
At the committee meeting, Mounier reminded her colleagues the proposal is not intended to serve as a permanent solution. “I want to assure the city taxpayers, though, that we understand that this is a temporary solution to the day laborers,” she said. “Our intention is to find a permanent location for the day laborers, hopefully close by so we’re not moving them too far away from where they’re accustomed to. “But this parking lot and the building will eventually become … reverted back to the city.” . . .
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CORA CONUNDRUM: Aurora councilman’s open records requests lead to testy public face-off with city staff
Aurora Sential 3/21/17, QUINCY SNOWDON
     Several Aurora City Council members, led by Councilman Charlie Richardson, clashed with city management staff at a tempestuous council study session Monday night, claiming workers in City Manager George “Skip” Noe’s office have been providing the city’s elected officials with shoddy information.
At the end of the regularly scheduled meeting March 20, Richardson lashed out at city management, saying recent responses from city staffers to his calls for background information have driven him to file open records requests in lieu of asking for a council report, which is the typical course of action for council members who desire generic information on particular issues. Richardson said heavily redacted responses paired with a lack of speed and clarity have led him to file several recent records requests, which are often referred to as CORA requests, shorthand for the Colorado Open Records Act.
. . . “I sought information from the city administration — I don’t feel I got all the information I had requested,” Richardson said. “… I have recently been hit with ‘Unless you get six members of council, the city administration is not going to respond’ to some of my requests, so that has driven me to CORA requests, which I did in this instance.” . . .
     Councilwoman Sally Mounier scolded city staffers for their treatment of Richardson. “I wish that staff would remember we are elected officials who have a responsibility to our citizenry — we do not have a responsibility to city staff,” she said. “If I was a congressman, and if I had congressional staff that treated me the way (Richardson is) being treated – fired, fired, fired, rehire.” . . .
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ACAD heads north with opening of gallery at Stanley
Aurora Sentinel 3/16/17,
     The Aurora Cultural Arts District is moving its flag north this spring with the opening of a new pop-up gallery at Stanley Marketplace. The ACAD is hosting a pop-up art space, slated to exhibit a slew of works and performances courtesy of local creatives, on the mezzanine level of Stanley through the end of May, according to Tracy Weil, managing director of the ACAD. The sweeping 1,800-square-foot space is roughly twice the size of the ACAD’s other official gallery, which is located in a renovated police substation at 1400 Dallas St. . . .
     City Council member Sally Mounier, whose Ward I encompasses both Stanley and the arts district, has long trumpeted the boon the marketplace could be for the ACAD. “As far as the ACAD goes, I think the city was always anticipating that the Stanley would enhance the arts district and vice versa,” Mounier said. “This (gallery) is probably just one of many things that’s going to be happening.” . . .
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After fiery meeting, Aurora lawmakers agree to condemn Key Bank at blighted Regatta Plaza
Aurora Sentinel 2/28/17, QUINCY SNOWDON
For the third time in about 18 months, members of Aurora City Council have agreed to grant the city power to condemn a parcel of land within the derelict Regatta Plaza, an increasingly controversial part of redevelopment drawing criticism on and off the city council.
Acting as the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority, council members on Monday gave the city the green light to use its eminent domain authority on a parcel of land in the northwest corner of Regatta Plaza that is currently owned by KeyBank. It’s part of a massive redevelopment project to turn the failed shopping plaza at Parker Road and Interstate 225 into a trendy cache of shops and residences focusing on the city’s newly expanded light-rail system.
But the city council pact came after a sharp rebuke of the city staff and project managers pushing lawmakers into a condemnation proceeding by making it seem the redevelopment would stall without swift action. . . .
The condemnation resolution passed by a vote of 7-3. Council members Sally Mounier, Marsha Berzins  and Francoise Bergan voted against the measure. Councilman Brad Pierce was absent from the meeting. The Aurora City Council also acts as the city’s urban renewal authority. . . .
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HEAD COUNT: City uses volunteers, incentives to tally homeless population
Aurora Sentinel 2/2/17, QUINCY SNOWDON
     The enumerative count was one of several events the city has hosted in recent days, and was intended to take a snapshot of Aurora’s homeless populace in conjunction with national point-in-time counts taking place across the country. . . .
     Each of the groups driving out into the city included a person who has experienced homelessness. Several city politicos and officials, including city councilwomen Sally Mounier and Angela Lawson, also volunteered. . . .
     The city is also in the process of redeveloping an abandoned building on the Anschutz medical campus to create the new Day Resource Center, where people experiencing homelessness will be able to receive services during the day. The center is being funded using marijuana tax revenues and is tentatively expected to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to McKittrick. The facility is expected to open sometime this summer.
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Aurora gives initial OK to water rate increase, averaging $3 a month
Aurora Sentinel 9/27/16, Rachel Sapin
&Aurora will likely see its water rates increase starting next year.
At an Aurora City Council meeting Monday council members agreed to move forward with an increase in the city’s water rate by 3 percent in 2017, as well as a monthly increase of $1 in the city’s storm drain fee. Aurora Water officials say it will pay for a gap in revenue and an increase in customers. Last year, Aurora Water also increased the stormwater rate by $1.
Aurora Water is looking to implement increases for both its water and stormwater rates beginning next year, after six years of keeping the city’s water rate the same. Aurora Water says it needs the increase in order to meet its continual goal of being able to supply 50,000 new residents on top of the 350,000-plus that make up Colorado’s third-largest city. . . .
Aurora Ward I City Councilwoman Sally Mounier opposed the measure, stating it would affect low-income seniors in her ward who cannot afford the increase. “I have to protect these people, I have senior citizens living on fixed income,” she said. . . .
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Afrikmall has room to grow Aurora’s artisanal space
Aurora Sentinal 6/2/2016, Quincy Snowdon
     The Aurora Cultural Arts District could be getting a boost from local residents with roots across the Atlantic Ocean in the coming months regarding the neighborhood’s ongoing quest to add some much-needed studio space. Afrikmall, the city’s recently opened bazaar for all things African culture on East Colfax Avenue, is tentatively planning on converting as much as 10,000 square feet of space in its now-empty third floor into some sort of creative space for local artists. “The idea at this point is to have some artists form a co-op and then basically rent the space for their studios,” said Cobina Lartson, founder and CEO of Afrikmall. . . .
     Ward I City Councilwoman Sally Mounier said she’s optimistic that additional studio spaces would provide both Afrikmall and the ACAD with a needed jump-start. “It’s still in the preliminary stages, nothing is inked, but it certainly would be a wonderful addition, frankly, for artists to be on the third floor,” she said. “There’s plenty of parking, the light is apparently good — I’m hopeful.”
Mounier added that the city is in the process of issuing a request for proposal that calls for a feasibility study that would determine how the local arts district could be improved. “The purpose is to see if the arts district is being utilized to the fullest extent possible,” she said. “What is it that we should be doing to enhance the arts district itself.” . . .
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Aurora mulls special election asking voters to ban or back photo red-light program
Aurora Sentinel 4/22/16, Rachel Sapin
     With the potential for a crowded ballot in November, some Aurora City Council members are looking to have a separate, special election next year where voters could decide whether to keep or remove the city’s lucrative photo red-light program.
At an Aurora City Council public safety policy committee meeting Thursday, April 21, committee members delayed voting on three separate measures that would ask voters this fall whether the city should continue issuing photo red-light tickets to drivers.
