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Basalt holds municipal election today

Basalt is holding its municipal election today for mayor and three council seats.

The mayor’s race features candidates Bill Infante, Bill Kane and Rob Leavitt.

Six candidates are running at-large for the three council seats. The candidates are Glenn Drummond, Tiffany Haddad, Elyse Hottel, David Knight, Jennifer Riffle and Kirk “Dieter” Schindler.

All terms are for four years. Current Mayor Jacque Whitsitt cannot run again due to term limits. In the council race, the only incumbent is Riffle. Incumbents Auden Schendler and Katie Schwoerer aren’t seeking re-election.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, this was scheduled as a mail ballot election. Town Clerk Pam Schilling said 2,538 ballots were mailed to registered voters last month. As of Monday, about 770 ballots were turned back in, according to Town Manager Ryan Mahoney through the mail or dropped off at a ballot box outside of town hall. At this point, ballots shouldn’t be mailed. They should be dropped off. In addition, voting is possible at town hall, but only one person will be allowed in through the main door at a time.

Schilling is hopeful that results will be available around 9 tonight.

Basalt officials urge residents to get their ballots turned in

Basalt town government officials are urging voters to submit their ballots as soon as possible rather than wait until the last minute.

The best way to make sure a ballot is counted is to return it to the drop box on the north side of Town Hall, off of Midland Spur. The drop box is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. All ballots must be received by Town Clerk Pam Schilling by 7 p.m. Tuesday. At this point, ballots will not reach her in time by mail.

The town’s vendor mailed 2,538 ballots March 16. Schilling said 512 ballots were returned as of April 1.

So far, the turnout is slightly less than half of the turnout in the 2016 election that featured a hotly contested mayoral race. In that race, there were 1,099 ballots cast.

Schilling wants people with questions about ballots to call her as soon as possible.

“If people haven’t received their ballot or if they have any questions, they should call as soon as possible and avoid trying to do anything last minute on Election Day,” she said. She can be reached at 970-927-4701.

Voting will be possible at Town Hall on Tuesday, but it won’t be convenient for anyone involved. Public access to all town facilities is restricted because of the stay-at-home orders issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“On Election Day, only one person will be allowed into Town Hall to vote at a time,” said a notice from the town government. “Please return your mail ballot and avoid Town Hall.”

Basalt’s municipal election features a race for mayor and three council seats. Six candidates are running at-large for the council seats. They are Glenn Drummond, Tiffany Haddad, Elyse Hottel, David Knight, Jennifer Riffle and Kirk “Dieter” Schindler.

Riffle is the only incumbent seeking to return for a four-year term. Current council members Auden Schendler and Katie Schwoerer aren’t seeking re-election.

In the mayoral race, incumbent Jacque Whitsitt cannot run again because of term limits. The three candidates seeking the post are Rob Leavitt, Bill Infante and Bill Kane.

The town is using an instant runoff voting procedure for the first time. It was approved for mayoral races as part of the 2002 Home Rule Charter but never employed because there has never been more than two candidates until this year. In instant runoff voting, voters will be asked to rank the candidates by preference. If no candidate receives 50% plus one of the votes in the first tally, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The ballots for that candidate will be examined for the second preferences. They will be assigned to the other candidates to determine a winner.

Schilling said previously that election judges will count ballots for the mayoral race by hand. The votes in the council races will be counted by machine.

The election winners are scheduled to be sworn in April 28.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Six of nine candidates in Basalt election forego contributions; Kane far outspends foes

Basalt mayoral candidate Bill Kane has raised $5,470 in cash and more than $1,000 in in-kind service for his campaign, far outdistancing all other eight candidates in the April 7 municipal election in contributions and expenditures.

Kane’s report filed with the town of Basalt shows he has raised $5,470 from 25 donors. Neither of his opponents — Bill Infante or Rob Leavitt — accepted contributions.

In fact, Leavitt has attempted to make that an issue.

