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Pueblo City Council hopeful Duane Nava drops out of race

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- On October 7th, the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce announced Duane Nava as their new President/Chief Executive Officer. However, Nava has been in the running for an at-large City Council seat in the November election.

Leaving some to question whether it would be a conflict of interest for Nava to be the President of the Chamber of Commerce and a City Council member.

"Absolutely there was a possible conflict of interest, so we decided it was possibility best for me to drop out of that race in order for me to protect the city and also protect the chamber," Duane Nava said.

Mail-in ballots for the 2021 Municipal election went out to Pueblo residents the first week of October. Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz said at an emergency City Council work session on October 8 that the systems are already programmed with Mr. Nava's name on the ballot, thus preventing them from removing it.

According to Colorado's Revised Statutes Title One on elections, "Any person who has accepted a designation or nomination may withdraw from candidacy at any time by filing a letter of withdrawal."

It goes on to say, "any votes cast for the candidate are invalid and shall not be counted."

Councilmember Lori Winner called the work session to discuss the timing of Duane Nava accepting the President position at the Chamber of Commence, and his subsequent removal from the at-large race.

"He will get some votes, so this is manipulating the election in a big big way," Winner said. "I think the timing was perfect to pull just before all the ballots were mailed."

Ortiz confirmed to City Council that three percent of the voting is done in person, leaving 97 percent of the vote up to mail-in ballots from Pueblo voters.

During a discussion of Winners' comments, councilmember Mark Aliff raised concerns about voters being disenfranchised.

"The fact is with that name still on the ballot, we are disenfranchising voters," Aliff said. "This process is flawed. These people that cannot be reached with a vote for Mr. Nava, when they would have voted for another at-large candidate."

Nick Gradisar, the Mayor of Pueblo, disagrees. "That is not going to happen for voters that are paying attention. It has been widely circulated now that Duane Nava is not a candidate for city council. If the voters are disenfranchised, it's because they haven't been paying attention," Gradisar said.

Also, Gradisar dismissed the idea that the timing of Nava's withdrawal had anything to do with local politics.

"Partisan politics don't have anything to do with operating a city or being a member of city council, so it's unfortunate that some people have that in their mind because nothing could be further from the truth," Gradisar said.

The three other at-large candidates are Dennis Flores, Heather Graham, and Aliff.

According to campaign finance records, Nava has raised $16,735 in monetary support for his campaign, including $10,100 of his own personal money.

He has spent $12,157.98 on campaign expenses, including items like flyers, postcards and signs. According to the Secretary of State's Office, there are several options at Nava's disposal with the money his campaign raised. Mr. Nava may contribute the funds to a political party, donate the funds to a charitable organization, return the funds to the contributors, or roll the funds over into a new committee opened by the same candidate for a different office.

Nava told KRDO that he plans to return all of the money to his donors, the people that had funded his campaign.

"At no point did I ever say you know maybe we should hold onto these funds for something different. It was always I need to do right by the people that have supported me throughout this entire campaign, and get that money back to them if thats what they wish," Nava said.

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Sean Rice

Sean is a reporter based out of Pueblo for KRDO. Learn more about him here.


1 Comment

  1. Lazy, at best as a Middle School Counselor. Disappeared for days at a time without notification, then got perfect attendance recognition. Not to be trusted.

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