Ward I Councilwoman Sally Mounier is behind a measure that would ask voters for a “yes” or “no” on a measure to prohibit the city from issuing photo-red light traffic tickets. Voting “yes” would in effect ban the cameras.
“I’m reluctant to put this on the November ballot,” she said during the meeting. “The November ballot is going to be so contorted with so many issues.” . . .
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DAVA ready to unveil reconstructed studio
Aurora Sentinel 1/15/16, Quincy Snowdon
     After years of fundraising and months of noisy construction, Downtown Aurora Visual Arts is finally ready to show off its shiny new facility on Florence Street. Katelyn Holland adds pieces to Katlin Hutzell's weareable robot suit created at the Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA). Photo by Sara HertwigDAVA, the city’s longstanding bastion of arts education, will unveil a fully overhauled facility during a grand opening ceremony on Jan. 14, marking the completion of a demolition and renovation process that began last summer. . . .
     “I’m proud of the fact that council understands the importance of DAVA and backed it with general fund money,” said Ward I Councilwoman Sally Mounier, whose ward includes the DAVA facility. “It’s just a testimony to the good work that they have done over the past 20 years. This is an institution in urban Aurora.” . . .
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New Hyatt hotel, conference center nears completion in north Aurora
Aurora Sentinel - Biz 12/23/15, Rachel Sapin
     The new Hyatt Hotel and Conference Center is set to open just across from the Anschutz Medical Campus in late March or early April of next year. When complete, the project will boast 249 hotel rooms and 31,500 square feet of conference space, which almost matches the conference capacity of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Denver. Located at 13200 E. 14th Place, the project is 80 percent complete and is entering the final stages of construction, said Deborah Park, a spokesperson for Corporex Colorado, the company constructing the building. When complete, it will also include a terrace that will connect the main building with an adjacent 41,000 sq. ft. parking structure that will house 525 parking spaces. That’s in addition to a large fitness center and outdoor swimming and sun deck included as part of the upscale hotel’s amenities. . . .
     Ward I Councilwoman Sally Mounier, whose ward includes the site of the project, said she expects it will spur even more economic development on the long-empty tracts of land just south of the Anschutz campus. “I think once the Hyatt and the conference center opens up, that’s just the first phase,” she said. She pointed to Stanley Marketplace — another large-scale project that will open next spring just northwest of the conference center at 2501 N. Dallas St. — as another example of a large-scale development finally taking off in North Aurora infill that has been vacant for decades. . . .
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PERRY: Aurora clobbers teams Trump and Cruz for immigrants on Colfax seeking jobs
Aurora Sentinel 12/16/15, Dave Perry
     Nothing like when the home team shines when it’s our turn at bat, and it’s even cooler taking swings at some of the worst America seems endlessly to offer. Aurora city lawmakers are stepping up to the plate to show the metro area, and the world, real solutions to the problem of illegal immigration other than hate. This despite the growing national chant to treat our Latino immigrant neighbors like they are less human than the rest of us. The likes of Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz call their push to expunge the country of millions of undocumented immigrants all kinds of things: the rule of law, border security, fair play. It’s just demagogues inciting hate and fear and then pandering to frightened and misled Americans.
      Not the Americans here in Aurora, however.
      Led by conservative Republican Councilwoman Sally Mounier, whose ward encompasses much of the East Colfax corridor in northwest Aurora, lawmakers this month tentatively agreed to spend $400,000 for a lot at East Colfax Avenue and Dayton Street. They’re creating a sort of day-laborer center, which will be used chiefly by Latino immigrants.
     Everybody wins here, folks. . . .
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Aurora City Council looks at purchasing Colfax lot frequented by day laborers as a temp-job site
Aurora Sentinel 12/16/15, RACHEL SAPIN
     Aurora City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, whose ward encompasses the corner where the day laborers congregate, proposed the city purchase the empty parking lot last summer as one way to clean up the area and provide temporary amenities such as a construction trailer and portable toilets for the workers. . . .
     For more than a decade, the intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Dayton Street has served as a popular place for day laborers to congregate and wait for employers to pick them up. Now city officials are in the process of purchasing the property. . . .
     Aurora City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, whose ward encompasses the corner where the day laborers congregate, proposed the city purchase the empty parking lot last summer as one way to clean up the area and provide temporary amenities such as a construction trailer and portable toilets for the workers. Mounier has long sought the city’s action to improve the safety of drivers and day laborers in the area, with individuals darting from one side of the street to the other to catch a potential employer as they drive by. Mounier said the next step will be to work with El Centro Humanitario — a nonprofit that works with day laborers in Aurora and Denver — as well as area faith organizations to establish the temporary site. . . .
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Aurora City Council approves sales tax incentives for Afrikmall development
Aurora Sentinel 11/23/15, Rachel Sapin
     The slow-going Afrikmall commercial project on East Colfax Avenue is getting another economic boost from the City of Aurora. Omar Ndiaya, owner of Sene Boutique and Sene Restaurant, works with other business owners getting the space ready for opening. Photo by Sara HertwigDuring the Monday, Nov. 23, regular session, Aurora City Council unanimously approved an agreement with Northstar Commercial Partners to provide $165,000 in sales tax incentives for the Afrikmall project. . . .
     “I was able to walk through a month ago, it’s absolutely beautiful,” said Councilwoman Sally Mounier, whose ward encompasses the project. “What they’ve done, and the colors, and what they plan on doing, it’s going to be a wonderful addition to Colfax and our arts district.” . . .
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Aurora sewer rate to rise $1 for 2016
Aurora Sentinel 11/4/15, RACHEL SAPIN
     Sewer rates for Aurora residents will go up by $1 per month starting next year. Greg Baker, a spokesman for Aurora Water, said the $1 per month increase is for a new storm drain fee. “This is due to the large number of drainage improvement projects we have planned in the Westerly and Easterly Creek drainages, as well as in the Fitzsimons area,” he said. . . .
     Aurora City Council gave final approval to the measure on Oct. 26 at a regular city council meeting. City Council members voted 8-1 in favor of the increase, with Councilwoman Sally Mounier as the lone vote of dissent. Councilwoman Renie Peterson was absent from the meeting and did not vote. . . .
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COFFEE MADE SWEET: New Aurora roastery’s specialty? Building community
Aurora Sentinel, 10/30/15, QUINCY SNOWDON
     A Front Range neighborhood without a coffee shop is reminiscent of an 8 a.m. college class. It’s neglected, passed over, and the sorry souls who do in fact pay a visit have little reason or motivation to stay awake, or around, for very long. Okay, maybe the situation isn’t quite that dire, but the gist is clear: Coloradans, and Americans, for that matter, love their coffee. And urban coffee deserts? It’s safe to say they don’t get as much economic love as meccas of steamed milk. As the art of pouring the perfect specialty cup has proliferated in recent years, posh coffee shops have become expected commodities across much of metro Denver. And with that ballooning popularity has come the constant sight of well-off millennials marching through sleek doorways, toting iPhones and privilege.
     But, to the chagrin of optimistic city officials, that jittery trend has been noticeably and painfully absent from much of Aurora. For decades, city planners and community cheerleaders have bemoaned the lack of spaces for residents to sip joe after theater performances and gather for community meetings — a trendy joint to cozy up with a bestseller on a dreary day wouldn’t be the worst thing, either. “There are so many things that we need, but at the top of the list is a place for people to go and hang out,” said Sally Mounier, city councilwoman for Ward I. “We’re not asking for much.”
