| AspenTimes.com

Aspen City Council candidates offer business perspectives for resort community

Five of the eight candidates running for Aspen City Council in next week’s election gave their perspectives on business issues Wednesday in a virtual forum hosted by the chamber of commerce.

All but one candidate, ski instructor Jimbo Stockton, said they would do away with Pitkin County’s traveler affidavit program, which the Aspen Chamber Resort Association is asking to be suspended arguing that it is deterring guests from coming here.

The county and its board of public health are considering changes to the program, which requires guests to submit an online affidavit acknowledging they haven’t had symptoms for 10 days and have either been fully vaccinated or have received a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of arriving here. The program also requires visitors to quarantine for 10 days if they are not tested before arrival.

Candidate John Doyle said he has had friends not visit this winter because of the affidavit program, while Stockton said some of his clients said it has made them feel safer.

Candidate Kimbo Brown-Schirato said it’s more detrimental than effective since it’s a voluntary, honor-system program.

“The bottom line is we as a community are not willing to enforce any of the rules that we set forth and ‘let’s trust people to do the right thing’ might be naive,” she said.

Candidate Sam Rose, who is the lead contact tracer for Pitkin County, agreed.

“We live in a capitalistic society and viable businesses are not supposed to be failing and things like the travel affidavit just put like a crutch in our businesses and hotels and our whole economic ecosystem,” he said. “It was an idealistic approach that proved not be effective.”

Incumbent Ward Hauenstein also said because the program is not enforced it should be revoked.

Candidates Erin Smiddy, Casey Endsley and Mark Reece did not participate in the forum because they had other obligations.

Of the five who did participate, there was a significant portion of time dedicated to questions surrounding the management of short-term rentals.

Doyle said addressing these rental properties is a big part of his campaign platform because they present an unfair advantage over small lodges.

“They don’t have to pay as much taxes, they provide no parking, they provide no housing for their workers to clean their rooms,” he said.

Others agreed that they need to be tracked and regulated, and that the city is making strides to do that.

Brown-Schirato, whose campaign platform focuses on providing more workforce housing, had a new idea related to the issue.

“Instead of taxing and sort of sticking it to people, let’s incentivize our free-market homeowners and rental units so it’s for the highest and best use and have employees in there,” she said, referring to similar programs in other Colorado mountain towns. “They are incentivizing by actually buying deed restrictions.”

ACRA President and CEO Debbie Braun, who moderated the forum, asked the candidates who they would most align with.

Stockton picked Aspen Mayor Torre for his authentic concern for the community and its guests.

Doyle said most of the existing council members, but said even though he just got to know him, he would most closely align with Hauenstein.

Brown-Schirato said the most important aspect is that there is a majority on council to move policy forward. She noted Torre, council member Skippy Mesirow and candidate Reece are people she would consider in alignment with.

Rose said he would most align with Brown-Schirato, Mesirow and council member Ann Mullins, who is leaving office after two, four-year terms and is term limited.

Hauenstein wasn’t asked that question but answered how he resolves conflict.

“Patient, listening, perhaps empathy,” he said. “The realization that the other point of view has validity and acknowledging that sometimes conflict cannot be resolved, but if it exists it can at least be done while all people can be friends to each other, with each other.”

When asked whether candidates would go outside of their platform to represent all constituents, or stick with their campaign promises, Brown-Schirato said everyone runs on housing but nothing gets done, so she is committed to bringing solutions that don’t include building.

She also will move affordable child care forward and re-engage with the Aspen Area Community Plan, the resort community’s guiding document.

“Every single decision up to this point is wrought with infighting and people and development versus not,” she said. “We don’t know as a community where we want to go in the next five, 10, 25 years. … I’ll listen to everyone but we need to figure out where we are going.”

Doyle countered that the community plan maps out where Aspen is headed and is updated every 10 years, with 2022 being the next year that it is scheduled for an update.

“It’s a very important document that spells out very clearly what we should be doing as a community and what our goals are as a community,” he said. “We really do need to follow the Aspen Area Community Plan closer than we have been.”

Rose said he will fight for the issues he has focused his platform on, which is affordable housing and child care.

“I’m a type of person that sets tangible goals, but I won’t put up with stagnation,” he said. “If we said we’re all going to agree on something, we will find something to get it done but definitely not in an obtrusive way.”

