Flyer fires up council candidates’ race

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A recent hit piece against Wheat Ridge Mayor Jerry DiTullio is causing quite a stir as the campaign for a key city council race enters its final days.

DiTullio is term-limited as mayor and is running for a District 1 seat on the council.

But organizers of a local political action committee are doing what they can to make sure that DiTullio doesn’t serve another year in city government — something he’s been doing for the last 18 years.

The committee, calling itself Citizens for a Greater Wheat Ridge, recently sent a mailer to District 1 voters, urging them to “just say no to DiTullio and his political cronies.”

The mailing accuses DiTullio of being a career politician who has racked up large sums of compensation from taxpayers. It also condemns the mayor for engaging in “Chicago-style politics” while not listening to voices in the community.

“Wheat Ridge needs leaders who will solve our problems rather than make a career out of our problems,” the mailing states.

In a recent interview, DiTullio fired back against what he called “lies and desperation by the anti-Jerry group.”

“In the 18 years I’ve served, I’ve never remembered such a nasty and mudslinging flyer, ever,” the mayor said. “Negative campaigning has never worked in Wheat Ridge and I think it’s going to backfire.

“They accuse me of Chicago-like politics, but that flyer is classic Chicago-style politics.”

DiTullio is running in a four-way race against District 1 incumbent Councilman Davis Reinhart and fellow challengers Monica Duran and Karen Thaler.

DiTullio has received criticism for running yet another campaign, with some council members having openly questioned whether he’s trying to make an end-run around term limits.

DiTullio served on the council for 10 years prior to holding his current position.

Citizens for a Greater Wheat Ridge is headed by local citizen Martin Calomino, who made no apologies for the literature.

“Jerry DiTullio has been involved in local politics for a long time,” Calomino said. “He’s been a council person, he’s been mayor, and it’s time for him to move on and let other people speak.”

The flyer claims that DiTullio has racked up over $224,000 in compensation in his 18 years in city government. However, DiTullio said that the money he has earned has amounted to only a fraction of that amount.

City records show that the mayor made about $135,000 during his 18 years working in local government. Through an email, Kim Calomino, Martin’s wife, clarified that the $224,000 that Citizens for a Greater Wheat Ridge claims in the mailer “represents total compensation,” meaning DiTullio’s salary and benefits.

Kim Calomino is a former board member of Wheat Ridge 2020, a city-backed nonprofit that DiTullio has at times been at odds with. She contributed funds to the political committee, as did former council members Karen Adams and Karen Berry, and current Councilwoman Kristi Davis.

When asked whom he supports in the District 1 race, Martin Calomino said, “Anybody but Jerry.”

“I say enough is enough,” he said. “It’s time for Jerry to go away.”

The mailing also took aim at DiTullio’s “cronies,” candidates who are seeking other city offices. They include Councilman Mike Stites, a DiTullio supporter who is running for mayor against fellow council member Joyce Jay and write-in candidate Jeffrey “Park” Worthington.

The City Clerk’s office said that it received a handful of phone calls from residents who were upset over the flyer, something that Stites said he can relate to.

“I think it’s a shame,” Stites said of the mailing. “I think it worked reversed. I got a lot of emails and calls from people who say they were furious.

“If they weren’t going to vote for us they sure are now,” Stites said.