     As of this fall, Peter Wanberg is aiming to fill that sleepy, uncaffeinated void. Wanberg is the owner and founder of Jubilee Roasting Co., north Aurora’s first roastery and specialty coffee shop, and one of the neighborhood’s newest community gathering places. . . .
     Mounier and other city officials — Mayor Steve Hogan is said to have stopped by a recent Friday night launch party — have long sought a concept essentially mirroring what Wanberg is aspiring to create. “He probably doesn’t know it, but he’s hit a gold mine,” Mounier said. . . .
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Stanley Marketplace project a journey to create a new community at the Aurora-Denver line
Aurora Sentinel 10/29/15, QUINCY SNOWDON,
     For the thousands of Adams and Denver County residents who straddle the municipal line between Aurora and Stapleton, proximity has never equated to familiarity. Physical boundaries such as fences and strategically placed greenways have long divided the two burgs, prohibiting access and chilling opportunities for cross-pollination. In Aurora’s most northwestern pocket, ZIP code 80010 is cordoned off from Stapleton by East 26th Avenue to the north and Westerly Creek to the east, making the waterway somewhat of a local Rio Grande. . . .
     Unifying the ACAD, which sits directly south of the Stanley building, to the Adams County section of the city and beyond has long been a vision of Sally Mounier, city councilwoman for Ward I, who said that she would like to see the city purchase property along Dayton and Dallas Street in order to marry the two zones. “The long-term project is to increase the ACAD up Dayton to the Stanley Marketplace and connect the two,” she said. “It would just be wonderful to bring people who would not consider coming to the art district, have them enjoy themselves, talk about it and come back. That’s my ultimate goal.” And although Mounier’s dream of having the city scoop up more property in north Aurora has yet to catch much traction, Aurora has not held back in providing business incentives to the surrounding area. . . .
     Mounier said she believes that cohesion between the adjacent, yet historically divergent, neighborhoods will only flourish going forward. “I honestly don’t think there’s going to be any hesitation on the part of the folks from Stapleton to commingle with folks south of (East) 25th (Avenue),” she said. “I think they’re thrilled to death with what Stanley is doing — really everybody is. I can’t see that this is going to do anything but make the area better for everybody.” . . .
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Councilwoman pushes live where you work program at Anschutz campus
Denver Post, 10/26/15, Carlos Illescas
     With housing prices skyrocketing, a proposed program that has worked in other areas of the country would help potential homebuyers so they can live near work and improve the quality of their lives. While there are many hurdles to overcome, Aurora City Councilwoman Sally Mounier and real estate broker Marianne Farrell are urging the Anschutz Medical Campus to help employees and students secure housing through their Live Where You Work initiative.       Under that initiative, employers at the medical campus would give employees and students $17,500 for a down payment toward the purchase of a home, with some of that going for rehabilitating the house. At the end of five years, if the employee lives in the house and works on the campus, the money would be forgiven. Next month, Mounier will meet with a leadership group of employers at the Anschutz Medical Campus to pitch her proposal.       While there have been initial discussions with campus officials, there has been no financial commitment. Mounier hopes employers will realize the benefits. The program could help reverse the extremely low homeownership rate in a part of the city that is economically depressed. "I can't see anybody on the campus not seeing the value of this," Mounier said. "Just the PR value alone ... Think of attracting a doctor for the faculty and he can go to the University of Wyoming or come here and we've got this program and they don't. Where's he going to go?" . . .
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Aurora voters to consider anti-incentive repeal measure for race track
The Denver Post 10/11/15, Carlos Illescas
     There isn't a motorsports racetrack coming anytime soon, but voters here will be asked in November to consider a measure that would let the city offer incentives for such a development. The initiative — Ballot Question 2J and led by Aurora City Councilwoman Sally Mounier — asks voters whether they want to repeal a 1999 ballot measure that prohibits the city from offering incentives to racetrack developers. . . .
     ISC and NASCAR have no plans to build a racetrack here in the foreseeable future, Mounier said. But if they come calling again, Mounier wants Aurora to be ready to offer financial incentives should the city want a racetrack. "Absolutely no one has contacted me or anyone else regarding building a racetrack, and they won't as long as the language is in the charter," Mounier said. . . .
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FACING RACE: Aurora Defies National Trends In Confronting Racial Tensions - THE FACE OF A CITY
Aurora Sentinel - Aurora Magazine 9/8/2015, Rachel Sapin
An all-white council governs the most-diverse city in Colorado. It hasn’t always been that way, and a vote this fall may introduce a new hue to Council Chambers. Aurora’s entire City Council is white, despite that the city itself is the most diverse in the state. That’s not to say Aurora has not had some black and Hispanic politicians over the years. The most well-known is Edna Mosley, who served as the first black city council representative and was a longtime community activist. Mosley was elected to the Aurora City Council at-large in 1991 and served three, four-year terms. During her tenure, she was influential in anti-gang programs, local gun control legislation and issues effecting racial equality. . . .
“When I took over this job, I determined very early on as a council member that I was going to represent everybody,” she says. “I don’t care if you’re black, white, or purple polka dots. If you’re walking in my ward and need help, I’m going to help you.” During her tenure as a council member, Mounier has advocated for issues such as providing a safe space for mostly Spanish-speaking day laborers on the corner of Colfax where they congregate. She has proposed that the city purchase the empty parking lot as one way to clean up the area and provide temporary amenities such as a construction trailer and porta-potties for the workers.
But a few years into her tenure as a councilwoman, Mounier says she has trouble attracting immigrant and refugee residents to her town hall meetings. She says is trying to reach out to these residents in her ward, but that it is ultimately up to the voters as to who gets onto Aurora City Council. “There is no place in an elected position for affirmative action,” she says. “It will take care of itself based on the qualifications, on how hard somebody works to get themselves elected. It cannot be based on a person’s race or a person’s gender. It’s an abridgment of our electoral process.” . . .
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Sand Creek Park sees changes in response to R Line stop at Fitzsimons
The Denver Post YourHub 10/1/15, Megan Mitchell
     Outdoor enthusiasts are preparing for a revised renovation of Sand Creek Park, Aurora's only large urban park, north of the Regional Transportation District's R Line tracks along Fitzsimons Parkway. . . .
     "With its proximity to the Anschutz Medical Campus, this project is in an ideal location for students, working professionals, baby boomers and millennials looking for a high-quality living space in a walkable urban environment connected by rail to the rest of the metropolitan area," said Aurora City Council Member Sally Mounier.
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Aurora rolls out new refugee and immigrant integration plan
The Denver Post 9/28/15, Carlos Illescas
     Aurora city officials have unveiled a new plan to integrate the community's growing immigrant and refugee population. The plan, after soliciting input from the public, would launch a three-year endeavor that touches on a variety of aspects for assimilating into Aurora and the country. Nearly one in five people in this city of roughly 340,000 people was born in another country. "This is very unique. We tried to make sure from Day 1 that the community has the opportunity to offer input," said Ricardo Gambetta, an immigrant from Peru who is heading Aurora's new Office of International and Immigrant Affairs. . . .
