Stripper-turned-mayor fighting for political future

Monday, April 1, 2002

GEORGETOWN, Colo. -- Mayor Koleen Brooks no longer has keys to the town hall. She's been investigated for ordering a hit on a police officer, accused of flashing her breasts in a bar and faces criminal charges for allegedly making up a story about being assaulted.

Now, the former stripper-turned-mayor is the target of a recall vote, just halfway through her first term.

"I've been a punching bag for a year," said Brooks, a 38-year-old who now owns a hair salon and is a motorcycle aficionado.

Just one year after Brooks was solidly elected to a two-year term, residents of this tiny mountain town 45 miles west of Denver go to the polls Tuesday to vote on recalling Brooks and electing a new mayor.

Critics say Brooks has abused her office and embarrassed the town with unwanted publicity.

Brooks was accused of flashing her breasts in a bar last October, a charge she denies. She has told reporters she smoked pot. State investigators looked into claims that Brooks tried to have a police officer killed, but no charges were filed. Brooks blames the officer's ex-girlfriend for starting the rumor.

In February, Brooks appeared in television interviews with scratches and bruises she said came after she was attacked while walking at night. A prosecutor concluded she fabricated the story.

Some residents say Brooks and her good intentions for Georgetown have been obscured by her antics.

Bucking the system

"She just bucked the system and now everyone is down on her," said Bill Price, a school custodian. "I think she was trying to go in the right direction but she didn't know how to get there."

In an interview at her Dare to be Different hair and tanning salon, Brooks touted her efforts to build a skatepark for children and a footpath over a creek running through town. The opposition she has met and the recall effort, she blames on residents sensitive about the town's historic mining past.

She said preservationists have fought her proposals to bring new business and events like an Oktoberfest festival and a motorcycle rally to town.

"This is a mining town. It's never been an easy place," Brooks said.

To further complicate matters, the selectboard accused her of trying to abolish the police department. Later, the selectboard decided that no elected officials should have keys to the town hall, and Brooks was convinced they were targeting her.

As the effort to recall Brooks gained momentum, Brooks and her supporters mounted their own effort to recall most of the selectboard.

They say the board should have put changes to the town's zoning laws to a referendum, although some are skeptical since one member who stood with the rest of the board was not targeted.

Those changes and the recall of four board members are also on Tuesday's ballot.

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