Candidates also were asked several other questions, from whether public parks should be closed for special events to the importance of arts and culture to the resort community, as well as other business and COVID-19 related questions.

The election is March 2. Voters are being asked to bring their ballot to the ballot box on Galena Street in front of City Hall, since there is not enough time to mail them and have them receive it in time. In-person voting is currently available at Aspen City Hall.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the clerk’s office had received roughly 900 ballots. There are about 6,000 registered voters in the city of Aspen.

Csackariason@aspentimes.com

Links to candidate forums, interviews

To view the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s City Council candidate forum, log onto:

https://aspenchamber.org/membership/membership-information/member-events

To view last week’s Squirm Night debate, log onto:

Election

To view a series of interviews with candidates on Grassroots TV, log onto:

Aspen City Council candidates raise the stakes in fundraising

Collage of the Aspen City Council candidates 2021. Top row from left: Sam Rose, Erin Smiddy, Casey Endsley, John Doyle; second row from left: Ward Hauenstein, Jimbo Stockton, Mark Reece, Kimbo Brown-Schirato.

Campaign fundraising and spending among Aspen City Council candidates is ramping up as finance reports due Monday show thousands of dollars have been contributed and spent in a 12-day period.

Kimbo Brown-Schirato, who is vying against seven other candidates for two open seats, still leads in fundraising with an additional $3,275 between Feb. 9 and Sunday. That brings her total fundraising to $10,575.

Brown-Schirato has spent over $3,343 on web-based advertising, Facebook and printing.

Mark Reece raised $3,635 in the past 10 days in addition to his self-loan of $5,000 during the first reporting period, which covered Jan. 1 through Feb. 8.

He has spent $4,155, mostly on door hangers, printing, flyers, newspaper ads and yard signs.

John Doyle raised $1,850 in the second reporting period, bringing his total to $5,350.

His expenditures of $2,115 have mostly been on newspaper advertising.

Candidate Casey Endsley loaned himself $5,000 and has a total of $7,270.

He has spent $837 on envelopes, business cards, voter data, Shutterfly and food for an event at Mi Chola.

Incumbent Ward Hauenstein has raised $950 in this most recent reporting period and has raised a total of just under $3,500.

His expenses total $1,110, but the list of expenditures were not available in his filing Monday evening.

Candidates Erin Smiddy, Sam Rose and Jimbo Stockton have not raised any funds.

Mayor Torre, who is defending his seat against challenger Lee Mulcahy, raised $2,125 between Feb. 10 and Saturday. That’s in addition to $1,150 raised in the first reporting period, along with $490 on hand from a previous campaign.

Mulcahy raised $270 in the last reporting period, bringing his total to $969.

Brown-Schirato has received donations from more than 60 people, including many professionals in the development and real estate industries, and dozens of maximum contributions of $250.

Doyle, who has about 50 donors, has the support from many longtime locals and avid skiers. His contributors include current City Councilwoman Rachel Richards, who donated $50.

Richards, along with her colleague Ann Mullins who is leaving council after eight years of serving and is term limited, is supporting Hauenstein and gave $250 toward his campaign.

Former mayors Steve Skadron and Mick Ireland also contributed to Hauenstein’s campaign.

The number of donors was not available on his campaign filing Monday evening, but he had received money from about two dozen in the first reporting period.

Endsley reported one donation of $250 in the last reporting period from Robert Scherer, who is self employed in commercial real estate.

Reece had 21 contributors in the last reporting period, including Scherer, and a wide-ranging list of residents in the valley.

Torre had 17 contributors in the last reporting period, and has spent just over $250 on signs.

City Clerk Nicole Henning said Monday that her office has received roughly 690 ballots.

The election is March 2.

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Aspen council candidates share views during wide-ranging event

Collage of the Aspen City Council candidates 2021. Top row from left: Sam Rose, Erin Smiddy, Casey Endsley, John Doyle; second row from left: Ward Hauenstein, Jimbo Stockton, Mark Reece, Kimbo Brown-Schirato.

Of the eight candidates vying for two seats on Aspen City Council, four of them did not vote in the last municipal election, and all of them have not attended a council meeting in years, except the incumbent, and only two said they have not violated local COVID-19 public health orders.

