Council: Brainard should go
Participants with duct tape over their mouths and eyes blackened out delivered impassioned speeches at Wednesday’s Grand Junction City Council meeting in protest of City Councilor-elect Rick Brainard, who has come under fire after a domestic violence arrest.
About half of the people who crammed into City Hall chambers—some were families with their infants in tow—cheered in support of a resolution approved by all but one city councilor asking that Brainard not take the oath of office on May 6.
Sam Susuras, the lone councilor against the resolution, said he “abhors domestic violence in any form” but said Brainard should be given his right to due process in the court system. Brainard was not in attendance Wednesday night and has said he will not step down.
“Our history is filled with examples of the dark measures taken by people against other people based upon the court of public opinion,” Susuras said.
Several audience members disagreed with Susuras’s speech and said they applauded the resolution backed by the other councilors.
Marilyn Charlesworth, who said she was a victim of domestic violence for 10 years, took issue with the fact that Brainard allegedly initially lied to police about assaulting his girlfriend, according to the affidavit.
“How can he take an oath if he can’t tell the truth?” she said. “I don’t want him to take the oath. He has no honor. He has not even taken office and he has laughed in our faces.”
Brainard is charged with misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault and harassment following an alleged incident April 6. Brainard, 51, initially denied to a police officer that an altercation with the woman turned physical, then admitted he’d pushed her, grabbed her hair and slapped her. The slapping, he explained, was needed to “shut her mouth.”
Those three words were the impetus of the duct-taped mouths, some that were labeled with sayings including “my kids see this.”
Resident Joel Dyer said if Brainard does not resign, voters will work to recall him and other councilors who support Brainard. Dyer worked on the political campaign for Laura Luke, who lost to Marty Chazen. Residents can initiate a recall after a councilor has been in office at least 90 days.
Dyer claimed Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, was keeping Brainard from resigning for political reasons. Dyer asked Schwenke “to stand with the women of Grand Junction and not continue sheltering this man.”
Schwenke has not returned a phone call to The Daily Sentinel on the issue.
Some people have said that Brainard is being advised not to resign because his presence would create a voting bloc of chamber-related interests that include Chazen, newly-elected Phyllis Norris and councilor Sam Susuras.
Councilors cannot force a member out of office unless there is a felony charge or someone is considered unfit for service, neither of which pertain to Brainard, Councilor Bennett Boeschenstein said in the resolution.
“While we know that all persons have legal and Constitutional protections including the presumption of innocence and the right to trial by one’s peers, we also know that some things in life do not need to be decided in the court of law; sometimes the court of public opinion should decide,” the resolution states.