Former Grand Junction City Councilman Rick Brainard. Photo credit: KREX-TV, Grand Junction
Convicted domestic abuser and former short term Grand Junction City Councilman Rick Brainard is publicly gloating over the former Blagg juror’s contempt conviction, and is being assisted by Paul Shockley, the Daily Sentinel’s court-beat reporter.
In response to an April 29 article by Shockley about Ms. Charlesworth’s conviction, Brainard tweeted, “XOXO. That darn Karma is a son of a gun.” Shockley retweeted the comment, helping Brainard further magnify it.
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Rick Brainard’s arrest in APril, 2013 shocked Grand Junction citizens and embarrassed the City
Rick Brainard, the infamous, short-lived Grand Junction, Colorado City Councilman who was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend four days after he was elected to City Council last April, has gotten a job with KaiserAir in Santa Rosa, California as Director of Maintenance Marketing and Business Development.
His arrest in April, 2013 stunned the community and galvanized hundreds of citizens who protested in front of City Council and worked tirelessly over the next four months to oust him from Council. Brainard insisted on taking his seat on Council despite his arrest and guilty plea. After citizens formed a recall committee and it appeared his recall was imminent, he finally stepped down from Council on July 18, 2013, but claimed his leaving had nothing to do with the months of protests against him. Brainard was fired by West Star Aviation and pushed off several prestigious local boards after his guilty plea.
The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce selected Brainard to run for office and backed his campaign financially through their “social welfare” (lobbying) group, the Western Colorado Business Alliance, leading locals to dub him a “chambermade.”
In a March 4 press release, KaiserAir announced, “We are excited about the addition of Rick to our team.”
Source: AviationPros.com, March 4, 2014 press release
Grand Junctin City Councilman Rick Brainard
Grand Junction citizens breathed a huge sigh of relief yesterday morning after hearing the news that convicted criminal Rick Brainard had formally resigned from the City Council, effective immediately. In his official one-page resignation letter, Brainard said he felt unappreciated, that he is not a violent person, that he became disillusioned with City Council in part because an unnamed Council member had passed an angry note to him filled with underlining and exclamation points, that expressed irritation at how he had voted. Brainard said he has “reconnected” with his former live-in girlfriend, Cindy Franzen, the woman to whom he had given a black eye, that he has “reorganized his priorities around her,” and he speculated that “maybe its time for some new scenery.” TV news cameras showed a large RV parked in the driveway of his home, apparently being loaded up. But Brainard wasn’t done after sending that letter. He also sent a much longer version of his resignation letter to the Grand Junction City Manager, who in turn passed it on to Council. Brainard really spilled his guts in that letter. He named yet another Chamber of Commerce-backed Councilman Marty Chazen as the angry note-writer, and told Mayor Sam Susuras that “Your behavior upset me so much that I am writing this letter today.” Brainard also castigated the press and media over their coverage of his assault and his subsequent events, which he said “lacked integrity,” and then he wrote the following to the citizens organizing to recall him, a group that, incredibly, he referred to as the “Re-Elect Rick Brainard Crowd”:
(To) The Re-Elect Rick Brainard Crowd: You are welcome. But be perfectly clear on this, my
stepping away has NOTHING to do with you. My comments here should be taken to
heart and you should seriously reflect on them as you move forward. You may want to
consider getting some counseling of your own. I have learned a lot about a topic from my
councilors that I knew nothing about previously, I think my counselors Dr. Saul
Tompkins and Patrick Mills for their advice and direction. You guys are wonderful. But
for this group that couches their behavior in the support of Domestic Violence victims.
Yet, when they produce a web site two thing ring very true. First, there is not a single
reference or link to a domestic violence resource. Does that seem odd? It does to me. It
suggests that you have gotten so caught up in being the bully that you forgot your
mission. Second, clearly you have become the bully, just flip through the pages and you
will see that. Again, I suggest you take a little of your own medicine and learn about your
own behaviors and how to best deal with them. Patrick Mills can certainly help if you
need a resource, he is amazing. The bottom line is this, I have reached out to you using
every means I know to do so engaging you to talk to me, actually get to know me and
learn that I agree with your Domestic Violence mission and wanted to use my position on
City Council to be your advocate. But you were not interested, because it diminished the
fun of being the bully. I’m sorry, but the best way for me to take the wind out of your
now poorly directed sails is to take myself away from you and point out to everybody
else how you have lost your way.