“I plan to make this campaign about ideas and leadership, not about yard signs,” Leavitt wrote in an opinion piece that recently ran in The Aspen Times. “I will not accept campaign contributions and pledge to spend no more than $1,000 on my campaign.”

He urged people who would otherwise support his campaign to contribute to schools, churches or environmental causes rather than politics.

Leavitt’s finance report said he has spent $521.59 for brochures and posters and he has collected $175 in in-kind service from a graphic designer.

Infante’s report said he has spent $26.64 for postcards, $330.07 for yard signs, $65.26 for the voter lists in Eagle and Pitkin counties and $299.74 with a printer. His total expenditures through March 17 were $721.71.

Kane spent $2,389.53 through March 12 on yard signs and door hangers. He had $3,080.47 cash in hand.

Kane’s donors were: Doug MacDonald, Basalt, $500; Sam Hais, Clayton, Missouri, $2,000; Margaret Woods, Basalt, $20; Barbara Reid, Aspen, $150; Don Erdman, Basalt, $50; Ken Ransford, Carbondale, $250; Michael Stern, Basalt, $150; David Myler, Basalt, $200; David Chase, Snowmass, $50; Arnold Porath, Aspen, $500; Alan Schwartz, Basalt, $200; Mary Fox, Basalt, $100; Kathleen Cole, Basalt, $100; Andrea Rossetti Hollerbach, Basalt, $50; Lucy Smythe, Basalt, $25; Linda Haydock, Basalt, $100; Enid Ritchig, Basalt, $50; David Corbin, Basalt, $100; Stanley Gertzbein, Basalt, $100; Nina and Dick Stumpf, Basalt, $100; Sally Cole, Basalt, $75; Kent Meager, Snowmass, $250; and Dennis Carruth, Carbondale, $150.

Kane received a contribution of $50 from incumbent Councilwoman Jennifer Riffle, who is seeking re-election, but her donation was returned, according to the report.

In addition to the cash, Kane received $1,031.25 in donated services or products for his campaign. That included $371.25 from Alan Schwartz for “meet and greet food” and the following amounts for other campaign events: $120 for one case of wine from Bill Hegberg; $40 for sparkling water and wine from Sarah Shaw; $300 for food and beverages from Gino and Donna Rossetti; and $200 from Basalt Town Councilman Auden Schendler.

In the council race, only Riffle and Glenn Drummond collected donations. Riffle’s report showed she collected $625 in donations from eight parties through Feb. 26. The contributors were John Perko, Basalt, $50; Doug MacDonald, Basalt, $300; Richard Stumpf and Heather Hicks, Carbondale, $25; Rose Ann and Michael Leiner, Aspen, $50; Lee Reed, Carbondale, $50; Bernie and Donna Grauer, Basalt, $50; Gerald Terwilliger, Basalt, $50; and Katie Schwoerer, Basalt, $50.

Riffle had spent $421.01 on yard signs through Feb. 26.

Council candidate Tiffany Haddad didn’t collect contributions and spent $160.16 on yard signs and $82.11 on campaign postcards, according to her report.

David Knight didn’t collect donations and spent $105 on yard signs and $52.87 on printing of materials.

Elyse Hottel didn’t collect donations or spend any funds, her report said.

Kirk “Dieter” Schindler didn’t collect donations and spent $399.84 on yard signs.

Drummond’s report said he collected $3,295 in contributions and spent $2,098.75 through March 17.

His donations came from: himself and his wife, Genny, $700; Nancy Drummond of Sheridan, Wyoming, $500; Jacque Whitsitt, mayor of Basalt, $300; Mark Drummond, Glenwood Springs, $500; Mead Meredith, Silver Spring, Maryland, $50; Jaime Cheman, Silver Spring, Maryland, $50; Temple Glassier, Missouri Heights, $875; and Doug MacDonald, Basalt, $300.

Drummond spent $137.20 on yard signs, $874.65 on printing materials and $1,052.90 on advertising.

