Aurora election results: Mayoral race tilting toward incumbent Coffman, who has declared victory

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday night, challenger Juan Marcano was not prepared to concede the race, citing late 2019 returns that went his way.
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Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman greets former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens during an Election Night watch party for his reelection campaign at JJ’s Place. Nov. 7, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Incumbent Mayor and long-time Republican politician Mike Coffman has declared victory in Aurora's Mayoral race, leading Democrat Councilmember Juan Marcano, and independent newcomer Jeff Sanford as results continue to roll in.

"I think it was a referendum on how to deal with crime," Coffman said. "There's a lot of anxiety about the crime rate in our city."

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, Marcano was not prepared to concede.

"No. In 2019, I was down substantially, so were some of the other Democrats and those margins tightened substantially as the later vote came in," he said. "In fact, in 2019, I won over 65% of the outstanding vote."

At the Coffman watch party at JJ's Place in Aurora, the bar was crowded, the drinks were flowing and the mood was upbeat. People cheered as initial results came out, and continued to cheer as speakers praised the mayoral results. One person held up a new license plate reading TABOR53, as state conservatives celebrated a win in the battle over the statewide tax ballot measure Proposition HH.

Coffman's potential win could have long-term implications for the future of the Aurora government. Earlier this year, he led a controversial effort to expand mayoral authority with the support of a conservative nonprofit. The proposal did not have enough time to make it onto the ballot this year, but with Coffman's potential reelection, the effort to turn Aurora into a strong-mayor system might live on.

It's a nonpartisan race in a diverse and politically divided city. Public safety was a major issue in the race, and something Coffman highlighted in his speech on election night.

"This race was really about issues," he said. "It was about a tough on crime approach... I believe that everyone in the city regardless of where they live have a right to live without fear of being a victim of a crime. And I think they want a result on homelessness on the encampments. We're going to move forward with being more aggressive about abatements, but also being more aggressive about treatments."

Coffman led the way on a controversial urban camping ban, which Aurora City Council passed six to five in 2022.

The likely win also means Coffman's prolific political career continues. Before winning the mayoral seat in 2019, he served  as a Republican representative in the Colorado State House of Representatives, Colorado State Senate, Colorado State Treasurer, Colorado Secretary of State and U.S. House of Representatives between the 1980s and 2010s.

Marcano hoped to be the first Democratic Aurora Mayor in decades. He chose not to run for his Ward IV seat in order to run for Mayor - a gamble that likely will not pay off, with initial results showing Republicans with a strong chance to pick up Marcano's former seat.

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