Chamber hedges bets on Brainard
Choosing to reply to queries on its Facebook page, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce says it is “troubled” by domestic violence allegations against Councilor-elect Rick Brainard and pledges to review its position on Brainard at a later point.
“The Chamber is concerned about the allegations against Mr. Brainard ... and while these are indeed troubling allegations they are just that at this point,” reads a chamber reply to the several Facebook posts from local residents, many questioning the organization’s silence since Brainard’s arrest.
“Mr. Brainard is entitled to due process. 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 Chamber Board is very clear that due process should be afforded to all individuals accused in this community and this nation,” reads another Facebook reply by the Chamber.
Diane Schwenke, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer, has not returned The Daily Sentinel’s phone calls on the issue. The chamber’s earlier endorsement of Brainard for the at-large seat on the Grand Junction City Council was raised several times during last Wednesday’s city meeting as councilors approved a resolution asking Brainard not to take an oath of office on May 6.
“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 said.
One of two online petitions calling on Brainard to step aside — “Woman-Beating Councilmember Must Go” — claimed 13,523 signatures as of Sunday afternoon.
“I was planning a trip through Grand Junction this summer, but not if a person such as Brainard is a public official,” wrote Rachel Girshick of Connecticut.
Brainard, 51, who is free on bond facing charges of misdemeanor third-degree assault and harassment, said in a prepared statement on April 9 he intends to serve elected office despite his arrest at his Redlands home early April 6.
As was first reported by The Daily Sentinel on April 9, a non-redacted version of Brainard’s affidavit in support of warrantless arrest said Brainard initially denied an altercation with his live-in girlfriend turned physical. Police removed Brainard’s statements in the version of the affidavit released on April 6.
When confronted by an officer with details about the incident, Brainard admitted he’d grabbed her, pushed on her chest, pulled her hair and slapped her on the left side of her neck and cheek area, according to the affidavit. Brainard told the officer he slapped the woman because she needed to “shut her mouth,” the affidavit said.
Brainard claimed nearly 58 percent of the vote for the council’s at-large seat during the municipal election April 2.
His criminal case is scheduled to return 8 a.m. May 6 for a status conference at the Mesa County Justice Center, two hours before Brainard is scheduled to take the council’s oath of office.