He had $1,196.25 funds on hand as of March 17.

The April 7 election is by mail ballot. In addition to selecting a mayor from the three candidates, voters will fill three council seats from the field of six candidates.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Coronavirus pandemic forces Basalt candidates to explore new campaign strategies

There’s nothing like a pandemic to wipe out campaign strategy for candidates seeking public office.

The nine candidates in Basalt’s April 7 municipal election are being forced to get creative with their campaigns in the era of the coronavirus and social distancing.

Knocking on doors? Unacceptable. Small neighborhood gatherings to pitch your platform? No way. Candidate forums? No longer possible.

“It’s obviously put a huge damper on our ability to get out there and talk to people,” mayoral candidate Rob Leavitt said this week.

Mayoral candidate Bill Kane said he and his wife, Caroline, have “stepped down” their campaign efforts a couple of notches as coronavirus emerged as a very real threat this month. They went from knocking on doors and engaging with people to hanging cards that outline Kane’s positions on doorknobs.

“It just started feeling a little bit creepy even leaving (hangers),” he said.

He is considering making telephone calls but is weighing if even that would be an intrusion upon people at a stressful time when many people are out of work or dealing with working at home.

“My perception is this municipal election isn’t the top of the list of issues on people’s minds right now,” Kane said.

Mayoral candidate Bill Infante said he will experiment with social media to keep a personal touch to the campaign. He will host a Facebook Live discussion on his Facebook page. Participants must send him a “friend request” in advance to tap into the discussion, which will be on surviving and recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

The loss of the personal touch in campaigning is the biggest adjustment for Infante.

“Meeting face to face is always something I like,” he said. “I’m trying to maintain that personal touch.”

In addition to the live discussion, he is posting videos and text explaining his positions on social media as well as making phone calls to special contact lists.

“I’m using any platform I can to get the word out,” Infante said.

Town Manager Ryan Mahoney confirmed Thursday morning that the election will go on in Basalt despite the statewide stay-at-home order by Gov. Jared Polis. The order requires people to stay home with the only exception for essential tasks, such as trips to the grocery store and essential workers reporting for duty. Mahoney said election judges will be able to report to Town Hall to count ballots on Election Day. Judges were going through training Thursday.

As for voters, they should have received ballots in the mail by now. They can return them via mail, as long as they are received by Town Clerk Pam Schilling on April 7, or return them to the drop box at Town Hall.

Leavitt hopes Basalt residents are using the downtime to research the candidates’ positions and make an informed vote. Perhaps the spare time will spur more people to vote, Leavitt and Infante speculated. On the other hand, maybe people are too concerned with paying their bills to worry about the municipal election.

“There’s a possibility they won’t vote at all,” Infante said.

The election also features six candidates vying for three Town Council seats. It is an at-large race, so the three candidates drawing the most votes win.

Fortunately for all nine candidates in the races, forums were held earlier this month for the Town Council seats and mayor’s office before the ban on large group gatherings, so voters were able to see the candidates under pressure.

“These are strange times to try and campaign for a position in public office,” candidate Tiffany Haddad said.

She said she went door-to-door in a few neighborhoods early in the campaign, but had to cut her plans short. Now she’s focusing on social media.

Candidate Elyse Hottel organized a meet-and-greet with voters at a Basalt coffee shop just as coronavirus was grabbing attention in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“Originally, I had envisioned pop-up events at coffee shops and restaurants around town, knocking on doors, both business and residential, and standing at the stop sign by 7-Eleven at the end of the school day, waving hello to parents,” Hottel said. “But there are no kids in school and no parent pickups, there is no loitering in cafes and restaurants, and going door-to-door during a pandemic feels highly imprudent.”

She shifted her attention to print materials in newspapers and online. Ditto for candidate David Knight. He also suspended door-to-door, which he said had been insightful.

Candidate Jennifer Riffle said she still engages with people she meets while out walking her dog, though at a safe social distance and only if they want to talk campaign issues.

