New Lakewood City Council members sworn in

A new council takes shape, but in-fighting and disfunction remain

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Jeslin Shahrezaei, Ward 1; Sophia Mayott-Guerrero, Ward 2; Rebekah Stewart, Ward 3; Rich Olver, Ward 4; and Wendi Strom, Ward 5, were sworn in Nov. 22 as Lakewood’s newest City Council members. 

A recount will determine the winner of the second Ward 5 seat that was up for grabs, after the top two finishers in that race ended up in a near tie. The seat became available when former Ward 5 council member, Dana Gutwein, resigned her position in August.

Mary Janssen currently leads Tom Keefe by 13 votes in the Ward 5 race. The recount will begin Dec. 6. According to the Lakewood Clerk and Recorder’s office, the final results will be available Dec. 7. The winner of the race will be sworn in during the Dec. 13 regular City Council meeting. 

Five outgoing council members, Remi Johnson, Jacob LaBure, David Skilling, Mike Bieda and Karen Harrison, were presented parting gifts in the form of personalized street signs by city manager Kathy Hodgson.

Outgoing members also were given an opportunity to give parting remarks. Most offered words of advice to new members and gratitude to constituents and other council members. Ward 3’s Mike Bieda thanked voters, the community and the city of Lakewood that had nurtured him into adulthood. But before he said his final goodbye, Bieda offered a scathing critique of Mayor Adam Paul, accusing him of attempting to silence Ward 3 council member Anita Springsteen. He also accused unnamed big money, special interests of influencing the recent election and warned the listening audience that liberal, woke culture was coming to defund the police and limit citizens’ liberties and freedoms.

Springsteen, in her Ward 3 update, accused Paul of unethically sending a letter about her to the state’s Independent Ethics Commission on Nov. 1. Springsteen said Paul labeled her as a material witness in an impending federal lawsuit against the city. She claimed sending the letter implicated Paul and others involved in its production in state and federal crimes involving witness tampering, witness intimidation and intimidation of a public official. 

“Not to mention the chilling effect such a backdoor attempt at censure has on the independent decision-making of our council members,” Springsteen said. “Beyond that, I have been told by many power players in Colorado that there is no doubt that I am being targeted specifically, as a woman of color, for my racial justice and other justice reform activity in Lakewood and Colorado.”

In February, Springsteen’s boyfriend, Jeremiah Axtell, filed a federal lawsuit against multiple defendants including Lakewood PD and West Metro Fire Rescue. The suit stems from an incident where Axtell was forcibly injected with the drug Ketamine while he was being placed under arrest.

Springsteen said the letter Paul sent to the Independent Ethics Commission was designed to “muzzle” her from speaking up for her constituents, and keep her from voting on literally anything to do with the city.

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