     City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, whose council district in north Aurora represents many foreigners, said that while the plan calls for funding programs through the private sector and partnerships with nonprofits, the city will also have to step up and set aside money in the budget to implement any integration plan. "If we're going to have an immigrant integration coordinator, we are going to have to have money in the budget to do those things," Mounier said. . . .
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Aurora’s Colfax sculpture inspired by King’s kindness
Aurora Sentinel, 9/25/15, QUINCY SNOWDON
     A dreaming new resident is moving onto East Colfax Avenue this weekend, marking the end of a process that has been more than a decade in the making. Aurora city council members and officials from the city’s Art in Public Places Commission are set to unveil a seven-foot tall brass statue of Martin Luther King Jr. Sept. 26 with a short ceremony in front of the sculpture’s new home beside the MLK Jr. Library at 9898 E. Colfax Ave. . . .
     Initially, the Art in Public Places Commission had proposed about $60,000 for only a bust of King. However, council later approved additional money for a full-sized statue at the behest of Sally Mounier, councilwoman for Ward I. “It’s going to be beautiful — I think it’s going to bring tears to people’s eyes,” Mounier said. “People are going to be very impressed with the statue and I look forward to 30-40 years where people are going to drive down Colfax, look at that statue and think of Martin Luther King and what a great icon he was and is for all.” . . .
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GREEN LIGHT: Aurora voters to be asked to repeal ban on racetrack incentives
Aurora Sentinel 8/9/15, RACHEL SAPIN
     City voters will be asked this fall whether they want to repeal an ordinance that prevents Aurora from giving economic incentives to motor sports facilities, such as a NASCAR-style speedway.
Aurora Economic Development Council President and CEO Wendy Mitchell and Aurora Ward I Councilwoman Sally Mounier spoke to the Sentinel on Tuesday afternoon about measure 2J, which is slated for the municipal ballot for the November 2015 general election.
“Nobody is standing in the wings,” said Mounier in regards to whether the city was being courted by NASCAR or another motor sports entity. “We’re not jiving anybody. This is just the right thing to do for the City of Aurora and regionally.” . . .
     Earlier this year, Mounier said she was proposing the referendum not because of any behest from a possible developer, but simply as a matter of principle.
“I’m doing this because I think it’s the right thing to do, and the timing seems to be right,” Mounier said in late January after introducing the idea at a city Management and Finance committee meeting. “I think the (city) charter is not a place to discriminate against a particular business.” . . .
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Public Meeting
Tuesday August 16, 2015
     News release announcing a public meeting Forest City Stapleton will hold on Tuesday, August 18th (6:30 – 8 pm) to brief the community on the proposed development of that portion of Stapleton that lies within the City of Aurora. . . .

 

Stapleton pushes into Aurora with last big development at old airport
Denver Post 8/16/15, Carlos Illescas
     It's the beginning of the end of the transformation of the former Stapleton International Airport into a sustainable residential community, as the last major parcel of residential property south of Interstate 70 is slated to break ground next year. And it will be Stapleton's first venture into the city limits of Aurora. Master developer Forest City has announced its final major residential project on 101 acres south of East 26th Avenue, stretching from Fulton to Moline streets in Aurora. It's a project that will bring 322 single-family homes and 25 acres of park land and trails that will connect Denver and Aurora. "That is the last major development," said Tom Gleason, spokesman for Forest City Stapleton. "This would basically, for all purposes, complete most of the development south of I-70." . . .
     For Aurora city leaders, the announcement by Forest City to expand into the city is one that they've been waiting to hear for a very long time. The Anschutz Medical Campus is just down the road from Stapleton, and adding new housing in a place where people can bike or walk to the campus has been part of the city's long-term vision. "It will add so much to urban Aurora," City Councilwoman Sally Mounier said. "If you work on campus, you'll be able to go out on East 25th Avenue and have a beer at the beer garden at Stanley Marketplace. . . .
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North Aurora homes plan to complete city’s connection to Stapleton development
Aurora Sentinel 8/13/2015, RACHEL SAPIN with Quincy Snowdon.
     Yet another development is bridging the vacant spaces that have long separated older Aurora neighborhoods from their snazzier Stapleton counterparts to the north. Developer Forest City Enterprises, Inc. — which started buying up tracts of former Stapleton land from the federal government more than 10 years ago — is finally completing the Aurora portion of the former international airport-turned-suburbia. The plan includes proposed residential development south of 26th Avenue between Fulton Street and Moline Street, where Forest City plans to build 322 single-family attached and detached homes priced between $250,000 to $450,000.
     “This has been much anticipated,” said Aurora City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, whose ward encompasses the new development. She said this is the first time she has seen new development on this scale in her ward. “Most of us are living in homes, that at least south of Colfax, and even north of Colfax, were built after World War II,” she said. “The house I live in was built in 1952.” . . .
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City council nixes request to collect coin-op taxes in Aurora
Aurora Sentinel 6/29/2015, RACHEL SAPIN
     The City of Aurora will not start collecting a controversial sales tax from coin-operated laundromats and self-service car washes after all, city lawmakers agreed at a study session Monday night.
     “This is really taxing the poor,” said Aurora City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, one of five council members who voted against enforcing a long-overlooked portion of Aurora’s tax code that allows the city to collect a 3.75 percent sales tax on coin-operated businesses. . . .
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Aurorans won't vote on becoming city and county this fall
Denver Post 6/15/15, Carlos Illescas
     The first step for Aurora to become a city and county won't go to voters this fall, and the idea appears to be on life support despite the city having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars studying the topic. Lack of support by the Aurora City Council because of how much it would cost to consolidate into a city and county has pushed back a proposed ballot measure. And the initiative — long the dream of Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan — might be done for the foreseeable future, if not longer. Aurora currently lies in three counties: Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas.
"The whole push for city and county quietly died," said Aurora City Councilman Bob LeGare. "I think it's dead for another five to 10 years."
Aurora City Councilwoman Sally Mounier was even harsher on the future of Aurora becoming a city and county. She questions why the city is even considering it given that there has been no public sentiment to do it. Mounier said future attempts should be shot down as well. "Not another dime should be spent on a study," Mounier said. "If this gets traction and gets on the ballot in 2016, I will work doubly hard to see it is defeated in the city. This is not the way to go." . . .
     Mounier said her biggest concern on the city-county issue is that residents aren't clamoring for it. "For me, what was more important was that nobody is asking for this," Mounier said. "The public is very happy how things are right now."
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No decision or announcement on the fate of Aurora City Manager Skip Noe
Aurora Sentinel, 2/23/15, RACHEL SAPIN
     Despite the Aurora City Council meeting in executive session with City Manager Skip Noe for two hours Monday night, officials made no announcement of Noe’s fate after a contingent of city lawmakers said they would press for his retirement.
     “Mayor Steve Hogan listens to a city council study session as City Manager Skip Noe, center and left from Hogan, looks on. Five city councilwomen have been critical of Noe, asking for him to retire. Rachel Sapin/Aurora SentinelFive city council members, all women, said Noe has treated them dismissively and been critical of his performance. Noe has denied the claims that he treats the women lawmakers differently than others. Other council members have defended the top city administrator, who has held the position since 2010.
     “We need to talk more. We need more time,” said Councilwoman Sally Mounier, following a closed session with the entire city council. “It’s a good thing.” . . .