Those revelations, among others, were made public Thursday during the traditional, albeit non-traditional Zoom platform, Squirm Night debate among the candidates hosted by The Aspen Times, Aspen Daily News and GrassRoots TV.

After 90 minutes of answering questions, candidates showed their differences on development, the government’s response to the pandemic, the environment and city spending, among other topics.

One of the biggest opposing viewpoints was between candidates Casey Endsley and John Doyle, when asked how much the city should be focusing on the environment.

“I think we do a good job with it now, and I think we have to continue to keep our eye on that, but I don’t think we need to be spending a whole lot more money other than what we are doing already,” said Endsley, who is a hunter and fisherman. “I think for the most part Aspen is a very green community, and I don’t feel like our very small footprint here is doing much to change that one way or the other.”

Doyle said the city should be very focused on climate change because every single issue that comes before City Council has an environmental component and it’s why people visit Aspen.

“Without a stable environment we are not going to have visitors coming here,” he said. “Currently, 50 percent of the American West is under severe drought, the whole state of Colorado is under exceptional drought and forest fires are becoming more frequent and intense.”

Endsley and candidate Mark Reece agreed on their criticisms of the Pitkin County Board of Public Health’s decision to enter into the Red-level restrictions last month, which shut down indoor dining.

Both said the board was not well informed and could have listened more to outside influencers before going after local businesses.

Endsley said the board should’ve listened to more medical staff.

That’s despite health professionals, including Dr. Kim Levin who is the county’s medical officer and a physician at Aspen Valley Hospital, serving on the board of health.

Reece said the board should’ve trusted local residents more on how they were handling the spread of the virus and instead target the airport, because everyone coming through there was supposed to sign an affidavit and take a COVID test.

Endsley said one of the biggest threats to the community that is overlooked is mental health, citing that five people have died locally related to that issue in the past 72 hours.

When asked in hindsight what the city could have done better in its response to COVID, incumbent Ward Hauenstein said overall the local government has done a good job considering all that’s in play.

“I’m very proud of our efforts,” he said. “It’s like designing a plane in mid-flight … it’s been a balancing act between public health and economic sustainability of the town and personal and civil liberties.”

Candidate Sam Rose, who is the lead contact tracer for the county, said he would have done so many things differently.

“I think communication has been just flat out terrible,” he said. “I think if people knew what contact tracing was and what it was supposed to accomplish I think we would have a lot more realistic approach than the idealistic approach that we take.”

Erin Smiddy and Kimbo Brown-Schirato agreed that there will be lasting effects of COVID on the community, particularly businesses that will not be able to stay open.

And in the process, a division is occurring in the community, among small business owners who can’t afford to shut down and reopen as opposed to major conglomerates like Aspen Skiing Co., Smiddy said.

Brown-Schirato said one of most egregious examples of spending she’s seen from the city was the six-figure survey to poll people outside of the community on what type and how much affordable housing should be at the lumberyard parcel at the Aspen Business Center.

She said the survey should have had demographic information of the respondents.

“Those types of decisions should be dictated by data and not by the larger community that may or may not wish for employee housing in any way shape or form in any place,” she said.

She also said the city could be more efficient in how it spends its tax revenue to fund housing each year.

Candidate Jimbo Stockton, who also was asked what the most egregious spending has been by the city, was at a loss for words and passed on answering.

He did the same when asked how to expedite building permit review for homeowners looking to do a remodel, or a business owner renovating a commercial space or a developer trying to redevelop a property.

When asked that question, Doyle responded that more staff should be hired in the building department.

Smiddy said she her biggest pet peeve, or one of them anyway, is the amount of money the city spends on outside consultants.

“Someone from the city who has no idea what goes on in our town comes in and makes a decision and we spend a ton of money and we just go with it,” she said. “I’m pretty much a never on the consultant issue.”

Reece, who was asked the same question, said the city should draw on the intellectual talent of the town’s residents.

“(Put a) simple ad in the newspaper asking if anyone has any experience and can you help?” he said. “I bet people would come out of the woodwork, and we could probably solve so many of these problems.”

Both Hauenstein and Smiddy agreed that the current land-use code incentivizing small lodges by allowing developers to not have to fully mitigate for employee generation needs to be changed.