It is unclear what Brainard will do next.
Eager NoBrainard volunteers gather for signature gathering training #1 at the Historic Melrose Hotel
The campaign to recall Rick Brainard from Grand Junction City Council is on the move. Area citizens volunteered their time Saturday evening July 19 to attend the first of many signature gathering trainings to be offered in preparation for the Brainard recall effort. Brainard, who sits on the Grand Junction City Council, pled guilty to assaulting a woman just four days after being elected to Council, but cannot be pushed off Council because the court considers his crime a misdemeanor. Under the City’s charter, a council member must be guilty of a felony to be administratively removed from office. The one hour training was held in downtown Grand Junction at the Historic Melrose Hotel on Colorado Ave., which offered a cozy space, iced tea and lemonade for the first wave of eager, soon-to-be petitioners. Many participants brought previous signature-gathering experience to the table, and shared strategies and innovative ideas to boost the effectiveness of signature-gathering efforts. The NoBrainard recall campaign says time is on it’s side, and organizers are taking time to lay the necessary groundwork to guarantee a successful signature gathering effort. Citizens who want to join the effort can be empowered to gather signatures by attending one of the many upcoming such trainings. For information on the dates and locations of upcoming trainings, visit the recall website, NoBrainard.com, and click on either the “News and Events” or “Volunteer” tabs.
Former Grand Junction Mayor Bill Pitts (Photo Credit: KREX TV)
By any measure, former Grand Junction Mayor Bill Pitts is a stalwart of the community. A licensed private pilot and resident of Grand Junction for over 50 years, Pitts turned down several lucrative promotions offered to him by his former employer, a big security firm that sold safes, in order to move to and stay in Grand Junction. His company offered him a position supervising sales over the entire west coast, and he turned it down. Later he turned down another big opportunity to manage sales over the entire U.S. midwest region from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. “This is the best place in the world to live,” Pitts says. “I’ve been in every state and over 21 countries, and there isn’t any place better than Grand Junction.” Married for over 50 years and a true booster of the community, by his own calculation Mayor Pitts put in 3.2 days per week into doing City business for the paltry sum of $700 a month, and he did every last duty his mayoral position called on him to do, no matter how small. “Anytime someone asked me to do something extra, give a graduation speech or whatever, I did it, no matter what,” Pitts says. Pitts is also a creative guy, having invented six different useful items that are currently on the international market. One is commonly used locally here in western Colorado: those plastic covers with magnetic edges that you slap over swamp cooler vents inside the house in winter to keep out the drafts. Pitts is also an accomplished businessman who began several local businesses from the ground up and sold them off. One is Security Alarm Company, which he sold to former City Councilor Bruce Hill. Pitts also started the campground and RV park at 22 and H Roads. As a realtor and developer, he started the Fountainhead subdivision at G Road at 25 Road. Pitts was also an active dues-paying member of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce for over 44 years. He helped start Dinosaur Days, was active in Chamber Rangers and other Chamber programs. Mr. Pitts is also a lifelong Republican, and in addition to regularly paying membership dues to the Chamber, he also was a regular donor to the Mesa County GOP.
Bill Pitts is the quintessential, dyed-in-the-wool, patriotic, community-loving Republican Grand Junction resident. But at the May 1, 2013 City Council meeting he announced that after 44 years, he was withdrawing his membership in the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. He also has stopped giving money to the Mesa County GOP.
