Brainard should reject seat on City Council

Rick Brainard won The Daily Sentinel’s endorsement for election to the at-large seat on the Grand Junction City Council earlier this month because of his energetic, no-nonsense, big-picture approach to city issues. But given the events of the past week, we don’t believe Brainard can effectively serve the city at this time.

Brainard was arrested early Saturday morning on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend. It’s important to recognize he has not been convicted of anything as yet. However, the statement he gave to police shortly after he was arrested — that he slapped his girlfriend after she accused him of cheating because she needed to “shut her mouth” — is offensive, and it is evidence he will find hard to repudiate.

Brainard issued a statement Tuesday saying he had no intention of withdrawing from the council. That’s unwise, we think.

Charges of domestic violence may not directly affect Brainard’s ability to decide issues as a representative of Grand Junction’s citizens. But there will always be questions about how he may respond to constituents, city staff members or fellow councilors when he becomes angry.

Furthermore, the fact that he told one story to police initially but later changed that story when presented with contrary evidence undermines his credibility.

On top of that, Brainard’s ongoing court case will be a highly visible distraction from his service on the council. As just one example, his next court appearance is set for May 6, the very day he is to be sworn in as a member of the council.

As Brainard has learned so early in his political career, those elected to represent us live in glass houses. They cannot keep their personal lives entirely private.

That’s not because of the public’s seemingly endless fascination with the problems involving political leaders and celebrities. Heck, if our goal were only to produce scandalous news coverage, we would urge Brainard to remain on the council.

More importantly, we and the public hold our elected officials a higher standard than the average person. We don’t demand that elected representatives be saints, but we do expect them to obey the law and to avoid intentionally harming others, especially while they are in office.

Based on the affidavit for his arrest, it appears Brainard violated that standard. We still hope he decides it is in his own best interest — and equally importantly, that of the community — for him to resign his council seat now and allow the current City Council to choose his replacement.

As the article in Tuesday’s Daily Sentinel outlined, the City Charter allows authorizes the council to interview candidates and name a replacement for a councilor who resigns or is forced from the council.

We believe Brainard’s resignation and the council’s selection of a replacement would be best for the city.


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