“What is unaffected campaign-wise is my non-use of Facebook,” she said.

Riffle, the only incumbent in the race, said she is spending more time focusing on her duties than campaigning. Duties at this time include reading daily reports from the Pitkin County Incident Management Team, Eagle County officials and the town of Basalt staff, she said.

Candidate Kirk “Dieter” Schindler said he planned to be active at this point in the campaign by knocking on doors and meeting with small groups. That strategy changed.

“What’s unaffected is that the network of friends and neighbors who are reaching out to talk about Basalt’s issues via email or phone is increasing, which includes some folks that are not connected in the social media sense,” he said. “Often we connect through an old-fashioned phone call.”

scondon@aspentimes.com

Basalt doesn’t expect health crisis to interfere with April 7 election; ballots mailed Monday

Basalt town government isn’t expecting disruptions of its April 7 election for mayor and three council seats despite the coronavirus pandemic, Town Clerk Pam Schilling said Friday.

The election will be by mail ballot only and there will not be a polling place. Even before the health crisis erupted, the town had scheduled to handle the election by mail.

Ballots will be mailed Monday. They must be returned no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day, but preferably earlier. There is a drop box on the north side of Town Hall or ballots can be mailed back, as long as they arrive on time.

“It is anticipated that the election will be held without interruption,” said a statement from the town.

Anyone who doesn’t receive a mail ballot or anyone with a general question about the election can call Pam Schilling at 970-279-4381 or email her at pams@basalt.net.

This election will be the first time Basalt has ever used instant runoff voting to determine the mayor. The process was implemented with the 2002 Home Rule Charter but it has never been used because there were never more than two candidates in mayoral races.

This time around, there are three mayor candidates: Bill Infante, Bill Kane and Rob Leavitt. Incumbent Jacque Whitsitt cannot run again because of term limits.

The ballot will allow voters to rank their preferences for mayor. If no candidate receives 50% plus one vote in the initial count, the candidate with the least number of votes will be eliminated. The second-choice preferences on the ballots for the eliminated candidate will be awarded to the two remaining candidates to determine a winner.

The council election will run as it has historically. There are six candidates vying for three seats in an at-large election. The three candidates that receive the most votes win the seats. All terms are for four years.

The council candidates are Glenn Drummond, Tiffany Haddad, Elyse Hottel, David Knight, Jennifer Riffle and Kirk “Dieter” Schindler.

Election judges will count the votes for council by machine, as they have been traditionally, Schilling said. The votes for mayor will be counted by hand since the instant runoff voting process is being used. She is hoping to release results by 11 p.m. on election night, though timing is a bit of an unknown due to the new process.

As things stand now, election night might lose some of the usual drama. Basalt Town Council declared a local disaster emergency Friday. One of the results was closing town government buildings to the public.

“The closure will be reassessed weekly but will likely stay in effect through the end of March,” the town said in a statement. “During this time, our staff will be available to assist you but by phone or email only.”

If the prohibition gets extended into April, candidates would be unable to hover around Town Hall on election night waiting for results.

Basalt’s emergency declaration affects town government functions in several other ways. Residents are encouraged to pay utility bills by phone or mail. The phone number for payments is 970-927-4701. The mailing address is 101 Midland Ave., Basalt, CO 81621.

All municipal court appearances are postponed until May 1. Any scheduled court payments that are due can be paid by phone or mail to the say number and address as above.

Required meetings by the council, planning and zoning commission and advisory boards will be held via teleconference and other electronic means.

Building inspections and building plan reviews will continue to be held. They can be scheduled by calling 970-927-4702, ext. 9.

All recreation programs are suspended or canceled until further notice. Town parks will remain open. Public restrooms will be closed.

As always, the police department can be contacted at 911 for emergencies and 970-927-4316 for non-emergencies. Officers will minimize contact with the public, particularly in the police station, while the coronavirus threat continues.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Basalt mayoral candidates address affordable housing

Editor’s note: The Aspen Times will run Q&A’s for the next several days with the candidates in Basalt’s April 7 election. Ballots were set to be mailed to voters today. There will be three days of Q&A with the mayor candidates followed by three days with the six candidates for three council seats.