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Screen shot of new NoBrainard.com website
Grand Junction citizens organizing to recall newly-elected City Councilman Rick Brainard have created a new website, NoBrainard.com, where the public can go to donate money to the recall effort, volunteer to circulate petitions, help gather signatures, find out where to go to sign a petition, download free recall promotional posters and volunteer to help in other ways. The site tells the story of Rick Brainard, an aviation company executive who was elected to City Council April 6, 2013, and just four days later was arrested for assault after beating up his live-in girlfriend badly enough to give her a black eye. At first he denied the assault to police, then Brainard confessed, telling police (pdf) he had to do it to get her “to shut her mouth.” Brainard’s bad behavior and subsequent guilty plea has horrified citizens, and his dogged refusal to step down from his Council seat despite months of pressure will force the City to spend $45,000 – $50,000 of taxpayer money on a recall election and force citizens to collect enough valid signatures to recall him. Brainard is pushing the campaign to this point even though he ran as a fiscal conservative. The recall site compiles a list of news articles detailing the continuing saga of Mr. Brainard and the progress of the recall, and lists the dates, times and locations of training sessions for petition circulators. Recall organizers say if Mr. Brainard voluntarily steps down from his council seat prior to the signature collection drive, they will donate all funds raised for the recall effort to victims of domestic violence.
Mare Charlesworth addresses City Council about Rick Brainard May 22.
At the Wednesday, May 22 Grand Junction City Council meeting, citizens took advantage of the public comment period to speak out about their feelings about Rick Brainard sitting on Council. Brainard pled guilty in Mesa County Court May 17 to a charge of third degree assault for hitting his live-in girlfriend in the face hard enough to cause a black eye and facial bruising. The assault took place just days after he was elected to the Grand Junction City Council. The Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce backed Brainard as a candidate, and has continued to support him despite the assault, angering citizens. John Williams, an artist and author who lives in the 7th Street historic district and writes about Grand Junction, spoke to Council and said his family has lived in Grand Junction for 50 years, and he knows a lot of people in town. Williams said many citizens are upset about Rick Brainard’s presence on Council and have called for him to step down. “You’ve heard a lot of people in town,” Williams said. Citing Mr. Brainard’s guilty plea in court, he spoke directly to Mr. Brainard told him he “should be a man and step down” from Council.
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Grand Junction, Colorado City Councilman Rick Brainard pled guilty in Mesa County Court today to misdemeanor third degree assault for pushing and striking his former live-in girlfriend, Cindy Franzen, in the face April 6. Mr. Brainard’s attorney, Stephen Laiche, tried to enter a no contest plea on the charge, but Judge Craig Henderson said he would only accept a charge of “guilty” or “not guilty.” After conferring briefly in the hallway with Mr. Laiche, Mr. Brainard agreed to plead guilty. Mr. Laiche, trying to get as much leniency from the judge as possible for Mr. Brainard, indicated that Mr. Brainard did in fact lose his job at West Star Aviation as a result of this assault incident and the surrounding publicity. Mr. Laiche called Mr. Brainard as “a 51 year old man without a job.” During the court session, the Assistant District Attorney handed the judge an 8 1/2 x 11,” close-up color photo of Ms. Franzen’s face taken shortly after the attack, showing her blackened left eye and bruised face. The judge held the photo up several times for the court to see during the hearing.
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Two views of citizens turning their backs on Brainard at his swearing in ceremony May 6, 2013. Ruth Ehlers is seen in the hot pink jacket in the top photo. (Photo Credit: Demand Rick Brainard Resign Grand Junction Facebook page)
Rick Brainard was elevated to Grand Junction City Council this week amid an unprecedented citizen protest at his swearing in ceremony. As City Clerk Stephanie Tuin read Mr. Brainard his oath of office, 60 percent of the audience stood and turned their backs on him in silent protest — a remarkable showing for a municipal ceremony on a weekday morning in this small, conservative town. Brainard claimed to the media that he was unaware of the protest, but was sweating after the ceremony. In response to a question about the protest from a KKCO Channel 11 news reporter, Brainard responded “You know, it is what it is …My supporters have been steadfast, and I’m grateful for that.” An unidentified Brainard supporter was overheard saying, “All they did was turn their backs. They have a right to do that. I thought they were very civil. Not nearly as obnoxious as I thought they were going to be.”
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Grand Junction citizens protest outside the Chamber of Commerce. The blue sign says “GJ Chamber endorses violence.”
