A four-part series examining the powerful forces that ousted Dacono’s city manager and sent the city into turmoil.
On February 13, former Dacono City Manager A.J. Euckert was sworn into the regularly scheduled city council meeting where he would receive an award for his more than two decades of service to the city. Within an hour, he’d be fired.
Euckert’s surprise termination set off a firestorm in Dacono that ended with two city council members being recalled while two others were formally censured. But the powerful interests that worked to remove Euckert from his post have been less clear until now.
Yellow Scene Magazine has spent the last two months investigating the powerful forces that worked to remove Euckert from his post. YS received hundreds of pages of documents from the city and interviewed more than a dozen people who were involved.
What we found is that many of the same people who supported Mayor Pro Tem Kathryn Wittman’s run for Dacono mayor in 2018 and 2021 were also working behind the scenes to help remove Euckert. These forces helped stir up support from community members who want Dacono city staff to attract more businesses to town, real estate interests, and a church that has tried to influence city policy in the past.
These issues come at a critical time for Dacono, which like many other small towns within a half hour’s drive of Denver, is going through a period of explosive growth. Over the last decade, more than 2,300 people have moved to town, representing a growth rate of 56%, and the city’s median salary is about $85,000 as of 2022, according to census data. That growth mirrors trends seen in other towns like Erie and Frederick, which have seen their population’s grow by 83% and 75%, respectively, over the last 10 years.
Large builders like K.B. Homes have taken advantage of this growth and brought more market-rate homes to the area through master planned communities such as Dacono’s Sweetgrass neighborhood. However, business growth has been slow in Dacono as commercial real estate developers seem to be favoring nearby Erie and Frederick over Dacono.
While the issues YS uncovered are specific to Dacono, they speak to problems that other growing rural towns faced in recent years. For example, an independent expenditure committee linked to lobbyists for Colorado’s oil & gas industry supported mayoral and town trustee candidates during Erie’s municipal election in 2022 at a time when the city had recently increased its regulation of the industry.
Read Part 1: No Access on Andrews, a look at the real estate interests that worked to remove Euckert at a time when the city is working to support new residential developments.
Read Part 2: The Road Less Traveled, which looks at how negotiations for a highway improvement grant caused some to lose patience with Euckert.
Read Part 3: New Horizons, a peek inside the religious interests that have tried to influence Dacono’s city government for almost a century.
Read Part 4: Moving On, a discussion of how the city will heal.