That hindsight comes after developers of a 320,000-square-foot commercial development on the west side of Aspen Mountain’s base area were able to provide less employee housing than other projects due to the land-use code.

“I think we should change the incentive so that workforce housing becomes more important than smaller lodges,” said Hauenstein, who voted on council to approve $4.36 million in public money toward the Lift One project that brought the issue to the forefront.

Smiddy, who voted against the project, said it drove her crazy to see that developers were able to use the land-use code to their advantage.

“I don’t think we’re at the point where eventually we’re going to run out of locals, we’ve hit that point and the more of these developments we keep letting them get away with that, who’s going to work there? Who’s going to be the volunteers, who’s going to be the City Council candidates?” she asked. “We need to enforce every development and have developers hold up their end of the bargain and be accountable.”

The entire Zoom video can be viewed on the Aspen Times’ website at aspentimes.com/election and the Times’ Facebook page.

Csackariason@aspentimes.com

Mulcahy concedes mayor’s seat during debate

Aspen mayoral candidate Lee Mulcahy, who is in a yearslong legal battle with the city over whether he is eligible to live in a taxpayer-subsidized house the government now owns, conceded the election to incumbent Torre after a 50-minute debate on Thursday.

“Let’s be honest, he’s going to get re-elected and I want to be the first to congratulate him,” Mulcahy said. “But I think we can see a way forward because all we are asking for is peace in this community.”

Torre is seeking a second two-year term to finish the goals he set out to do, before the COVID-19 crisis started nearly a year ago.

“There’s many things that I don’t feel like have gotten as far as I want, like the waste diversion program that we’re trying to get to, some of the changes in our organization that we’re still working on,” Torre said. “Maybe we haven’t tackled transit perhaps as much as I’d like … it’s always a struggle about the pace of government and how we get things done, when we get things done … I want to see us moving forward faster.”

Mulcahy, a registered Republican, did not directly answer questions about his support for Congresswoman Lauren Boebert and her belief in the QAnon conspiracy theory, or her connection to the Proud Boys, a far-right, neo-fascist white male violent political group.

He also did not answer a question about whether he will peacefully leave the home he is occupying in Burlingame Ranch, a city-developed subdivision across from Buttermilk, once his legal options are exhausted.

He has stated at city council meetings in the past that there will be a war and people could die if they are forcibly removed.

Mulcahy said if he was elected, his two priorities would be to halt executive sessions by the council and find a way to allow a local woman, Sonya Bolerjack, from not being forced by the housing authority to sell her home.

She, along with Mulcahy, have been found guilty by the Pitkin County District Court of not adhering to the work requirement of 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County.

“What has been done to her by the bureaucrats and the (Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority) is frankly shameful,” Mulcahy said. “We do not want to be that kind of a community. … We are not that kind of community.”

The two mayoral candidates also talked about what types of workforce housing should be prioritized, what measures city government should’ve taken related to the pandemic and their positions on a host of other issues.

The Zoom video can be viewed on The Aspen Times website and Facebook page. The event was hosted by The Aspen Times, Aspen Daily News and GrassRoots TV.

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Aspen mayoral candidates on how to get more housing without building it

 

Candidates for the two-year term discuss alternatives to building affordable housing in Aspen

Editor’s note: Today is the fourth question in a series of five posed to the two Aspen mayoral candidates. Their answers (200-word limit) will be published each day through Friday. For more information on the 2021 Aspen municipal election, go to aspentimes.com/election.

What other methods are there to achieve more affordable housing other than building new housing?

Torre

We have got a lot of opportunities that we need to pursue for a comprehensive approach to the long term affordable housing strategy.

I am advocating for a community involved process to develop long range goals and planning.

We need to start by refining the current program, ensuring that we are operating an efficient, fair and maximized program. We are bringing in a new executive director, amending guidelines and making process reform in APCHA.

We have got to address the capital improvement and maintenance of existing housing stock in order to keep these homes in a condition that maintains our pride in them and extends the useful lifespan.

Another opportunity that is approaching is to find resolve for the deed restrictions that will be expiring in the coming years.Keeping these units in the program is an important step to avoid the need for building new units.

