‘No-brainer,’ crowd says
A spirited crowd of nearly 100 people chanted slogans and carried signs Friday morning calling for the resignation of Grand Junction City Councilor-elect Rick Brainard.
The event in front of City Hall attracted two current councilors, Bennett Boeschenstein and Jim Doody, who said they would present a resolution during Wednesday’s council meeting asking for his resignation.
“He’s already cost our city a huge amount of embarrassment,” Boeschenstein told the crowd, who clapped and cheered.
Brainard has come under fire after being arrested April 6 on suspicion of two misdemeanor counts of domestic violence against his girlfriend. According to an arrest affidavit, Brainard admitted pushing the woman, grabbing her hair and slapping her.
All newly elected councilors are expected to be sworn in May 6. Brainard said in a prepared statement earlier this week that he won’t resign his post. Brainard’s attorney, Steve Laiche, declined Friday to comment on the rally.
Statements made by Brainard that appeared in the affidavit appeared to draw the most ire from some representatives of the community who spoke against domestic violence. Some signs played on statements Brainard allegedly made to police, including that he hit the woman because she needed to “shut her mouth.”
One participant’s sign read: “Just try to ‘shut my mouth.’ “
Signs also twisted one of Brainard’s campaign slogans that voting for him is a “no-brainer.”
One sign read: “It’s a no Brainard.”
“I voted for Rick Brainard,” Ted Warnica told the crowd. “I don’t see how in good conscience he can continue to represent us when this kind of thing comes to the surface.”
Several people used the rally as an opportunity to speak against domestic abuse, including Catherine Burkey.
“No person deserves emotional abuse,” she said. “No person deserves isolation. No person in Grand Junction deserves Rick Brainard on (the) Grand Junction City Council.”
Speakers collected donations for Latimer House, a nonprofit domestic violence shelter and asked people to add their names to a petition asking for Brainard to resign.
Doody and Boeschenstein emphasized to the crowd that they could not force Brainard to not take his elected seat or keep him from being sworn into office.
However, after 90 days in office, residents can launch a recall petition drive, something participants said Friday they would be interested in doing.
“We don’t have an impeachment process in the city charter,” Boeschenstein said after the event.
“All we can do is recommend that he resign. We can’t force him to resign.”
One participant, Sabrina Jackman, said she was looking at a petition drive website, change.org, to see whether the issue of Brainard’s resignation had been registered. It had not been posted on the site as of Friday afternoon.
“Obviously in this country we have a problem with domestic violence,” Jackman said. “We need to step up and do something about it. What does it say about us when we allow someone to represent us that is violent to people?”
The Daily Sentinel left messages Friday afternoon with Councilor Sam Susuras and councilors-elect Harry Butler, Marty Chazen and Phyllis Norris, as well as Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke, asking them whether they believe Brainard should resign. The chamber unanimously endorsed Brainard for council.
None of the five returned phone calls.