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Aspen Mayor Torre eases to second-term victory

Aspen Mayor Torre, left, waves at passing cars along Main Street with longtime friend Shane Smith while campaigning for Tuesday’s municipal election for another two-year term on March 2, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

First-term Aspen Mayor Torre sailed to re-election victory Tuesday with a sound disposal of his sole opponent, Lee Mulcahy, by a 2,039-177 margin, according to unofficial results from the City Clerk’s Office.

Now with two consecutive mayoral election wins under his belt, Mayor Torre said Tuesday his chief focus the next two years will be on reviving a town spirit mired in a funk since the pandemic hit in March 2020. The mayor’s seat comes with up to three two-year terms.

“My No. 1 goal is community connectivity,” he said. “I really want to see Aspen come together. I think there is somewhat of a divide in our community about what Aspen means, and the Aspen I moved to and the Aspen that drew me back was all about being a supportive and nurturing community. I want to make sure we are united as Aspenites.”

Torre — who also was elected to Aspen City Council in 2003 and 2009 — claimed his first mayoral term in an April 2019 runoff win over Councilwoman Ann Mullins by a final margin of 1,527 votes to 1,184 votes.

Like his mayoral predecessor in the May 2017 election, Steve Skadron, Torre had to withstand a challenge from a single candidate — Mulcahy. And he did, routing the government critic by capturing 92% of the vote.

While Torre’s win was all but a foregone conclusion, the mayor attended the campaign forums and stayed on the campaign trail. On Tuesday he was at his familiar Election Day post — the corner of Mill and Main streets by the Hotel Jerome — asking Aspenites for their vote.

While Torre heard honks and cheers from his supporters passing by the corner on Election Day, he also has been — simply by virtue of the seat he holds — a target of criticism by people upset with the public health orders stemming from the pandemic.

As mayor, Torre has sat on the Piktin County Board of Health, sometimes reluctantly going along with the body’s decisions in a show of unity. Concerns from the ailing business community must be addressed in the coming year, he said. Business casualties from the pandemic have included such longtime colorful establishments as The Red Onion.

“I want to figure out how to maintain character that Aspen has and always had,” he said, “and still retain some of that. We are losing some of those wonderful mom-and-pop, locally serving businesses. We need to see how we can maintain them.”

His other goal for the next term is to continue staying focused on environmental initiatives.

“I want to raise Aspen’s environmental profile,” he said. “There is still some work to do.”

As well, the mayor said the town’s complexion is changing with the urban exodus to resort locales like Aspen, which has created a greater demand on municipal services. There are also the issues that continue to face local government: housing, child care, traffic and transportation.

“Affordable housing and places for locals to live,” he said. “That’s always going to be important.”

Mulcahy, who had the campaign slogan “community boosts immunity,” was seeking the highest elected office within the very city he has mocked and criticized over the years. His main crusade has involved his battle with the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority over his employee-housing unit at the city-developed Burlingame Ranch subdivision. APCHA has long held Mulcahy didn’t work full time in Pitkin County, a requirement to own employee housing, and the courts have agreed.

Even so, Mulcahy continues to inhabit the property with his mother, Mama Sandy, despite APCHA’s purchase of the single-family home in December. Mulcahy continues to maintain APCHA did not give him due process before it took steps to force him to sell the home.

“Let’s be honest, he’s going to get re-elected and I want to be the first to congratulate him,” Mulcahy said at the Squirm Night candidate forum Feb. 18. “But I think we can see a way forward because all we are asking for is peace in this community.”

Mulcahy did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment Tuesday.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Aspen City Council election: Ward Hauenstein and John Doyle win seats, beat out 6 other candidates

Aspen businessman and city council candidate Mark Reece campaigns Tuesday with his daughter in downtown. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Aspen voters picked two longtime locals in Tuesday’s City Council election, voting for incumbent Ward Hauenstein and newcomer John Doyle — who combined have lived in Aspen for 84 years.

“I think there is a good indication in Aspen that people want to stay with the old guard,” said Hauenstein, who received the most votes with 1,036.

Doyle, a newcomer to politics although having lived here for 40 years, was a close second with 993 votes.

In a field of eight and with 4,343 votes cast (voters could pick up to two candidates), the pair beat the threshold of 45% plus one vote, which wound up being 979 votes.

Doyle said Tuesday night he was thinking there would be a runoff.

“I was prepared for that but not looking forward to it,” he said. “I was surprised by the gap between me and Kimbo, and frankly it just reaffirms what I felt from the beginning, which was I felt I had a pretty good level of support with long-term locals.”

Kimbo Brown-Schirato finished third with 693 votes. She was followed by Sam Rose (437 votes); Erin Smiddy (387); Mark Reece (364); Casey Endsley (327); and Jimbo Stockton (106).

