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Posted on: May 5th, 2013 No Comments

Citizens protest Brainard’s appointment


Photo: Charlie Blackmer

On Monday, April 29, Grand Junction community members gathered at the Chamber of Commerce to protest Rick Brainard’s appointment to City Council.

“Nobody’s trying to find him guilty of any offense,” local resident Claudette Konola said. “People are just saying he’s the wrong person to represent us at city council.”

Brainard was arrested on Saturday, April 6, on suspicion of domestic violence, just days after his election to City Council. According to police, Brainard’s girlfriend, Cindy Franzen, alleged that Brainard pushed her into a dresser, pulled her hair, grabbed her arms and struck her in the face that night. He faces third degree charges of assault and harassment.

“Violence is a very childish way of solving problems,” protestor Davy Sundquist said. “I don’t think there’s ever any kind of excuse. You don’t smack someone around, regardless of gender.”

According to the non-redacted version of an arrest affidavit, Brainard stated that he slapped his girlfriend because “she needed to shut her mouth.”

“It’s sending a terrible message both about what we’re like here and what he’s like,” former CMU professor Sally Matchett said. “He needs to get some help. I’m sure he feels very justified, but that’s typical.”

Brainard has publicly apologized for his actions and stepped down from the Chamber’s and Community Hospital’s boards. However, Brainard has not expressed any intent to reverse his appointment to City Council. Brainard was part of a slate of candidates supported by the Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m here because Mr. Brainard should resign, and the Chamber has been aiding and abetting his refusal,” Matchett said.

“I think the Chamber is way out on a limb on this, and they don’t know where to go,” Konola said. “We have been protesting ever since because we do not think he should take his seat.”

Protestors marched from the Chamber of Commerce to Grand Junction City Hall in just one of several displays of dissatisfaction. In weeks prior, rallies occurred both at City Hall and West Star Aviation, Brainard’s place of work. A phone booth was also established for citizens to call the Chamber and express their discontent.

“This is not the last day of action,” said Laura Ripple, organizer of last Monday’s protest. “There will be continued days of action until Rick Brainard is not even remotely, possibly going to be on the City Council.”

That evening, CMU’s Association of Feminists hosted a meeting in which City Councilwoman Teresa Coons spoke about feminism and leadership. Although Coons could not speak directly about the issue, she was willing to explain the complications elected officials face in the public spotlight.

“Your life is kind of an open book, and most of us learn to kind of screen what we say,” Coons said. “Ultimately, our role as leaders is to weigh everything we’ve heard and researched and decide what’s best. I think a good leader has to think at a level of what’s good for the community that they’re serving in general and realize that sometimes people are going to get hurt.”

Chani Capps, president of the CMU Association of Feminists, concurred.

“A councilmember is like a civil servant – not just the men,” she said. “He needs to respect everybody.”

Currently, the CMU Association of Feminists is considering how they can become positively involved in a movement to gather signatures to petition a recall against Brainard’s upcoming appointment to City Council, which is set to occur on May 6.

cferganc@mavs.coloradomesa.edu, arildefonso@mavs.coloradomesa.edu

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