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Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, left, greets a young supporter Nov. 7, 2023, at a “No On HH" election watch party at JJ’s Place in Aurora. Coffman secured a second term as mayor. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)
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Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, a Republican, appeared headed toward securing a second term on Tuesday as he held a commanding lead over his challenger, City Councilman Juan Marcano, a Democrat, in Colorado’s third-largest city.

Conservative candidates also were poised to win four of five Aurora City Council contests, which would mean conservatives keep a majority on the council.

Voters in municipalities across Colorado decided races Tuesday. Here’s a closer look at some of the top contests.

Conservative candidates leading in Aurora

Coffman, a former congressman, had 55% of the vote in the three-way mayoral contest as of 9 p.m. Marcano had 37% of the vote while the third candidate, Jeff Sanford, had collected 7%.

The incumbent mayor accounted for 23% of the $826,000 spent on the 2023 election by the city’s municipal candidates through Oct. 31, according to campaign finance reports filed with the city Friday. Marcano had spent more than $94,000 through Oct. 31 and had $18,000 left in his campaign’s bank account.

Municipal contests are nonpartisan in Colorado, but all of the candidates running in Aurora — with one exception — are registered as Democrats or Republicans.

Conservative candidates were leading their liberal challengers as of 9:30 p.m. in four of the five City Council contests being decided Tuesday: 

  • Incumbent Francoise Bergman, a Republican, in Ward VI led Democrat Brian Matise
  • At-large Incumbent Angela Lawson, who is registered as unaffiliated, led Democrat Chris Rhodes in Ward V
  • Republican Stephanie Hancock led Democrat Jonathan Gray in Ward IV
  • Incumbent Curtis Gardner, a Republican, and Alison Coombs, a Democrat who was term-limited in her Ward V seat, each had about 22,000 votes as they vied for two at-large council seats. Republican Jono Scott had about 18,000 votes while Thomas Mayes, a Democrat, had about 17,000 votes.

Political spending groups had dropped more than $1 million on Aurora’s municipal races through Oct. 31, with nearly 90% of that going to support the conservative candidates for mayor and City Council.

Strom leads in Lakewood mayoral contest

In Lakewood, City Councilwoman Wendi Strom was leading in the mayoral contest with 47% of the vote compared to 29% for conservative Don Burkhart, and 24% for Cathy Kentner, a city planning commissioner and unaffiliated voter. 

A host of prominent Democrats endorsed Strom, while Jefferson County Republicans endorsed Burkhart. Development was at the heart of the debate in Lakewood’s mayoral race.

Kulmann leads in quest for second term as Thornton mayor

In Thornton, Mayor Jan Kulmann, a Republican who lost the GOP nomination for the 8th Congressional District a year ago, was outpacing her challenger, City Councilwoman Julia Marvin. 

At 9:15 p.m. Kulmann was leading with 54% of the vote to Marvin’s 46%. 

Kulmann outraised Marvin, a Democrat. 

Committees affiliated with Conservation Colorado and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition supported Marvin, while Building Thornton Together and Housing for Colorado supported Kulmann. 

Sandra Fish has covered government and politics in Iowa, Florida, New Mexico and Colorado. She was a full-time journalism instructor at the University of Colorado for eight years, and her work as appeared on CPR, KUNC, The Washington Post, Roll...