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Aurora officials plan to meet again about City Manager Skip Noe
The Denver Post, 2/23/15, Carlos Illescas
     City manager Skip Noe, the City Council and the mayor met Monday afternoon in an executive session to hash out concerns that Noe treats women on the Aurora council differently than the men.
     While the group met for nearly two hours, they did not come up with a resolution. Officials could not discuss what was talked about in the closed-door session.
     Councilwoman Sally Mounier said the discussion was "very good" but added there is not a set date when they will talk about the issue again.
     "We did not have enough time," Mounier said. "We need to talk more." . . .
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AURORA’S CHANGING NEIGHBORHOODS: New hope for Hoffman Heights
Aurora Sentinel, 2/19/15, Rachel Sapin
     A modest development to solve a post-War housing shortage, Hoffman Heights may soon be the hottest brand going for well-paid Anschutz workers. The nearly 1,700 single-family houses built after World War II in Hoffman Heights, in north Aurora, once served military families on the Fitzsimons Medical Hospital and Lowry Air Force Base. Now the quaint homes sit a mile from the booming Anschutz Medical Campus and two light rail stations that will open as part of the Interstate 225 line next year.
     Aurora Councilwoman Sally Mounier wants to make the area more attractive to prospective buyers, which is why she has worked with metro real estate agent Marianne Farrell to mail fliers to 700 registered voters in the historic neighborhood to let them know they can renovate and expand their homes.
     “Overall, it will help the neighborhood,” Mounier said of the fliers, which give a brief history of Hoffman Heights, descriptions of nearby amenities as well as a phone number and address for the city’s Permit Center. “Think about that campus, with now 21,000 workers on it, people who want to live near their work.”
     The fliers are part of the pair’s “Live Where You Work Campaign,” an effort the women launched last spring to encourage more home ownership in neighborhoods surrounding the Anschutz campus. . . .
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A green flag for Aurora’s racetrack future?
Aurora Sentinel 7/6/15, RACHEL SAPIN
     An Aurora racetrack has been unthinkable for years thanks to a rule that prohibits the city from offering financial incentives to a racetrack developer. That could finally change.
     The ordinance, which dates back to 1999, does the city no favors, says Councilwoman Sally Mounier. That’s why she is proposing a referendum for the 2016 election that would ask Aurora voters to repeal the rule.
     Mounier said she’s not motivated to put the issue on the ballot because she’s been approached by a developer about a potential raceway in the city.
     “I’m doing this because I think it’s the right thing to do, and the timing seems to be right,” she says. “I think the (city) charter is not a place to discriminate against a particular business.”
     She introduced the idea at city council’s Management and Finance committee meeting Jan. 28 where it was unanimously approved by city council committee members. . . .
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Study says Aurora city-county conversion could save taxpayers $10 million a year
Aurora Sentiel 10/21/14, Rachel Sapin
     A new phase of a study focusing on creating an Aurora city-county government estimates that the same services Aurora residents now get would cost about $10 million a year less if the city created a unified municipal-county entity similar to Denver and Broomfield.
     That’s according to the preliminary results of a study by TischlerBise, a firm commissioned by the city council to examine the issue. The firm found that Aurora could could see cost-savings through duplicated roles in city departments and functions currently provided by overlapping counties, and by contracting with Arapahoe County for jail space. . . .
     Not everyone on the city council was impressed with the study. Councilwoman Renie Peterson said she was concerned that much of the savings came from decreasing the number of city staff in departments from what those departments would cost to operate if they were fully-staffed. . . .
     The earliest Aurora could form a city-county government is 2020. The state Legislature would have to agree to ask voters in the 2016 General Election whether they want to amend the Colorado Constitution and turn Aurora into a city and county. That process worries some council members.
     “Do you believe Arapahoe County Commissioners are going to give up all this and create a east and west Arapahoe County?” asked Councilwoman Sally Mounier. “Do you think folks in Adams County are going to give up Stanley Marketplace and Anschutz?” . . .
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VIDEO - Stanley Market Place Groundbreaking
ABC/CHANNEL 7, KMGH -TV , originally aired at 6 p.m. on Thursday, 10/2
     Concerning the coming Stanely Market Place, Sally Mounier states "Economic Development such as this spurs more economic development, trickling out into our neighborhoods and making this entire area thrive and prosper."
View Video

 

Abandoned Stanley aviation factory taking flight as Aurora biz hub
Aurora Sentinel 9/26/14, Quincy Snowdon
     For more than 50 years, the titanic Stanley Aviation facility in the northwest corner of Aurora stood as a bulwark of invention and innovation. Now, the factory that seemed to have closed its doors on Aurora forever is harnessing those same ideals and embarking on the newest chapter in its long and storied existence.
     The Stanley building will be getting a major facelift over the next 12 months as it is converted into Stanley Marketplace, a mixed-use urban market slated to house over three dozen vendors that range from specialty retail shops to fitness centers.
     “We have a really diverse merchandising plan, so there’s real versatility and flexibility, with a combination of restaurants, retailers, fitness components and a lot of kids programming coming in, so it’s a nice balance,” Mark Shaker, one of the founding partners of Flightline Ventures, the development team spearheading the project said. “We’re working to put together a group of like-minded businesses that share values and principles but then also can drive activity here 18 hours a day so there’s a constant flow and a reason to be here in the morning, afternoon and the evening.” . . .
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Anschutz medical campus digs into the meet of the matter: Aurora conference center
Aurora Sentinel 9/22/14, Quincy Snowdon
     The crown that is Aurora’s Fitzsimons redevelopment area is getting a shiny new jewel.
Corporex Colorado, the commercial development giant that has been instrumental in revamping the blossoming area of north Aurora, broke ground on a new Hyatt hotel and posh conference center Sept. 17.
“This is such a welcome addition and it’s something we have desperately needed in urban Aurora,” Sally Mounier, Aurora city councilwoman for north Aurora said. “The economic impact that’s going to be spurred will create even more development, which is going to trickle out into our neighborhoods and allow them to really prosper.” . . .
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Aurora to ramp up Montview Park, realign Westerly Creek
Your Hub, Denver Post 9/11/14, Megan Mitchell
     More than 30 years after its last face-lift, Montview Park in northwest Aurora is getting a full renovation to include community gardens, a new basketball court, an amphitheater and a skate area.
The park improvements won't begin until the end of next summer, however, because Aurora Water is about to start construction on a yearlong realignment of Westerly Creek, which flows through the 9-acre park. The project will force the creek to bend around the new amenities, creating a more sinuous, interactive flow through the park. . . .
     "This is going to be a wonderful addition to the neighborhood," said Ward 1 Councilwoman Sally Mounier. "I predict this is going to be the place to live in 10 years." . . .
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New, temporary home for steadfast bike charity
Aurora Sentinel, 9/3/14, Brandon Johansson
     Ernie Clark and his team of volunteers won’t shiver as they wrench on bikes this winter.
After several years assembling and repairing bikes for needy children from a garage behind Aurora Warms the Night, Clark and his team moved their operation last spring to the basement of Kim Robard’s Dance Studio near East Colfax Avenue and Del Mar Parkway.
The sprawling basement should be warmer and less cramped than the garage.
“This is like three times as big as the garage that we had,” Clark said as an air compressor hummed and volunteers worked on some of the more than 250 bikes Clark has gathered. . . .