We need to create more partnerships to support the housing efforts of those that need it. Sharing resources to tackle this issue of utmost importance is the only way we can make the necessary improvements going forward.

Lee Mulcahy

Allow people to build tiny homes. First, reform APCHA. Here are a few examples of why it needs to be reformed.

Jeffrey Evans, a midvalley resident who ran for Pitkin County commissioner in 2020 and lost, stated: “The Mulcahy saga has dragged on for so long that many have forgotten … Here’s your reminder. If you are one of the 3,000 or so people/families living in housing under the influence of the housing authority, keep your mouth shut. Do not criticize local government. Remember that the Aspen Institute is above reproach in all things. Attempts to organize workers at Aspen Skiing Co. will be treated like nuclear terrorism. Got it? Good, you can stay in your home.”

Also, APCHA has instituted a public comment policy that smacks of China. As discovered in an open records request, the public comment policy was written by the police and forwarded to APCHA. A hilarious transcript from a 2018 APCHA meeting:

(APCHA’s chair) asks Mulcahy to remove his hat.

“Yes, your highness,” – Mulcahy

“I think that that’s an inappropriate comment and I don’t expect to hear that from you any more during the public comments,” (the Chair) retorted.

When Mulcahy subsequently followed with, “You said I couldn’t criticize you two weeks ago,” the APCHA chair replied, “You can’t criticize us.”

I humbly ask for your vote.

Aspen council candidates to face off Thursday night in virtual Squirm Nights

In partnership with Grassroots TV, The Aspen Times and the Aspen Daily News on Thursday will moderate a virtual Squirm Night, first among the eight candidates vying for the two open seats on Aspen City Council and then between the two mayoral hopefuls.

The events, happening between 5 and 8 p.m. on Zoom and streaming on Facebook and YouTube, will each feature a series of questions to better inform voters ahead of the March 2 election. Because of the number of City Council candidates, 90 minutes has been slated for that forum, until 6:30 p.m. Mayoral incumbent Torre and challenger Lee Mulcahy will then begin at 6:45 p.m.

During the Aspen City Council candidate Squirm Night, contenders will have the opportunity to give a two-minute opening statement and answer a few rapid-fire questions before diving into more tailored questions ranging in topics from housing and development to environmental issues to the COVID-19 response and government processes. In the interest of fairness, each candidate will be asked the same number of questions — but not the same questions. Rather, everyone will be given time to make a closing statement, at which time a candidate may address an issue or point made earlier in the evening.

City council candidates include: Kimbo Brown-Schirato, John Doyle, Casey Endsley, Ward Hauenstein, Mark Reece, Samuel Rose, Erin Smiddy and Jim Stockton.

The livesteam will be carried live at aspentimes.com and on the Election home page, as well as The Aspen Times Facebook page. To read more on the candidates, go to aspentimes.com/election.

The event will also be on GrassRootsTV’s YouTube page.

Aspen mayoral candidates offer up their priorities

Editor’s note: Today is the fourth question in a series of five posed to the two Aspen mayoral candidates. Their answers (200-word limit) will be published each day through Friday. For more information on the 2021 Aspen municipal election, go to aspentimes.com/election.

Torre

I still believe in and am dedicated to doing the hard work that is ahead of us. My top priority is to improve the city of Aspen government.

We have a new focus on customer service and communication with and for the public as a guiding value and work ethic.

This is where it all begins, we work for you, all of you.

We are making organizational changes, improving communications, focusing our values and aligning decision-making.

By making these changes, we will be able to be more efficient, effective, and represent our community in the decisions that impact us all.

Housing and business opportunities for locals are two other top goals as we set our expectations for this year. Aspen’s affordable housing program needs improvement and progress in APCHA regulations, capital reserves and maintenance, developing new units, and addressing deed restriction sunsets. We must create a program that can provide opportunity for local housing of workforce, maintain stability for residents, and offer long term community building residents a chance for equity.

Locally owned, local-serving and local-sourced business and products need our support. Land use code changes, affordable commercial space, and removing barriers to startup businesses are a few of the initiatives I will pursue in this next term.

Lee Mulcahy

Halt the People’s Republic of Aspen’s secret “executive” sessions. Government behind closed doors is damaging to democracy. We’re the state joke: Moscow in the Mountains.