Rick Brainard’s election to the Grand Junction City Council and subsequent arrest for assault and harassment have appalled and galvanized City residents, but it’s also raised awareness of a sea change happening in Grand Junction politics right now that would otherwise have gone little-noticed. City Councilman Tom Kenyon alluded to it when he told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel the day after the election that “This election was very different” from others. “It was very organized,” Kenyon said, “It felt like they were out to get you. They raised a lot of money.”
Kenyon was right. This election was very different from previous local elections. That’s because, thanks to the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, a new group has appeared in town that has vowed to take a “proactive role” in setting local public policy. Translation? That group has vowed to take control of the City of Grand Junction. That group is the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce’s newly-created 501(c)4 political arm, the Western Colorado Business Alliance (WCBA), which exerted its muscle in the last election to seize control of Grand Junction’s City Council.
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Grand Junction City Councilman-Elect Rick Brainard (Photo Credit: GJ Police Department)
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has published audio of telephone calls made by outraged citizens to City Hall about councilman-elect Rick Brainard’s intent to assume office on May 6. Mr. Brainard was arrested April 6 for assaulting his girlfriend — just four days after he was elected to the Grand Junction City Council. In his police affidavit, Mr. Brainard admitting grabbing and pushing his girlfriend, pulling her hair and hitting her “on the left side of her neck/cheek area,” hard enough to cause a black eye. Mr. Brainard’s arrest affidavit (pdf) states, “Rick stated that he slapped Cindy because she ‘needed to shut her mouth.’ ” Citizens have been calling City Hall to express outrage at Mr. Brainard’s intent to take his seat, and asking the City to do something stop him. One caller was angry at Mr. Brainard’s request to Mesa County Court Judge Craig Henderson avoid all of his court appearances. Another caller complained he cannot get a job because he has the same charge on his record, and yet Mr. Brainard will be allowed to serve on City Council. Following are some excerpts from the calls:
“My husband and I voted for this lowlife that is in jail right now. I wish you would ask for his resignation…”
“…Just letting you know that if you keep Mr. Brainard on board, all you are doing is letting the people of Grand Junction know that it’s ok to be a wife beater…”
“The fact that I can’t get a job with the same record, …I’m just curious how it is a man can stay on…I can’t get a job as a CNA or get a CNA license or anything with the same record…”
“If you people keep Rick Brainard on City Council you have everything coming to you that happens. This is only the beginning. I know this guy.”
“I’m calling to express my outrage at Rick Brainard being able to keep his seat after being arrested for domestic violence…”
“I’d just like to register my utter outrage that RB is going to be allowed to still sit on City Council after admitting to the police that he struck a woman for something she said, and I cannot believe the message this sends to the female members of our community…”
“This is not the type of individual I want as part of my City Council. I find it embarrassing…”
Citizens are planning to protest Mr. Brainard at his swearing in on Monday, May 6. Mr. Brainard’s first court date coincidentally is that same morning, just two hours before he is scheduled to be sworn onto City Council.
Grand Junction citizens march and protest outside the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce
The fortunes of the Grand Junction Colorado Area Chamber of Commerce are sinking this week alongside those of embattled councilman-elect Rick Brainard, an executive at West Star Aviation in Grand Junction, who faces criminal charges for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend during a domestic altercation April 6. Grand Junction Police arrested and charged Mr. Brainard just four days after he won election to the Grand Junction City Council. Appalled citizens have been marching, chanting, holding rallies and organizing phone banks to protest Mr. Brainard assuming his seat on Council. This week outraged citizens picketed the G.J. Chamber, which continues to stand steadfastly behind Mr. Brainard. Just days ago, Mr. Brainard resigned from the Chamber’s board, but the Chamber still backs him. Adding to the Chamber’s woes, this week, the City of Grand Junction voted to yank its $6,000 membership in the Chamber, saying the Chamber has changed from an economic development organization into an overtly political group. As if losing the City’s lucrative membership and being targeted with loud protests by Grand Junction citizens wasn’t enough, this week thieves targeted the Chamber stealing a number of copper backflow devices said to be valued at thousands of dollars. To top it all off, an alternative Chamber of Commerce announced its debut this week in town: the Western Colorado Latino Chamber of Commerce, with dues that are a fraction of the GJ Chamber’s dues, making the Latino Chamber far more accessible to smaller businesses.