Aspen Times: To add affordable housing to the inventory, should the town government grant density increases for development projects, seek a property tax increase dedicated to housing or use some other tool? Please be specific.

Bill Infante

Bill Infante: Basalt needs policies, laws and regulations that incentivize the private sector to add affordable housing. Policies promoting diversity, transit access and energy efficiency are key. Laws and regs need revision to upzone promoting core density, and rezone permitting accessory dwelling units. Increasing property taxes on existing homeowners is a “Band-Aid” solution that is inequitable and bad economics. My hunch: A tax increase would also be hugely unpopular, and unlikely to be approved by voters as required under TABOR. A much better idea is partnering with county, special districts and the private sector, which has no tax impact whatsoever, but yields a long-term housing solution. The best example is the Basalt Vista project. Pitkin County provided infrastructure and utility connections. Roaring Fork Schools (RE1) pledged land. Basalt amended the urban growth boundary, waived impact fees, and contributed $30,000 making the project net zero and delivering on an important energy objective. And, Habitat for Humanity provided cash and know-how. Soon, 27 deed-restricted homes will be completed, and 20 teachers and 27 police, firefighters and county staff will take up residence contributing powerfully to our town’s vitality. This is good policy, good thinking and the type of solution that Basalt needs.

Bill Kane

Bill Kane: I believe that we can create more affordable housing by harnessing the development and real estate industry without additional taxation. Density bonuses have been tried and have proved effective in Aspen and elsewhere. We can achieve incremental addition to our housing stock by building small- to medium-sized projects; we don’t need massive complexes. The Basalt Vista project at the high school is a great example of good sustainable design favorably priced and in a great location, which minimizes vehicle miles traveled. We should work hard to collaborate with Habitat and Eagle and Pitkin counties to create housing that is appropriate for our community. We can also do more with grants and work with the Colorado Division of housing. As mayor I would also investigate the potential for adding a full or part-time housing officer for the town to pursue these options.

Rob Leavitt
Michele Cardamone

Rob Leavitt: I strongly support providing attainable housing for essential employees of Basalt. As a member of Basalt Town Council, Planning and Zoning Commission, and the only candidate with children in Basalt schools, I have lobbied for housing for teachers, police, firefighters and essential town employees. Basalt Vista is a prime example of how the town can cooperate with outside organizations like Habitat for Humanity to provide affordable housing. I will not, however, support raising taxes to build housing for employees of Aspen shops and restaurants. I do not see why Basalt residents should subsidize housing for up valley employers who don’t want to pay a living wage. P&Z has been working on a new master plan for the past year and it encourages a variety of housing at multiple price points. While I will never support massive housing developments, there are select projects where increased densities make sense. Housing near mass transit and close to downtown are places where the town can use zoning powers and incentives to allow additional units. One of the great components of the new master plan is the list of incentives, like sustainability, child care, car and bike sharing, and public trails that would be required to increase those densities.

Basalt mayoral candidate: Time to up ‘cool factor’ in Basalt, ready to lead town

After many years of difficult local politics it is now Basalt’s time to shine. We have a bright future and can now focus on the progressive, enlightened and wonderful town that we want to be. We are a town of families, working parents, outdoors people, athletes, researchers, professionals, kids, skiers, fly-fishers and ardent protectors of the environment. We can now work together to improve the quality of life for us and future generations. It is time to up the cool factor in Basalt.

