No change 
on support
 for Brainard

Rick 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.


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I find the Chamber’s refusal to simply say that they made a mistake when endorsing Brainard, just as most of the citizens who voted for him did. None of us knew at the time that he would end up pleading guilty in a case involving domestic abuse, there is no shame in saying that a mistake was made. There is, however, a mistake in continuing to support him as a representative of the City of Grand Junction once a guilty plea has been entered. The message it sends is that domestic violence is okay in our community, and I am appalled that the Chamber wants that to be their message. There is a building campaign to boycott businesses that continue to be Chamber members until the Chamber admits that they were wrong in foisting this man upon us.

Apparently the Chamber Board is OK with a convicted criminal on the Council as long as they can pull his strings and get him to vote their way.

Violence against women and children is a public health issue.  Mr. Brainard now has a known and confessed too, public health infirmity of violent behavior to women.  This type of violence is tolerated by silence, inaction and the shrugging of the shoulders by usually law-abiding citizens.
Men that perpetrate violence, any violence, have not learned to be thoughtful in their ability to make decisions and more often then not, make decisions that meet their own immediate needs, forgetting the consequences of their actions.
Mr.Brainard needs help and I find it disgusting that the Chamber, Mayor Susuras and Marty Chaven have done him harm by supporting the poor decision to stay on as a Councilman.  The position puts him and the women of this town and in his life, at risk of his poor decision-making process. 
Brainard and Mayor Susuras’ decision-making processes have proven to be abrupt and disordered.  An example is the decision to reinstate the $6000/year membership to the Chamber, that Diane Schwenke stated clearly the Chamber did not need. 
That’s taxpayer money being wasted.  Another example is the decision to delay the Avalon.  It took huge pressure from the community to make them reverse their stance.
Knee-jerk decision making is a symptom of this malady, as is the illusion of control and thinking that any decision made, is set in stone.  Is that what Grand Junction and Mesa County want for leadership?

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