Several protest during Grand Junction City Council swearing-in ceremony
Rick Brainard was one of four new Grand Junction city councilors sworn into office by city clerk Stephanie Tuin in the city hall auditorium May 6. The embattled new councilor was charged with third-degree assault and harassment after an alleged altercation with his live-in girlfriend April 6, four days after being elected to council.
During a recent interview on KKCO 11 News, Brainard admitted to slapping his girlfriend on the neck and face.
At least twice, protesters have rallied demanding Brainard’s resignation.
Four Grand Junction policemen were stationed at city hall before and during the swearing-in ceremony to ensure there would be no disturbance during the proceeding,according to one of the officers. That amount of police presence at a city meeting is uncommon.
“Like anywhere else, we’re just here to see that people behave themselves,” the officer said.
Several protesters attending the ceremony stood up and turned their backs toward Brainard as he was being sworn into office.
Then, in another sign of protest, approximately 20 men and women walked out of the room in silence.
Speaking in the lobby outside of the auditorium, Robyn Parker expressed her disapproval of Brainard.
“A man who beats women to deal with his frustrations does not represent us,” Parker said.
As a symbolic gesture, Parker said she gathered 15,775 signatures worldwide at thepetitionsite.com, asking Brainard to step down.
A few women, including Lindsay Callahan, wore T-shirts emblazoned with a sign saying “no” to domestic violence: “It’s a No-Brainard!” Callahan also smudged makeup on her face to simulate a black eye.
“I’m here because Brainard has disregarded the opinion of the public and his peers,” Callahan said. “I feel he can’t do a good job because he won’t listen to the public.”
Jo-Anne Mullen, 83, said she has worked on domestic violence issues for more than 30 years and said she is “appalled” that Brainard has not stepped down.
“I hope he will be removed,” she said.
Brainard opponents say they will seek a recall.
Media accounts that Brainard no longer works at West Star Aviation have raised questions whether he will remain in Grand Junction, and thus resign from council. When contacted by the Free Press, a woman at West Star said “we have no comment” and hung up the phone.
Brainard has not responded to calls for comment.
Immediately following the swearing-in ceremony, a special city council meeting was convened. The agenda included the election of mayor and mayor pro tem.
Councilor Harry Butler motioned to postpone the mayor nomination due to the absence of two council members, Bennett Boeschenstein and Jim Doody who had prior commitments. However, the election proceeded.
Sam Susuras was nominated and elected mayor, and newcomer Martin Chazen was elected mayor pro tem. The other newly elected councilor sworn in Monday was Phyllis Norris.
Rachel Budman, who attended the ceremony, was unhappy that the election for mayor was held even though Butler had asked to wait until all council members could vote.
“It shows me how corrupt this whole situation is,” Budman said. “They completely ignored Harry Butler.”
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