I believe that my 46 years of life in the Roaring Fork Valley, work experience and professional training make me a perfect fit to lead the town in coming years. I have served as a planning director for Aspen and Pitkin County, principal of Design Workshop, vice president of Aspen Skiing Co., and town manager for Basalt during the Great Recession. My campaign is grounded in practical solutions for the many challenges and opportunities before us. I have walked our neighborhoods and listened carefully. With the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and deterioration of economic conditions, it is now more critical than ever to elect a candidate who has track proven experience in managing municipal affairs under stress

The next decade will be an exciting time for Basalt and the midvalley. Projects on my list include:

Complete planning and construction of the River Park

Control growth and development with the adoption of a new Basalt comprehensive plan

Create a permanent home for the Art Base and TACAW

Fix up and improve vibrancy for downtown and Willits Center

Redevelop the vacant grocery store in Old Town

Set up a Basalt community forum to help resolve difficult community issues

Work with school district and board to enhance quality of education and after school activities

Embrace cultural diversity — set up a Latinx advisory council

Improve transit with ride-share program innovations to decrease traffic on Highway 82

Connect Old Town, Willits and South Side with a connector bus

Protect our fly-fishing heritage by managing our local stream flows

Work with Eagle County to control growth and development on the Highway 82 corridor

Follow through on environmental priorities to include town climate action plan

Build on our mountain biking image and work with CPW to investigate options for Basalt Mountain

Create an attractive environment for knowledge-based nonprofits and allow them to flourish

Revive River Days festival on the new River Park in downtown with major kids focus

Get a CMC campus building in Basalt

Let’s do the Basalt free lunch days again on Midland Avenue.

During my years as town manager from 2009 to 2012, we were able to get Willits out of foreclosure and attract Whole Foods with town-funded infrastructure. We also started the summer Sunday market which has added to our town’s vibrancy — more where that came from.

Basalt is essentially doomed to success; it will be our responsibility to determine what success looks like. I think we can be a sweet town that watches out for our kids, cares for our elders, controls growth and development with smart choices, protects our special natural environment and builds pride in living here. If elected it will be my honor to work with everyone to make Basalt the best it can be.

Editor’s note: Leading up to the Basalt election April 7, The Aspen Times is publishing one guest commentary from each candidate. Kane’s Facebook page is @billkaneformayor and he can be reached at billkaneformayor@gmail.com.

Democrats in Roaring Fork Valley prepare for precinct caucuses Saturday

Democrats in the Roaring Fork Valley are preparing to hold their precinct caucuses Saturday to take care of business not addressed in Tuesday’s presidential primary.

Democrats will support their choice for U.S. Senate, share ideas for the party platform and elect precinct committee people and delegates to their county party assembly. Any person registered as a Democrat on or before Feb. 14, 2020, and 18 years of age on or before Election Day on Nov. 3 can attend.

In the midvalley, Eagle County Democrats from precincts 7, 8, 24 and 25 will meet at the Basalt Library, 14 Midland Ave. The caucus will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. with check-in starting at 1:30 p.m.

In Pitkin County, all 10 precincts will meet at the Aspen High School Commons. Doors open at 1 p.m.

Basalt council candidates talk priorities, how to fund them

The candidates for Basalt Town Council easily defined at a forum Monday what projects they would pursue once in office, but identifying funding sources to complete them proved more difficult.

The candidates were asked what would be their immediate and long-term priorities if they were on council. Next they were asked what new sources of funding they would explore to fund those projects and the town’s future.

Glenn Drummond was the only candidate to suggest that a tax hike might be required to pursue the town’s wish list. For example, he said, if the town government decides to pursue a shuttle that connects the various sections of town, then it might have to seek a tax hike.

“When it comes to the connector shuttle, I think we all have to be honest with one another — maybe that needs to be put out to a vote to see if citizens want to do it,” Drummond said. “I know the chamber did a study on it in 2015 and the cost was $600,000 to $1 million (annually), so it’s not a small chunk of change and it’s going to take a new revenue stream.”

Other high priority projects also may require new revenue, he suggested.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t get them done. It just means we have to communicate this message appropriately to the community,” Drummond said.