Partner with Aspen Skiing Co. and Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club to build an Olympic training center (like Steamboat) with ramps and a pool for freestyle aerial training at the schools and Aspen Highlands.

Bridle the bullies. To forgive is divine. Skico was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. However, it’s a monopoly and acts like one. As a labor activist, my goal as mayor would be to make working people as powerful as the corporation is.

Without strong unions, the imbalance of power between corporations and employees is so hopeless that it has produced a society where a tiny handful of super-rich billionaires get ever richer, even while wages stagnate for everyone else and labor rights are constantly eroded, making the American Dream of upward mobility a cruel joke. In other words, what Aspen is now.

Lastly, throw a giant fabulous retirement party in the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson for our City Attorney and Aspen housing’s private attorney (since the previous Ice Age) and thank them for their service.

Aspen mayoral candidates offer their opinions on government response to pandemic

Editor’s note: Today is the third question in a series of five posed to the two Aspen mayoral candidates. Their answers (200-word limit) will be published each day through Friday. For more information on the 2021 Aspen municipal election, go to aspentimes.com/election.

What do you think should be the city’s role in financially assisting local businesses during the pandemic?

Torre

Firstly, let us all remember that the support and relief for businesses is not about the dollars to the establishments, it is about the people. Business assistance is to maintain the employment and lifeblood in our community. The city should do direct relief funding, assist in getting state resources to businesses in our community and reduce or eliminate some of the fees and taxes that are levied.

The city can help give businesses the ability to be creative in their delivery of services without charging them for it. Allowing the use of right of way, expanded outdoor opportunities and allocating parking for pick up have all been successful in the efforts to support businesses.

Aspen’s restaurant and business community have done a great job of pivoting and adjusting their operations. We need to support them, as this community has risen to do.

The city should continue to facilitate tapping in to the private resources that this community has. Thank you to the individuals, landlords and organizations that have also stepped up for the greater good.

This is a true test of our community resiliency and togetherness, a test that Aspen and the city will triumph over together.

Lee Mulcahy

Local government shutting small businesses is overreaching. Government cannot seem to live within the confines of the Constitution.

Our local politicians have declared war on liberty and freedom. Worse, free speech, due process, transparency and the right to challenge government wrongdoing have become casualties. Sadly, former Aspen Sheriff Bob Braudis told me he believes we now live in a police state.

Our local Democrats cannot handle a major crisis without attempting to grab more power. It’s necessary to state I love Mayor Torre who is an Independent. We’ve been friends for over 25 years. Society moves forward by acts of peace and compromise.

Nevertheless, the rent relief program was a fantastic public-private partnership. Aspen gift cards should be reissued. The community owes Kenny and Robin Smith a giant hug for their efforts to work with ACRA in the restaurant matching initiative. Genius.

The divide between the left and the right over the proper role of government may lead to the decline of our Democracy. In Aspen, capitalism is fundamentally broken. We’ve perverted the ability of a few billionaires to completely bastardize the system and destroy what made this country great.

Courage, deep humility and compassion are necessary now. It’s no time for nasty partisanship.

Aspen mayoral candidates give views on local COVID-19 response

Editor’s note: Today is the second question in a series of five posed to the two Aspen mayoral candidates. Their answers (200-word limit) will be published each day through Friday. For more information on the 2021 Aspen municipal election, go to aspentimes.com/election.

Is there something you would change to the local COVID-19 public health order?

Torre

I believe that we are getting back to the right place with our public health order.

It has been a challenge over the past year to make decisions based on information we were getting from national and state guidance.

The public health orders need to balance protecting the general public, combating the virus and mitigating the impacts on community health.

For the long term, we must develop a way to live safely with the threat of this or other unknown communicable diseases. We need to be precise in our actions and implement targeted precautions that create the ability for us to stay functioning safely for all residents.

Lee Mulcahy

A government that is shutting small businesses is overreaching. In light of incoming packed commercial airplanes? Weight hospitalizations rather than case numbers. Add APCHA threatening evicting a single mom (born and raised here) and her two kids in the middle of a pandemic.

Editor’s note: The rest of the 200-word answer Lee Mulcahy submitted was not pertinent to the question on COVID-19 policy.