Hauenstein, who has served for nearly four years, said he wants to continue the work he and council have been doing. That list includes finding the right balance for the number of units in the yet-to-be-built, city-developed Lumberyard affordable-housing site at the Aspen Business Center near the airport.

“Everything has to be analyzed entirely before decisions are made,” he said Tuesday. “I want density that gives residents there a quality of life and that we can honor them with good housing. We don’t want so much density that people can’t have a quiet enjoyment of life.”

The 69-year-old Hauenstein said he also wants council to reconsider the decision-making authority of the citizen-appointed Historic Preservation Commission, as well as pursue more public-private partnerships for workforce housing.

Doyle, 60, said his top priorities are updating the Aspen Area Community Plan, which is the city’s guiding principles document for the next decade, and focusing on the battle against climate change.

He added that his first priority is “trying to bond with the other council members, and I want to continue in the direction we’re going.”

Doyle is joining Mayor Torre, who easily secured a second two-year term in Tuesday’s election, as well as Councilmembers Rachel Richards and Skippy Mesirow. Those two were elected in 2019 and are in the midway point of their terms.

The other seat is being vacated by Ann Mullins, who is term limited after serving two four-year terms.

City Clerk Nicole Henning said as of Monday there were 6,119 registered voters in Aspen and on Tuesday, 2,343 (38.3%) of them turned in a ballot by 7 p.m. She said the votes would be certified by Friday.

The Aspen municipal election date was changed by a vote in November 2018, moving it from May to March.

Before the move out of the offseason, voter turnout in the May 2017 city election was 38%, with 2,413 out of 6,400 voters showing up to the polls. In March 2019, there were 3,243 votes cast, a 20% increase over the 2017 election. The turnout in 2019 was 53.2% of the 6,095 registered voters.

Local Jon Busch drops his ballot for the municipal election outside of City Hall in Aspen on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Election Day is Tuesday in Aspen

Ballots will be counted Tuesday evening for the city of Aspen municipal election.

Voters are being asked to select a mayor and two council members.

Mayor Torre is being challenged by Lee Mulcahy for the two-year term.

Eight candidates are vying for two open seats on council, including incumbent Ward Hauenstein who is seeking a second and final four-year term.

The other candidates are John Doyle, Sam Rose, Erin Smiddy, Casey Endsley, Mark Reece, Kimbo Brown-Schirato and Jimbo Stockton.

The other seat is being vacated by Ann Mullins, who is term limited after serving two, four-year terms.

Ballots are being accepted until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Ballots should be dropped of in front of City Hall on Galena Street. In-person voting is allowed inside City Hall, although COVID-19 protocols are in place.

If persons want to register to vote, call the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s office at (970) 429-2710.

Over 1,450 ballots had been submitted as of Monday afternoon, according to City Clerk Nicole Henning.

There are 6,119 registered voters in Aspen.

City Council candidates must earn 45%, plus one, of the vote to win a seat, per the city’s home rule charter. For the mayor, it is 50%, plus one.

It’s likely that one council candidate will meet that threshold, but a second one getting that many votes given the crowded field is unlikely, according to city officials.

If that’s the case, there will be a runoff election between the top two vote-getters. That election would occur April 6.

 

Mayor, council members to be elected in Aspen on Tuesday

Election judges verify signatures on ballots in the basement of City Hall on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Aspen residents have just over a day left to cast their votes for mayor and two City Council members.

Election Day for the city of Aspen municipal election is Tuesday, and ballots will be accepted until 7 p.m.

There is a drop box located in front of City Hall on Galena Street where ballots can be dropped. Voting in person in City Hall is available on a limited basis and COVID-19 protocols will be followed. In-person voting is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and again from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m on Election Day.

Anyone with questions or needs a new ballot can email the City Clerk’s Office at elections@cityofaspen.com.

Residents who are not registered to vote can do so up until Election Day. On Election Day, the Pitkin County Clerk’s Office will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to handle last-minute voter registrations. More information is available on the county’s website.

There are currently just over 6,100 registered voters in Aspen.

City Clerk Nicole Henning said Friday afternoon that her office has received over 1,000 ballots thus far.

There are eight candidates vying for two seats open on council, which are each four-year terms.

Incumbent Ward Hauenstein is attempting to retain his seat.

Aspen Mayor Torre is defending his seat against challenger Lee Mulcahy.

The second seat open on council is currently occupied by Councilwoman Ann Mullins, who is serving her second and final term, due to term limits.

City Council candidates must earn 45%, plus one, of the vote to win a seat, per the city’s home rule charter. For the mayor, it is 50%, plus one.

It’s likely that one council candidate will meet that threshold, but a second one getting that many votes given the crowded field is unlikely, according to city officials.

If that’s the case, there will be a runoff election between the top two vote-getters. That election would occur April 6.

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

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.

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 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.