How a small-town church supported the push to oust Dacono’s former city manager.
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Mark 12:17.
Outside of Dacono’s city government, another influential force was working to oust former city manager A.J. Euckert: New Horizons Christian Church,
Yellow Scene Magazine spoke with multiple people with knowledge of the church’s actions for this story, all of whom asked to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal. One resident told YS that it’s an “open secret” that New Horizons has been trying to run the town for several years.
YS reached out to New Horizons for comment on this story but did not receive a reply before press time.
The church showed how involved it was in Euckert’s firing during a regularly scheduled city council meeting on February 23 when New Horizons pastor Rob Thomas shared his frustrations with city council.
Thomas is the senior pastor at New Horizons Christian Church, a congregation that has existed in Dacono for roughly 104 years, he said. The church is located on Carbondale Avenue, just down the street from Dacono City Hall and the Glens of Dacono neighborhood. Thomas said he was “reluctant” to join the conversation because his position requires him to largely “stay in the background,” but he decided to speak up because of the “non-truths and innuendo” that he saw swirling the Euckert controversy.
Thomas spoke forcefully during his speech and leveled many of the same theses that the council members who voted to remove Euckert have offered as explanations for their vote. Thomas said city staff has prevented the city from growing, and cited issues he had with a permit to build a new building on New Horizons’ land as an example. He also said that city hall no longer represents the interests of the people of Dacono because Mayor Adam Morehead and council member Kevin Plain have not attended the church’s annual food drive despite Thomas’ personal invitation.
He added a few church-specific allegations as well, such as city subcontractors damaging the church’s curbs when they repaved Cherry Street. He added that Habitat for Humanity had passed on investing in Dacono because of the city’s actions, even after Thomas opened his church for a meeting between the nonprofit group and city officials to hammer-out their differences.
“We used to be able to do that kind of thing, Mayor, without fear of reprisal for violating the separation of church and state,” Thomas said.
Thomas also heaped praise at Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Wittman, council member Danny Long, and his wife—council member Jackie Thomas—for volunteering their time at the church food drives. He also spoke glowingly about Wittman and Long’s efforts to court Habitat for Humanity. Wittman previously served on the Board of Directors for the Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley affiliate before being elected to Dacono’s city council. The St. Vrain affiliate also helped build homes in The Glens starting in 2010.
“Nothing has been done to help us, the people,” Thomas said. “I hear from hundreds of people every week about what a shame it is to live in this city.”
Even though Thomas claimed to be speaking as a private citizen, his speech is emblematic of the way New Horizons has sought to influence Dacono’s government over the last several years.
New Horizons’ foray into Dacono politics began in earnest in 2018 when Wittman decided to run for mayor after former Dacono mayor Joe Baker retired. Wittman and Jackie Thomas are both members of New Horizons, as is Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine, who herself played an influential role in Euckert’s firing.
YS previously reported that New Horizons was a key part of Wittman’s campaign strategy. The congregation accounted for a majority of Wittman’s campaign donations, and the church also hosted political rallies in support of Wittman. New Horizons also unsuccessfully attempted to host official candidate forums during the election.
The church has also tried to expand its presence on city council beyond the tripartite coalition of Wittman, Long, and Jackie Thomas. In 2018, Jackie Thomas tried to appoint her son-in-law Amado Sierra to fill a vacant seat on city council. Thomas and Sierra lived in the same home at the time, and was allegedly listening in on the council meeting where city council members were voting on his appointment, former mayor Baker said was a clear conflict of interest because Thomas did not disclose her relationship with Sierra.
“These people cloak themselves with the church and Jesus, and yet still humiliated A.J. in front of his family,” a resident told YS, referring to when Euckert was fired after receiving an award recognizing his contributions to Dacono.
This is Part 3 in a series of 4 articles. Check back for further updates to the series.