Aspen mayoral candidates talk about what they can do for you

Editor’s note: Today is the first question in a series of five posed to the two Aspen mayoral candidates. Their answers (200-word limit) will be published each day through Friday. For more information on the 2021 Aspen municipal election, go to aspentimes.com/election.

What can you do as the Aspen mayor to improve the average citizen’s quality of life?


Torre

Age: 51

Short bio: I have lived from Basalt to Aspen and everywhere in between. I have worked on the mountain, in lodges, bars and restaurants, events and concerts, teaching tennis and have worked for the city in many roles.

I have a broad experience and wide ranging perspective for the many different lives our residents live. I ask for your vote to keep working for you and the best Aspen to come.

Years lived in Aspen: 27

Reason that you decided to run: I am running for reelection as your mayor to continue the work we started for a healthy and sustainable Aspen, improved government processes, affordable housing long-range planning, and locally owned and serving business opportunities.

What can you do as the Aspen mayor to improve the average citizen’s quality of life?

That is the job. As mayor, I seek to improve the quality of life for every resident. The decisions we make at the council table affect every aspect of quality of life. The basic needs of safety, food, shelter and a sense of community are of fundamental importance.

Environmental stewardship and climate actions are also important to quality of life. Every person has a different life and different needs to improve their quality of life.

I want to continue working on transit options for the community that can alleviate the stress, cost and environmental impacts of commuting.

I seek to create and support business opportunity for locals. We must retain and increase the amount of affordable business space and opportunity.

I also aspire to create a more connected community, one that supports one another and the community programs that provide access to recreational and cultural amenities.


Lee Mulcahy

Age: 56

Short bio: Bachelors at Baylor; Masters at SMU; PhD at UTA; Sorbonne; Universidad de Salamanca. Teacher for 17 years. Artist, exhibited in Berlin’s KW Institute of Contemporary Art and Beijing’s 798.

Served on Aspen Historical Museum’s Board of Trustees and Snowmass Village Arts Advisory Board. Banned from the Aspen Art Museum for a painting. Expelled from the Aspen Institute for predicting revolution.

Years lived in Aspen: 26

Reason that you decided to run: I love and am devoted to this community. The system is rigged. Government cannot seem to live within the confines of the Constitution. Free speech, the right to challenge government wrongdoing, due process, transparency and privacy have become casualties of the government’s war on little people and liberty.

Aspen has become a corporate feudal state. Sheriff Bob Braudis points out that our current oligarchy is in actuality a police state. Without Aspen closing all the restaurants, capitalism here is fundamentally broken. We’ve perverted the ability of a few with capital to completely bastardize the system and destroy the social fabric of what made this country great. It would be very Hunter S. Thompson to have an Aspen mayor that was banned from the art museum and riding ski lifts.

You can learn a lot about someone from their family. I was mentored in public service by my best friend and the most honorable man I’ve ever known, my late father. He came from a farm in south Texas without running water, but my mom’s (a teacher) educational roots go back to her great grandfather’s founding of Baylor University in 1845 under the Republic of Texas.

I am grateful for many things but especially for growing up under these two inspirational people who devoted their lives to helping those less fortunate. www.africawaterwells.org

What can you do as the Aspen mayor to improve the average citizen’s quality of life?

Be gentle and humble. Listen.

There are two types of people: Those that want to be left alone (libertarians) and those that want to control (authoritarians).

Citizens, unlike our local politicians, my guiding philosophy is libertarian: limited government and freedom.

We need to remember that at the end of the day, every government measure can be compelled by force with the point of a gun.

The community should realize that I love Torre, and we’ve been friends for over a quarter of a century; however, I will bring a peaceful but conservative voice to Aspen in these challenging times.

Reform APCHA. It’s the biggest bully on the block. If you give people (the APCHA board chaired by Skippy Mesirow) unlimited power, they’ll use it. That’s human nature.

Halt Aspen secret “executive” sessions. Government behind closed doors is damaging to democracy.

Bridle the City Attorney’s excessive control on City Hall by being a watchdog instead of a lapdog.

It appears my fellow Irish Catholic, President Joe Biden, is raising the minimum wage. If the president fails, Aspen should pass a raise in the minimum wage affecting corporations employing more than 100 people — thereby, leaving small business alone.

Jesus taught love. We’re stronger together.