Snowmass mayor declines bid for third term | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass mayor declines bid for third term

Katie ReddingThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE Citing his 18 years on Town Council, Doug “Merc” Mercatoris said Monday he will not run for a third term as mayor of Snowmass Village, leaving the door open for challengers Arnie Mordkin and Bill Boineau.Monday was the deadline in Snowmass for campaign applications, and in the end, there will be a race for three elected positions on the Town Council. Councilman Mordkin will vie for the mayors seat in the November election against Boineau, a former councilman and current planning commission member.Three candidates will contend for the two open council seats Kay Honigman-Singer, planning commission member Markey Butler and incumbent John Wilkinson.

Mordkin, an attorney who has served eight years on Town Council and two on planning commission, said he is running because the town needs a change. It needs to take back its town from development, he said. I dont think the community desires a blanket yes answer to anything the developer wants to do.Like all candidates, he argued that one of the biggest issues facing Snowmass in the upcoming term is development, particularly in West Village and the Snowmass Center. He also highlighted the placement of the gas station, the possible development of the draw site in the canyon behind Town Call for employee housing, and the second phase of the Rodeo Place employee-housing project. Mordkin cited a recent survey in which residents said they didnt want anymore development until they had a chance to measure the impact of current development. He suggested it was important to follow the communitys wishes. Mordkin is also proposing to stop electing a mayor and instead have the Town Council appoint one. Under his plan, mayors would be barred from serving more than two consecutive one-year terms. He argued that elected mayors are constantly campaigning and that the mayoral title invites people to ask for favors. Unwittingly, you make promises to people that you cant really keep, he said. His competitor, Boineau, also has served two terms as a councilman, as well as on the Snowmass planning commission, in the volunteer fire department, and for the board of the fire district. He works in property management and computer information technology. I empathize with the crowd thats been around in Snowmass for the last 20 or 30 years, he said, adding that hed like to put the town back into the hands of the working folks.He highlighted the importance of communication among the mayor, council and the constituents. Theres always going to be a number of folks who come to us and give us their opinion, he said, noting that he worries about the ones who dont. Boineau said that Base Village leads the list of concerns for many Snowmass residents and suggested that were the vote held today, the plan might not pass. However, he said it is impractical to hold up future development and tie up investors money. And he noted that one positive outcome of the Base Village development has been its domino effect, pointing out that several other buildings in Snowmass have recently undergone facelifts. Boineau also said that as mayor, he would encourage council not to micromanage but to set policy and hire the right people.

Wilkinson said that when he couldnt decide whether to run, he took a family poll. The result was 2-2, he said, noting that he knew his wife voted against him but is still trying to figure out which of his children did. Wilkinson, an insurance agent, is in his first term on Town Council. He has also served on the Pitkin County library board, the state library board, the state trails board, an ad hoc Snowmass trail board and on the Snowmass planning commission. Wilkinson focused on the need to finish up the towns comprehensive plan and codify it, so that the council has a guide going into the next phase of development. But in the short term, he said the biggest issue facing Snowmass is the economy.Vacations are a discretionary purchase, he said. He also cited a need to keep Snowmass affordable. And while he said he felt that Base Village, as passed, was bigger than what it needed to be, he believes the challenge now is to make it successful. Competitor Butler echoed many of the other candidates concerns, citing the build-out of Base Village, the upcoming planning for West Village and the Snowmass Center (both up next for renovation), the comprehensive plan and the economy as the greatest concerns for the next council. We dont want to have the issues we see in the great city of Aspen, she said. As we think about 2025 and build-out, the critical issue becomes capacity whats our carrying capacity? The new head of the Hospice of the Valley, Butler also volunteers as a ski ambassador for the Aspen Skiing Co., and as an ambassador for the Aspen Music Festival & School. She is also chair of the Colorado West Regional Mental Health Psychiatric Hospital in Grand Junction, vice-chair of the board of directors for Colorado West Regional Mental Health and president of the Snowmass Village Rotary Club. While she is now a full-time resident, she has been a second-home owner for years and said she understands their needs. The third candidate, Honigman-Singer, is an attorney and frequent council meeting attendee. The most important task for the next council will be preventing Skico or Related WestPac from making the town a place locals dont want to live, she argued. She was particularly vocal about the need to stop granting so-called minor changes that are actually more than minor to planned unit developments. Suggesting that Related WestPac is condescending toward the residents of Snowmass Village and that its head, Pat Smith, tries to bully the Town Council, she said she had a hard time trusting the developer. And she emphasized that all developers need to provide more affordable housing, adding that they should also provide affordable daycare. If elected, Honigman-Singer would be new to serving in Snowmass, but not to public service. She currently serves on the Michigan board of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Michigan board for the American Red Cross.kredding@aspentimes.com

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