     But Clark said he isn’t sure how long he will be in the building. He said he expects to be there through the end of the year, but the owners are planning on selling so he is looking for a new home.
City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, who represents northwest Aurora on council, said Clark and his program are an asset to the community, so finding a permanent home — preferably somewhere in northwest Aurora — is important.
“If not on Colfax itself, then on 16th or 14th, close by,” she said.
City staff is already on the lookout for a location that would work, she said.
“Ernie and the bike shop are not off the radar by any stretch of the imagination,” she said.
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New center for Downtown Aurora Visual Arts is on track to break ground
The Denver Post, 08/19/2014, Megan Mitchell
     Fundraising organizers for the Downtown Aurora Visual Arts center are nearly finished with a three-year capital campaign to expand the 20-year-old building in the Aurora Cultural Arts District. Susan Jenson, executive director of the group, said $1.4 million out of a needed $1.7 million is in the bank. Right now, the nonprofit art education and youth intervention organization at 1405 Florence St. is a rough collection of storefronts that were all purchased and patched together at different times more than a decade ago. The renovation and expansion project will repurpose all of the existing space and add about 1,600 square feet of new space for a flowing, 8,500 square foot facility complete with a new ceramics room, more studio space and extra instructional rooms. . . .
     Ward 1 Councilwoman Sally Mounier said she's glad to see that Downtown Aurora Visual Arts is on the verge of its long-awaited renovation. "DAVA has been part of this neighborhood for years and years," Mounier said. "They're an integral part of this community, and they do a great job with the kids. I'm pleased that they're close to their goal and are going to be expanding." . . .
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Aurora committee cold on photo-radar vans in school zones
The Denver Post 08/06/2014, Carlos Illescas
      A proposal to use photo-radar vans in Aurora school zones on Tuesday received a lukewarm response from a City Council committee studying the issue, but it decided to forward the measure to the full council anyway for consideration. Among the questions were if the vans reduce the number of accidents in school zones, the cost of the program and whether too much Big Brother is a good idea, given that Aurora already employs cameras at some intersections to catch motorists who run red lights. . . .
     City Councilwoman Sally Mounier said she wanted to see studies that would show if the vans reduce accidents in school zones. "I see this as an exercise in futility," she said. . . .
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Aurora's landmark Red Cross building to be razed; gazebo to be built.
The Denver Post 07/29/2014 ,Carlos Illescas
     It's one of the oldest buildings on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus: the iconic Red Cross building that first opened on what was then the Fitzsimons Army Base in 1918 as World War I was coming to a close. . . .
     The building will be torn down, and in its place will be a gazebo, with benches and memorial commemorating the building, a place where students can study, reflect and learn of the wars that have happened in the past century.
      The landscaping is going to be open," Aurora City Councilwoman Sally Mounier said. "The intention is to get students to come through the gazebo. It's right next to the library."   After trying to raise money to renovate the building, university officials realized it would be cost-prohibitive to give the Red Cross building a complete makeover. . . .
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Aurora’s Saving Race: Preserving historical sites
Aurora Sentinel 07/03/14, Rachel Sapin
     Are nearly a hundred years of memories worth $5 million dollars? That is the approximate cost, according to University of Colorado officials, it would take to renovate the boarded-up, long-abandoned Red Cross building that sits in the center of the Anschutz Medical Campus on East Montview Boulevard.
     City and university officials met July 1 as part of an ad hoc committee to address what to do with the strikingly white Mission Revival-style building, whose original cruciform structure and red-tiled roof dates back to 1918.
     “Everybody has a story about the Red Cross Building,” said Councilwoman Sally Mounier. The structure was built as a temporary entertainment and gathering space for patients and soldiers during World War I and comforted them well into World Word II (where two additional wings were added) — even into the Vietnam War.
     Mounier, who is chairing the committee and whose ward includes the Anschutz campus, said she would like to see the building memorialized. . . .
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Aurora to promote its recreational opportunities in the mountains
The Denver Post 5/13/14, Carlos Illescas
     Many people know about the Denver Mountain Parks system: Red Rocks, Echo Lake, Winter Park and O'Fallon Park, to name a few of the 22 accessible parks and 24 conservation areas on 14,000 acres over several counties. Aurora has recreational assets in the mountains, too. It's just that not many people know about them — or, if they do, they don't know they are an Aurora amenity.
     But that's about to change. Aurora officials are launching an effort to better promote the resources outside city limits, with long-term plans to acquire more assets. "A lot of people don't even know these opportunities exist," said Marshall Brown, director of Aurora Water. "Other entities have gone out there and publicized what they have. We actually have done some of that; we just haven't done a good job of publicizing that."
     The idea to promote an Aurora mountain parks system comes from City Councilwoman Sally Mounier. She was thinking about all the assets Aurora has in the mountains and how good the Denver Mountain Parks system is, and had an idea to better promote what Aurora is doing in the high country. . . .
     Mounier said it may take Aurora 100 years as well to secure a mountain park system similar to Denver's, but acquiring something so beneficial to the community is worth it. "Getting a mountain park system going and having places for people, not just Aurorans, and visitors to come and experience our beautiful mountains, having a place to stay, camping facilities, is important," she said. . . .
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Aurora city-county details taking shape
Aurora Sentinal 05/09/14Rachel Sapin
     City lawmakers are getting closer to defining what kind of city-county Aurora could become. At a special study session May 3, Aurora City Council gave initial approval to keep a council-manager form of government with part-time rather than full-time council members as part of an ongoing study of what it would take for Aurora to make the switch. . . .
     Council narrowly approved on an informal vote of 6-4 to appoint rather than elect all six county-required positions. Those include an assessor, clerk and recorder, coroner, sheriff, surveyor and treasurer. Mayor Steve Hogan voted as a tiebreaker in favor of moving forward with the decisions, with council members Molly Markert, Renie Peterson, Debi Hunter Holen, and Sally Mounier voting against the measure. . . .
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Lawmakers say council job descriptions should come before raises
Aurora Sential 05/08/14Rachel Sapin
     City lawmakers last week reversed a measure that would have bypassed asking voters to pay city council members $100 stipends for some committee meetings they attend.
     Council members voted 9-1 to table the measure April 28, with councilman Bob Roth voting to keep it.
     “We started to get emails from constituents that said this is the wrong way to go,” said Ward I Councilwoman Sally Mounier. If the measure had been approved, it would have provided the pay increase without having to go to voters. . . .
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Aurora lawmakers give first OK to additional pot-shop license benchmarks
Aurora Sentinel 04/22/14 and Date, Rachel Sapin
      In an effort to pare down applicants for limited recreational marijuana shop licenses, Aurora lawmakers tentatively approved additional criteria as part of an already-elaborate recreational marijuana store-license system expected to start screening potential owners in July.
      One category would reward applicants who provide detailed financial structure and a staffing plan, their proposed pay and benefits package, employee training programs and manuals, and a list of best practices for the industry. Another benchmark would reward those joining trade associations. . . .
     Council members Molly Markert, Bob LeGare, Bob Broom, and Sally Mounier voted against all of the new points categories. . . .
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Aurora eyeing "Live Where You Work" program for Anschutz campus
The Denver Post, 4/7/2014, Carlos Illescas
     In an effort to put a dent in the extremely low homeowner rates in a part of north Aurora, a city councilwoman and a real estate broker have started an initiative to improve those numbers. The 80010 ZIP code has a 64 percent tenant occupancy rate and just a 36 percent homeowner occupancy rate — a reversal of the national numbers. In that area is the sprawling University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, where doctors, lab technicians and many of the campus' 17,000 workers commute from Denver and other parts of the metro area.
