Durango City Council has declined to issue a unified statement condemning U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert for what some residents view as supporting an insurrection earlier this month at the U.S. Capitol.
Boebert has continued to be a lightning rod for controversy in her first two weeks as the representative for 28 Western Slope and southern Colorado counties in the 3rd Congressional District. Calls for her resignation and an investigation into her actions during the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol have come from around Colorado, including Durango.
While City Council did not agree to issue a unified statement during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, several members have individually denounced her actions.
“We’re all sort of appalled by the behavior that took place from many people, including our representative,” said Councilor Chris Bettin.
Boebert’s critics have said she supported sedition by expressing “solidarity with insurrectionists” based on her Twitter messages during the Jan. 6 riots, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building.
Boebert also objected to Congress’ official certification of Electoral College votes for the presidential election, which Joe Biden won.
Petitioners say her objection was based on conspiracy theories and lies dismissed multiple times by courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the last two weeks, more than 65 elected officials in the 3rd Congressional District signed a joint letter opposing Boebert’s actions, including Bettin, Durango Mayor Dean Brookie and Councilor Barbara Noseworthy.
More than 33,700 people signed a petition calling for Boebert to be expelled from Congress, along with multiple other petitions calling for investigations into her actions or for her resignation.
Boebert has hit back in kind by defending her actions, throwing barbs at Democrats and casting herself as a defender of the U.S. Constitution.
“I denounced the violence over the summer just as I did the recent events at the Capitol,” she said in a news release. “I defended our Constitution and I always will.”
In Durango, Indivisible Durango has been pushing a petition asking City Council to formally condemn Boebert for her actions.
“There’s over 650 signatures to this petition, so it demands our attention,” Brookie said. “The question is, what is our role as City Council to respond to this request?”
Noseworthy expressed support for a joint statement of condemnation. Councilor Kim Baxter denounced violence and said her role on council is to make an impact locally.
“I condemn what she did, just by the spreading lies on the national stage,” Bettin said. “I don’t know that it’s this particular council’s role ... to make that comment as a collective whole.”
Several council members said the council needed to act as a nonpartisan entity, as required by the city’s code of ethics which says “partisanship shall not be a factor in any official action of any city official.”
Councilor Melissa Youssef was concerned about making a joint statement, saying it was an ethical “gray area.”
“Any language that we crafted would have to be so very, very carefully crafted that I think it might take away from the potential strength of the original cause intended,” she said.
Brookie said council members had already taken action individually when they signed the joint letter from Colorado elected officials.
“I’m questioning ... the impact of a letter of this nature at this time, knowing that Congress itself is taking action against Lauren Boebert,” Brookie said. “We would be requesting action that’s already been taken.”
Councilors ultimately recommended the petitioners can take action by sending their signatures directly to Boebert’s office.