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January 15, 2013
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Hydro opponent against Aspen mayor's run for council

ASPEN - Aspen resident Ward Hauenstein, an occasional political foe of Mayor Mick Ireland, spoke up at Monday's City Council meeting to question whether state law is clear on whether someone who is term-limited from running for mayor of Aspen can run for a council seat in the next election cycle.Hauenstein argued that Aspen's mayor also serves as a council member and has no more legislative powers than someone serving on the council. He said the intent of term limits is to promote new candidates for public office, and he asked council members to look into potential ambiguities in the law and seek ways to amend it at the local level. Ireland cannot seek re-election in the May 7 mayor's contest. He is nearing the end of his third consecutive two-year term as the city's top elected official. Council members are limited to two consecutive four-year terms in office.Ireland said he hasn't decided whether he will make a bid for a council seat. Councilman Torre, who plans to run for mayor, referred to Hauenstein's inquiry as "ridiculous" and suggested that if voters don't want a council member to ascend to the mayor's post, or vice versa, they won't vote that way.City Attorney Jim True said state law is clear in saying that the mayor's office and council posts are completely separate elected posts. The council voted to release the content of his memorandum citing his analysis of the issue."The fundamental question in this evaluation is whether the office of mayor and the office of a council member in the city of Aspen are considered the same offices," True's memo says. "Under (the state constitution and the city charter), the offices are separate and distinct. Thus, a council member can run for mayor and a mayor can run for council, even though he or she was term-limited in the existing position."Hauenstein said he was speaking on his own behalf and not that of the city's Election Commission, a three-member board upon which he serves. He crossed with Ireland last year over the Castle Creek Energy Center advisory question, which failed in the Nov. 6 election. Ireland was a vocal supporter of the hydropower project, which faced a cost escalation of $3.2 million above the $7 million the city already has spent. Hauenstein successfully worked with another local resident, Maurice Emmer, to gather signatures on a petition that essentially forced the city to hold the referendum on the near future of the project.In other business:• Council members listened to a concern voiced by Bob Wade, owner of the Ute Mountaineer, regarding the golf-simulation cage that's temporarily located in the Red Mountain Grill dining area at the Aspen Golf Club complex. Ute Mountaineer operates the cross-country skiing center in the pro shop during winters.Wade said the large contraption - which is rented out between 3 and 9 p.m. to golfers seeking to keep their game fine-tuned during the snowy months when the course is closed - is too loud and can be heard in the pro shop, which is open until 5 p.m.He said in general, it takes away some of the atmosphere of the nordic skiing experience. Skiers are reluctant to use the restaurant because of its presence, as the high-tech golfing simulator takes up a large portion of the dining area. Council members offered to study the matter, including short-term solutions that would decrease the noise coming from the restaurant when the simulator is being used. They pointed out that the simulator, which was donated to the city, is only being housed in the restaurant during the winter on an experimental basis to see if there is interest in the amenity. A long-term solution under consideration for future years might be to put the machine in the building's basement, but the current simulator is too tall for the basement and would require moderately expensive renovations of that area.• The council voted 4-1, with Derek Johnson dissenting, to deny AT&T the right to keep a portable tower at the Maroon Creek Club for the remainder of the ski season.An AT&T representative told the council that the portable tower, which rises to 60 feet, would improve connectivity for residents and visitors alike in the Buttermilk area. It also would complement public safety, given that 70 percent of 911 calls are made on cellular phones. AT&T already received city approval to keep the tower and its related infrastructure, called a cell on wheels, at Buttermilk for 14 days surrounding the ESPN Winter X Games.Council members generally said they would prefer a permanent solution to the connectivity issues in that area and cited the cell on wheels' effect on community aesthetics.asalvail@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 15, 2013 07:30AM Published Jan 15, 2013 12:58AM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.