     Councilwoman Sally Mounier and real estate agent Marianne Farrell have teamed to start the "Live Where You Work" program. The goal is to get owners of run-down apartment buildings that are rentals to rehabilitate those buildings, turn them into condominiums and sell them so working professionals at and near the medical and research campus and others can purchase them. . . .
     Development in the immediate area surrounding the medical campus in the seven years it has been open has been slow because of the Great Recession. Plans for condos and townhomes just haven't materialized yet. So Mounier, who represents that part of the city, and Farrell came up with an idea to encourage apartment owners to take advantage of the tax deferment program. Mounier said the low percentage of homeowners in that area is not acceptable. "We are determined to get more home ownership in my ward," she said. "The owner-occupancy rate is just not healthy." . . .
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Anschutz Medical Campus forms partnership for community outreach
The Denver Post 3/31/14, Carlos Illescas
     In an economically depressed part of the city sits the shiny University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, a 7-year-old state-of-the-art health and research hub that rivals any in the country.
     Yet, up until the past year or two, the campus along a gritty stretch of East Colfax Avenue in Aurora west of Interstate 225 might as well have been in another country for those who live close to it, said Aurora City Councilwoman Sally Mounier.      "That was the impression the neighborhoods had with this campus itself, that it was built with a glass wall around it," Mounier said. . . .
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Aurora cops put the pinch on burglaries
Aurora Sentinel, 3/28/14, Brandon Johansson
     Among property crimes, few leave their victims feeling as violated as a home burglary.
“That’s somebody in your house, for an unknown period of time going through your personal stuff,” said Aurora police Commander Kevin Flynn. Flynn oversees District No. 1, which stretches from Interstate 225 west to the city line and includes some of the city’s older and higher-crime neighborhoods.
But last year, after several years of sustained success combating burglaries, police saw the crime spike. In response, Aurora police this summer are adding officers to a specialized team called the Burglary Impact Group to combat the crime again. . . .
     Aurora City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, who represents northwest Aurora, said she doesn’t mind seeing officers shuffled around if it means the number of burglaries fall. “That’s a small sacrifice we can make to make sure the bad guys know we know where they are, and that we’re going to go after them,” she said. . . .
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Article Aurora residents won't vote on city-county this fall
The Denver Post 3/25/14, Carlos Illescas
     The city of Aurora won't ask voters this fall whether they want to become a city and county, and a potential statewide ballot initiative won't happen until at least 2016 or 2018. . . .
     Councilwoman Sally Mounier said it will be tough to get voters who are receiving services now — mainly in Arapahoe County — to go for a city-county. Most Aurora residents — about 88 percent — live in Arapahoe County. About 12 percent reside in Adams County, while a fraction live in Douglas County. "In my judgment, we should drop the whole thing because we're not going to be able to sell it," Mounier said. . . .
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Introducing the Aurora Arts District
Front Porch Stapleton, 3/1/14, Laurie Dunklee
     Once seedy, downtrodden and crime-ridden, East Colfax in Aurora is transforming into a thriving arts district. Run-down pawn shops and drug dealers are giving way to a lively arts scene that includes multiple professional theaters, galleries, dance and arts education—all just minutes from Stapleton with the new roads that connect to Aurora.
     Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., welcomed audiences totaling 13,000 this year, a 41 percent increase over last year. “Aurora has been great,” said Craig Bond, executive artistic producer. “The city is invested in helping cultural organizations grow.” . . .
     Aurora also supports the district by providing extra safety measures. Sally Mounier, the district’s city councilwoman, is committed to making ACAD a safe destination for fun.
     “For the district to be walkable, people have to feel safe,” Mounier said. “Colfax has 26 miles of bad reputation, from Aurora to Lakewood. I have to ensure the public feels safe. Tracy and the other artists are in place to do good things. My role as city councilwoman is to move heaven and earth to help them get it done.” . . .
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Aurora supporters look forward to backyard chickens this summer
YourHub - Denver Post, 03/06/2014 Megan Mitchell
     Chickens will soon land in the backyards of Aurora residents who launched a grassroots campaign last spring to end the city's ban on urban chicken farming.
     "A year ago, myself and two other ladies were sitting at my kitchen table, talking about how to get chickens in Aurora," said Ward I councilwoman Sally Mounier. "We decided that we would have a grassroots campaign, and (we do)."
     Mounier was looking out to a crowd of nearly 100 residents who packed the council chambers for a public hearing Feb. 24 to argue for their right to keep up to four hens in their backyards. . . .
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Parts of Denver and Aurora still make list for flipping homes
The Denver Post 02/06/2014, Howard Pankratz
     Although there were fewer fix-and-flip homes in Colorado in 2013, two metro Denver area codes are rated among the best markets in the United States for real estate investors to flip homes to "hipsters."
     In 2013, Colorado saw 3,071 fix-and-flip sales, defined as a purchase and resale that occur within six months of each other. That is down from 3,492 in 2012 and 5,001 in 2011.   But RealtyTrac said in a report released Thursday that the top 20 ZIP codes for profitable flipping to hipsters — defined as people ages 25 to 34 — included Denver's 80204 and Aurora's 80010. . . .
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PERRY: Press one for English, press hard to get Aurora beyond its fear of Mexican immigrants
Aurora Sentinel 08/08/13, Dave Perry
      . . . But [discrimination and bigotry for] illegal and legal Mexican immigrants? We’re getting there. Aurora, and the entire country, made a long-needed leap forward during the past few months as Congress started relenting on the inevitable legal integration of millions of illegal immigrants. There are easily many thousands of those immigrants here in Aurora. For years they have been the consternation of a wide range of fellow Aurora residents, complaining about the appearance of signs in Spanish, thick Mexican accents, Mexican radio stations and foods never before seen by middle-class Front Range eyes. . .
     [Mexican immigrants] just can’t do things legally because we have an intellectually constipated Congress that won’t create ways for Mexican immigrants to have some kind of legal status to stay and work here.     That’s changing. Here in Aurora, Councilwoman Sally Mounier, a Republican, is asking the city to help create a center where illegal Mexican immigrants can come to get help with finding a job, a home, health care and education. While her predecessors have fought tirelessly against similar ideas, the times and attitudes have finally changed. The wisdom of seeing that these immigrants are not going anywhere and that we all benefit from their integration is apparent to almost everyone. . . .
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Aurora’s New Foreign Relations
Aurora Sentinel 7/25/13, Sara Castellanos
     Five years ago, most city lawmakers balked at an idea to create a safe-haven for foreign-born immigrants new to Aurora. Now, one city council member is spearheading an effort to launch an “immigrant center” in north Aurora, where foreigners can congregate, look for day-jobs, take job-training classes and learn American history and English. And, the idea is gaining traction.
     An influx of immigrants and refugees calling Aurora home and the evolving attitude toward illegal immigrants both nationally and locally are some environmental factors making it more plausible for Councilwoman Sally Mounier’s idea to come to fruition. . . .
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Council asks Coffman to pass immigration bill
Aurora Sentinel 7/25/13, Sara Castellanos
     U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, said he stands with Aurora City Council’s support for comprehensive immigration reform, but doesn’t agree with their view that the U.S. Senate immigration bill should be passed into law.