The town has a general fund budget of $7.8 million for 2020. When restricted funds are added, the town’s total revenue is about $12 million. Drummond said seeing the Basalt River Park project completed on the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park property would be his immediate priority. The project will add about 56,000 square feet of commercial and residential development and allow expansion of a riverside park. The sitting council approved it last month.

As a long-term priority, Drummond said, “I think we have to create a sustainable environment and community where everybody in this room wants to live and be part of.”

Dieter Schindler said improving early-childhood care and development would be his immediate priority along with fostering redevelopment of the former Clark’s Market proposal in downtown as a long-term goal.

“If I was to just throw a dart and tell you how I would fund early-development child care, I think we would have to make it an affordable option for people to actually pay and run this as a business, but maybe we look at pre-existing locations where the rent ceiling isn’t so high and we can actually make it work,” Schindler said. “Maybe there’s churches or community centers that have vacant space so we could have a small space (for child care). I think that’s an example of just trying to get creative.”

Tiffany Haddad also said that child care would be her immediate priority and addition of affordable housing a long-term goal.

“For example, I would love for my children to be able to live here if they choose after they graduate high school or attend college,” she said. “As of right now, I don’t know that that would be feasible.”

As for funding, she would seek additional sources outside of town.

“I don’t think all funding necessarily has to come straight out of Basalt,” Haddad said. “We can also look at other avenues and resources in Pitkin and Eagle counties, to take advantage of program even across the state of Colorado to help fund locally what we’re trying to accomplish.”

David Knight identified the redevelopment of the Clark’s parcel among his immediate priorities “and we also have to keep our eye on the ball with climate change. That is existentially the most important thing that’s out there right now,” he said.

In the long-term, providing a youth center for kids that are older than elementary school but too young to be on their own is a priority for Knight.

He wants to raise funds for the town’s projects by nurturing a stronger economy.

“Helping to grow our economy would help to grow our tax base,” Knight said. “That’s a big part of it.”

Elyse Hottell said affordable housing would be her immediate concern in office.

“If we don’t have the housing we need to house the workers, that’s going to be a big hit to our economy,” she said.

Redevelopment of Clark’s is a long-term priority since it is in the heart of the town, she said.

“I think we have good revenue streams in place,” Hottell said. We have sales taxes that are earmarked for specific funds, there are tax credits available for affordable housing. There are methods out there that we haven’t completely tapped into. I’m not going to profess to know everything about those methods but a lot of research can be done.”

Jennifer Riffle, the only incumbent in the field, is traveling abroad and didn’t attend the forum. The election for three council seats is at-large, meaning the three candidates that get the most votes are the winners. The election is April 7. Ballots will be mailed in mid-March.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Former Eagle County commissioner announces run for Colorado state senate seat

Arn Menconi, who served two terms as an Eagle County commissioner and has spent 40 years in area businesses and nonprofits, announced Wednesday he is running for District 8 seat in the Colorado state Senate to challenge Carbondale Republican Bob Rankin.

Menconi, a Democrat, said he decided to run “after witnessing Bernie Sanders’ big success in the Colorado Primary, that over 93% of Coloradans support the Green New Deal, the urgent need for universal health care and that inequality is growing at faster and faster rates.”

He served as an Eagle County commissioner from 2001 to 2009, and in a news release announcing his campaign, Menconi said his history in the area and concerns for the climate, water issues and health care, among other issues, make him a solid challenger to Rankin.

“Senate District 8 represents much of the origins of the Colorado River. I would run for state Senate because I don’t want a climate-denier Republican like Bob Rankin representing one of the most coveted places on Earth,” Menconi said in his announcement. “I want to fight to help our future generations for a sustainable future not make is harder for them. I have been working in the mountain ranges of the mouth of the Colorado River for 30 years.”

District 8 represents Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties in the state Senate. No other Democrats have announced their intention to run for the seat. The Colorado primary is June 30.

Rankin, who held in the state House of Representatives District 57 seat from 2013 to 2019, was appointed to the senate seat in January 2019 after Randy Baumgardner retired before his term finished.