Additional coverage: The Daily Sentinel publishes audio of calls from citizens to City Council over the Brainard issue
Grand Junction City Councilman Sam Susuras, who may be subject to recall along with Rick Brainard, who was arrested for assault four days after being elected to Council.
As the first civil union in Mesa County was taking place across town in Grand Junction, Colorado, verbal fireworks flew at the last meeting of the sitting Grand Junction City Council. In a surprise move, Council voted 4-2 to drop the City’s membership in the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, which has continued to support embattled councilman-elect Rick Brainard. Brainard was arrested on charges of third degree assault and harassment after allegedly pushing and hitting his live-in girlfriend in the face just four days after he was elected to office April 2. The arrest has outraged the community and galvanized a grassroots effort to keep Brainard from taking his seat on Council. In a recent TV interview in his own defense, Mr. Brainard called citizens who oppose him “an uninformed lynch mob,” and insisted he will take his seat despite the charges. His statements further inflamed citizens, who have vowed to recall him as soon as the law permits it. The City has said a recall effort will cost taxpayers $45,000. Citizens against Brainard have conducted rallies and marched outside the Chamber of Commerce building and City Hall wearing black and white “No Brainard” T-shirts and “wife beater” undershirts that say “Domestic Violence is a No-Brainard.” Several businesses vowed to quit the Chamber if Mr. Brainard is sworn in and the Chamber continues to back him. The City of Grand Junction for many years was a “Chairman’s Circle” level member of the Chamber — the most expensive membership the Chamber offers, at a cost to taxpayers of $6,000 per year. Councilman Jim Doody noted that the Chamber has also created a 501-c-4 (lobbying) group specifically for the purpose of influencing local elections, but did not disclose how much it spent influencing the last election.
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Photo credit: KREX-TV, Grand Junction
The saga of embattled city councilman-elect Rick Brainard continues to unfold in Grand Junction, Colorado as citizens continue to pressure Brainard to resign his seat on City Council. Brainard, 51, won election to the Grand Junction City Council on April 2, but on April 6 was arrested on charges of third degree assault and harassment after admitting to hitting his live-in girlfriend in the face in a domestic dispute. Brainard said in a police affidavit that he struck his girlfriend because she “needed to shut her mouth.” His remarks have drawn the ire of the community. Most of the sitting city council members signed a resolution calling on Mr. Brainard to resign his seat. The local paper, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, endorsed Brainard prior to his election, but rescinded its endorsement and published an editorial calling on him to reject his seat on Council. The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce also endorsed Brainard for office, but has so far refused to pull their support for him, saying he is “entitled to due process.” Brainard served on the Chamber’s board. Mr. Brainard so far has vowed to take his seat on Council despite the furor. He is scheduled to be sworn into office on May 6, coincidentally the same day that he is supposed to make his first court appearance in his assault case.
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Embattled Grand Junction, Colorado City-Councilor-Elect Rick Brainard
On Tuesday, April 3, Rick Brainard, Vice President of Business Development at West Star Aviation in Grand Junction, Colorado was celebrating his election to City Council. On Saturday, April 6, he was arrested, put in a yellow jumpsuit and thrown in jail on charges of third degree assault after he admitted to police that he pushed, shoved, and struck his live-in girlfriend in the face. In his police affidavit, Brainard first denied the altercation, then said he had to strike his girlfriend because she “needed to shut her mouth.” That admission has inflamed citizens and last week a hundred people rallied at City Hall demanding Mr. Brainard not take office. Sitting Grand Junction City Council members have sent Mr. Brainard a letter to asking him not to assume office amid his legal flap, saying the case is embarrassing the City. The City is legally powerless to keep Brainard from taking his seat on Council, and despite the public pressure, Brainard has vowed to assume his seat on Council. If he does, citizens have vowed to start a recall effort. The City Clerk estimates a recall would cost the City about $45,000. In the meantime, the matter has gotten coverage across the U.S., including in Denver, San Francisco and Seattle, and an online petition demanding Mr. Brainard’s resignation, titled “Woman-Beating Councilmember Must Go,” has gone viral. As of 3:00 p.m. Sunday, April 21 the petition had 13,731 signatures and the number is growing at the rate of several thousand more a day. Even worse for Mr. Brainard, his mugshot now appears on MugShots.com.
