Wheat Ridge City Council Addresses Migrant Town Hall Comments, Honors Local Judge

In the first council meeting of the new year, Wheat Ridge City Council members, staff and residents addressed the community conversation regarding the sheltering of migrants in Wheat Ridge, in addition to wrapping up various operating and housekeeping agenda items. 

Opening the meeting, Mayor Bud Starker first acknowledged resident and municipal Judge Christopher Randall, proclaiming January 8, 2024 as Judge Randall Day in the city. Randall, who was also awarded the municipal Judge of the Year award in 2023, served Wheat Ridge from January 2002 until he vacated the position in September 2023.

“Your commitment to upholding service, justice and ensuring the wellbeing of our community has not gone unnoticed. Your efforts have made a positive impact and your dedication is truly commendable,” Mayor Starker said. “We are grateful for the difference you have made in our community and we appreciate your service to our city.”

Updating the council in the status of Denver’s interest in a lease agreement with the Super 8 Motel, which Denver initiated in October of last year in response to the influx of migrants, city manager Patrick Goff said he is not aware of migrants sheltering in Wheat Ridge, nor are there any pending arrangements to do so.

While such a lease agreement is permissible under the motel’s right of use, explained Goff, he emphasized in his conversations with Denver the Wheat Ridge ordinance limiting motel stays to 29 days and sought a good neighbor agreement with Denver to minimize impacts on Wheat Ridge resources.  

“Denver, at this time, has no interest in using the Super 8,” said Goff, before turning the floor over to Adam Paul, the director of regional affairs for Denver Mayor Johnston.

According to Paul, the former Lakewood mayor, Denver is receiving approximately 200 new migrant arrivals daily, of which 43% are children. Support for those migrants includes housing at six hotels in Denver and one in Aurora. Paul said Denver spent between $40 to $45 million in migrant aid last year, and the city needs support from neighboring communities.

During public comment, a number of residents expressed their concerns with the potential for Wheat Ridge to participate in supporting migrants. However Morgan Richards, a longtime resident, small business owner and founder of Wheat Ridge for Equity reminded the audience that “no human is illegal” and addressed the contentious Jan. 3 rec center meeting organized by residents to address the migrant housing issue.

“We cannot stand silent when anyone in our community is attempting to protect democracy by dehumanizing people of color, people who are immigrants fleeing terror and genocide in their own county, because after all I see a room of most of us who come from immigrants.”

“It is imperative, continued Richards, “that we continue to the work to make Wheat Ridge a more inclusive community that is open to all and safe to all.” 

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