Mike Anton is back, appearing on TV and speaking to groups around town, telling Grand Junction residents they should vote for an extra sales tax to build an events center downtown.
Do you remember Mike Anton?
Well then let’s recap exactly who Mike Anton is, and what he has done over the last few years, so you will remember him:
Anton owns a business in town called EmTech. He sat on the board of directors of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce in 2013. That was the year the chamber backed Rick Brainard for city council.
Remember how THAT turned out?
The Brainard Incident
Four days after winning the April 4, 2013 City Council election, the chamber-backed Brainard was arrested for beating up his girlfriend and smacking her hard enough to turn her face black and blue. A mug shot of the newly-elected councilman smiling in his yellow jumpsuit was a staple of the local news night after night. In his arrest affidavit (pdf), Brainard told police he “had to hit” his girlfriend because she “needed to shut her mouth.”
Citizens, outraged, marched around downtown with bullhorns. They rallied, and called and wrote letters to Council demanding Brainard not be allowed to take his Council seat on May 6. But despite the relentless onslaught of public pressure and humiliation, Brainard steadfastly refused to step down. Instead, he attended his first court hearing for his assault charge on the very same day he was sworn into his City Council seat. In a historic moment, a room full of indignant citizens at the ceremony stood and turned their backs on him all at once. When the media asked Brainard afterwards to comment on the protest, he smugly claimed he “didn’t see them.”
Even after Brainard pled guilty to the assault in open court, the Chamber and its board, including Mike Anton, continued to support Brainard staying on City Council.
As soon as Brainard was sworn in, citizens initiated an effort to recall Brainard from Council. By July, just as citizens were getting ready to collect signatures to recall him, Brainard had had enough and finally agreed to step down.
During the entire sordid episode, Anton never broke with the chamber, and instead continued to support Brainard along with the rest of the board.
Grand Junction’s First-Ever Negative Campaign Ad
Anton made history in the 2013 election, too.
He has the distinction of having run the first-ever negative campaign ad in Grand Junction history.
In March of 2013, one month before the City election scheduled for April 2, a quarter-page ad appeared in the Daily Sentinel (pdf) berating all of the four incumbent City Council members running for re-election. The ad accused incumbents of being “big spenders” and demanded that City government be run like a business instead of a government.
The strange, text-heavy ad, the likes of which citizens here had not seen before in a city council race, had a malicious edge to it, too. In particular the ad targeted incumbent City Councilor Laura Luke, a single mother, with threatening language:
“Hey, Laura, …” the ad said. “I’m your worst nightmare,” it said, using the first person.
The ad repeatedly named and berated Luke and demanded, “I want change! I want to see a person like Rick Brainard… who has a relentless passion and drive for the community he lives in….” get elected to council. The ad was so personally threatening to Luke that the Daily Sentinel pulled it before it’s three-print run was over.
The author of this historic nasty ad was none other than Michael P. Anton, owner of Emtech, Inc., who, in addition to sitting on the Chamber’s board, also happened to be President of the Chamber’s new 501-c-4 “social welfare” (lobbying) group, the “Western Colorado Business Alliance” (WCBA), that the chamber created in 2012 specifically for the purpose of influencing local elections.
Anton’s Brady Trucking Lie
Also in 2013, and also on behalf of the chamber, Mike Anton plugged a ballot measure to re-zone land by the Las Colonias Bridge over the Colorado River to light industrial zoning, so Brady Trucking could put their headquarters there. At meetings around town and to the media (just as he is doing now), Anton and the chamber promised citizens that if they approved the re-zone, Brady Trucking would bring in a bunch of new jobs that would pay $70,000/year and, as a bonus, the company would even build more biking and walking trails along the Colorado riverfront by the bridge.
Citizens duly voted to re-zone the land and then…nothing ever happened. To this day the Brady Trucking parcel by the river sits vacant with only an old, crumbling building on it and a bunch of junk along the river’s edge. No trails were ever built. No jobs ever came to town, nothing.
Another lie from Michael Anton and his pals at the chamber.
And now Mike Anton is back, telling Grand Junction citizens they should vote for an additional sales tax to pay for an event center that no one in town has asked for?
How do you think that is likely to turn out?