Main Source: Care2 Petition Site, Woman Beating Council Member Must Go, April 21, 2013
A woman attends the rally at Grand Junction City Hall to protest Richard Brainard taking office. Brainard has admitted he struck his live-in girlfriend to get her to “shut her mouth.”
About 100 citizens of Grand Junction, Colorado rallied outside City Hall today to protest city councilman-elect Richard Brainard’s stated intent to assume office in early May. Linda Moran of the Latimer House organized the rally. Latimer House provides shelter for battered women. Brainard was arrested last weekend after admitting to police that he struck his live-in girlfriend. City Councilman Jim Doody spoke at the rally, saying Mr. Brainard had already highly embarrassed the city and that citizens are rightly concerned about Brainard’s behavior. Doody announced that he and fellow councilmember Bennett Boeschenstein plan to write a letter, which they will submit to the rest of Council, asking Brainard not to assume office. The crowd cheered and applauded. Doody warned, however, that Brainard, who has been duly elected, could assume office if he wanted to. Several citizens who spoke said they had voted for Brainard and were now sorry they had. One woman, with three children in tow, said the first thing she teaches her children is not to hit other people, ever. Brainard initially lied to the police after they arrived at his residence early Saturday morning, and denied a physical altercation with his girlfriend. He later admitted to grabbing, pushing and slapping her. A non-redacted version of the police report says “Rick stated that he slapped (girlfriend) because she needed to ‘shut her mouth,” saying she said something so offensive to him “that he had to slap her.” It was also announced at today’s rally that a group of state-approved domestic violence treatment providers from across the western slope have issued a statement asking Brainard not to take office. Brainard’s next court appearance is May 6, the same day he is scheduled to be sworn into office. Brainard’s lawyer has asked the court to waive the requirement that Brainard attend his court status conference May 6, as well as all future hearings, due to conflicts with his “employment.”
For this article, I drew from publicly available sources, including the candidates’ own websites and social media accounts, newspaper articles, the candidates’ financial disclosure statements filed with the City of Grand Junction, background-checks done on TruthFinder.com, and public records requests to the Grand Junction Police Department (GJPD) for records of any contact the candidates had with local law enforcement agencies. I felt the law enforcement piece was necessary after seeing Mesa County voters elect people to public office who were later involved in theft, falsifying time cards, embezzlement, assault, plagiarism, DUI, double-dipping, election tampering and other offenses.
These City Council candidates are asking voters to hire them for a job. City taxpayers pay their salaries. The candidates should be background-checked.
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Longtime Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke
The former longtime CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, Diane Schwenke, has announced she will be running for the at-large seat on Grand Junction City Council in 2023.
Yes, THAT Diane Schwenke.
The one who endorsed convicted felony embezzler Steve King for state Senate in 2012.
The one who endorsed Ray Scott as a replacement for convicted felon Steve King. In 2018, Scott double-billed both his legislative and campaign expense accounts for over $1,000 in Uber rides, effectively doubling his personal reimbursements. He was also sued by the ACLU for blocking constituents from his official social media accounts, costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
The same Diane Schwenke who endorsed Laura Bradford for Colorado House of Representatives in 2012. Bradford was pulled over by Denver police for driving under the influence of alcohol during her first and only term in the House. She quit after that term.
The same Diane Schwenke who endorsed Rose Pugliese for County Commissioner. Pugliese worked to kill the Riverfront Trail System by gutting all funding for it, circulated a petition to force D-51 teachers to stop teaching kids about climate change, and also stumped for the disastrous Tina Peters to be elected County Clerk.
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