Chamber: No change on support for Brainard
A promise by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce to “review our position” on Grand Junction City Councilor Rick Brainard — who pleaded guilty to charges of domestic violence stemming from an April 6 incident while he was a councilor-elect — was met Thursday with another pledge to consider its position if a recall election is called.
The chamber endorsed Brainard as a candidate for the City Council, among other supposedly pro-business endorsements. When reports of his arrest became public, the chamber in a Facebook post cited Brainard’s entitlement to due process in responding to calls for the group to renounce its support of him.
“It sends an equally wrong message to our children to condemn without benefit of going through a process where we assume innocence until found guilty by the courts. Once that process has happened we will again review our position on Mr. Brainard,” the post read.
Brainard pleaded guilty — after having a no-contest plea denied by the judge — on May 17. He received an 18-month deferred judgment and sentence. If he stays out of trouble, he can petition to have the conviction wiped from his record.
After multiple inquiries from The Daily Sentinel, the chamber voted during its closed-door regular monthly meeting to release the following statement:
“The GJACC Board of Directors, taking into account new information since the spring City elections, is prepared to take a position on the candidacy of Councilman Brainard if a recall is certified.”
Reached Friday, chamber President and CEO Diane Schwenke said, “The Chamber has never gone back and commented before, or expressed support for, an individual when they are in office.”
“Once they are in office … we comment on their actions and whether or not they are good for business or bad for business,” Schwenke said. “But in terms of whether or not they are fit to serve the office, we’ve never, in all of our history, commented on that.”
“All we’ve done is endorse him and his candidacy in an election process,” she said.
The statement agreed to Thursday seems to position the chamber to again revisit its support for Brainard if a recall effort materializes, something that local opponents to Brainard’s service have said is in the works.
“If a recall is certified, the board will be prepared to jump in with a position with regard to the recall, and the candidates in that recall,” Schwenke said.
When asked directly whether the chamber would pull its support for Brainard if a recall election happens, Schwenke said, “I can’t say that. That will be determined.”
Numerous community groups and organizations who once supported Brainard were quick to cut ties or distance themselves from him as his legal issues played out in court.
Soon after being sworn into office on May 6, Brainard was named as the council’s designated representative to the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.
The GJEP board forced his resignation soon after and current Grand Junction Mayor Sam Susuras was named as his replacement.
The Sentinel, who also endorsed Brainard’s candidacy, called for him to reject his seat in an April 10 editorial.
Brainard also resigned his seat on the Community Hospital Foundation board during his legal entanglements, and he is no longer employed at West Star Aviation, where he once held the position of vice president of business development.