     Eight Aurora City Council members signed on to a letter sent to the Colorado’s congressional delegation earlier this month to support an immigration bill passed in the U.S. Senate in June and waiting for a U.S. House vote. It’s not unusual for local governments to advocate for federal laws, Coffman said. . . .
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Aurora City Council Sends Letter to Congress Asking for Immigration Action
Aurora Sentinel 7/18/13, Sara Castellanos
     Nine Aurora City Council members are urging Colorado’s congressional delegation to support an immigration reform bill passed in the U.S. Senate last month and waiting for a U.S. House vote.
     The city council members who voiced support are: Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, Council members Bob LeGare, Bob Broom, Barb Cleland, Debi Hunter Holen, Molly Markert, Sally Mounier and Brad Pierce. Council members Bob Roth and Marsha Berzins did not sign on to the letter.
     A letter by the council members was sent to the state’s congressional delegation July 18 asking them to act on immigration reform as soon as possible. . .
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RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Council agrees to keep photo cameras in place for another year
Aurora Sentinel 7/11/13, Sara Castellanos
     Some residents and council members say the city’s extending its powers too far by videotaping drivers at intersections.
     Local lawmakers gave the go ahead to keep photo red light cameras operating for at least another year despite criticism that surveillance cameras infringe on privacy.
     Aurora City Council members voted 7 to 4 to extend the city’s contract with Xerox State and Local Solutions Inc. to operate the systems at 14 intersections. Council members Marsha Berzins, Bob Broom, Sally Mounier and Renie Peterson voted no. . . .
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Sally Mounier's Statement at City Council Session, July 8 2013.
"I will be voting against this measure and allow me to explain why. When government such as ours has among its powers the right to tax, fine, impose fees and remit punishment on its citizens , that government must exercise extreme caution not to cross the line that invades a person's privacy. In my view, Aurora has crossed that line and is on a very slippery slope. I would urge my colleagues to join me in voting against this measure."

 

Aurora News Briefs: Water restrictions eased, city allows three days a week. Photo red light system renewed. Work along I-225
Your Hub, Denver Post 7/11/13
     Aurora City Council voted 7-4 on July 8 to extend its contract with Xerox State and Local Solutions for its photo red light enforcement system.
     Proponents said the cameras helped improve traffic safety and changed drivers’ behaviors. Opponents said that it is intrusive and is a cash grab for the city.
     Council members Marsha Berzins, Bob Broom, Sally Mounier and Renie Peterson voted no.. . .
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Officials: Colfax Corridor Crime Dips 7 percent as a Result of Increased Surveillance and Patrols
Aurora Sentinel 6/6/13, Sara Castellanos
     Crime along Aurora’s East Colfax Avenue corridor decreased 7 percent from 2011 to 2012 officials from the Aurora Police Department told the Aurora City Council’s Public Safety Committee at its June 4 meeting. Police officials attribute the drop of 103 total crimes to the presence of surveillance cameras and more officers patrolling the area. A total of 1,360 “Part 1” crimes were reported in 2012 on East Colfax Avenue between Yosemite Street and Laredo Street, a decrease from 1,463 crimes reported in the same area in 2011. “Part 1” crimes include burglary, larceny, murder, rape and robbery. . . .
     Councilwoman Sally Mounier, a member of the Public Safety Committee, said more work needs to be done on Colfax. “My No. 1 budget priority is reducing crime on Colfax,” she said. . . .
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Backyard chicken issues continue to ruffle feathers on Front Range
The Denver Post 5/29/2013, Jeremy P. Meyer
     Chickens have long been a source of passion and politics, ranging from campaign promises of a "chicken in every pot" to animal-rights protesters donning chicken costumes at rallies. Today, along Colorado's Front Range, chickens are at the heart of a boiling debate — call it backyard politics, if you will. The urban livestock movement has been gaining speed over the past few years with cities around the nation passing laws in support of backyard chickens. . . .
     Aurora City Council a few years ago also discussed allowing chickens in residential areas but the idea never got out of a study session. New councilwoman Sally Mounier now is leading a group to get an ordinance approved. "It takes my vote and five more," she said. "I don't think that the council understands there is a groundswell of support." . . .
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CENTER DILEMMA: City looks at creating ‘resiliency center’
Aurora Sentinel 2/7/13, Sara Castellanos
     An idea to open a temporary therapeutic center for residents affected by the July 20 theater massacre and other tragedies is garnering mixed feelings from some Aurora City Council members.
     The “Resiliency Center” would offer individual and group counseling, art and music therapy programs, physical activity programs and maybe even on-site primary medical care, and it would be open to all Aurora residents who have experienced any kind of trauma. . . .
     Councilwoman Sally Mounier said she is confident that victims of traumatic experiences will take advantage of the resources that would be offered at the center. She said she’s met with a survivor of the 1999 Columbine shootings whose family continues to be traumatized by mass shootings still to this day. There are people who will continue to be emotionally affect- ed by the July 20 shootings even if they don’t show signs of trauma or shock now, she said.. . .
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Aurora weighs proposed firearm laws/gun-control legislation
Denver Post 1/15/13, Kurtis Lee w/ Sadie Gurman
     Members of the Aurora City Council on Monday discussed how to proceed with taking official positions on the array of gun-control legislation set to be presented in the coming weeks at the state Capitol.
     In a city scarred by a July mass shooting that left 12 dead and several dozen injured, council members decided that a three-member Public and Intergovernmental Relations Committee would decide official city positions on gun legislation.
     The council could overrule the committee's position. . . .
     Councilwoman Sally Mounier called the discussion of guns by council Monday a "waste of time," saying, "Legislation hasn't even been presented. Why are we talking about this?"
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Ward I council seat a 'perfect fit' for Mounier
Aurora Sentinel 10/11/12, Sara Castellanos
      When human resources worker Sally Mounier was campaigning for sate House in 2010, residents in north Aurora were relaying their concerns about city issues, not state issues.
      "They would say, 'I need a stop sign' or 'I need my trees trimmed.' After a while I started to think maybe I'm running for the wrong office." Mounier said.
      Mounier, a Republican, lost that 2010 election to state Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. But her desire to work in public service was fulfilled Oct, 4, when Mounier was informally appointed to the War I Aurora City Council Seat. . . .
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Sally Mounier wins bid to serve on Aurora City Council
Your Hub, Denver Post 10/11/12, Joey Kirchmer
     Longtime resident Sally Mounier won her bid to serve as the new council representative for a district in northwest Aurora.
     Mounier, 74, was selected last week to represent Ward I, which was vacated recently by outgoing Councilwoman Melissa Miller. Mounier edged out six other candidates for the position, receiving seven of 10 votes from members of the City Council.
     “I am thrilled to death and honored and privileged to be able to represent the people in Ward I,” Mounier said. “They are just the salt of the earth.”
     Mounier, who also works as a career development agent for Re/Max, will hold the seat through the 2013 election. She said she plans to run in the election to keep the position. . . .
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Mounier to fill vacant Ward I council seat
Water Wise, Aurora Water November 1012
     The Aurora City Council has appointed Sally Mounier to fill the Ward I council seat vacated by Melissa Miller. . . .
     Prior to her longtime career in real estate, she held positions in the public arena, including . . .
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