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Aspen Times editorial: Aspen Times joins ’right to be forgotten’ movement when it comes to crime reporting, old and new

Aspen is a town where people can let their hair down when they come for vacation and locals can get a little too rowdy. Those times occasionally can lead to bad decisions, unintended consequences and perhaps a run-in with our local law enforcement.

And the internet never forgets. That maxim is too often reinforced in our newsroom each time someone emails or calls with an appeal to have a name removed or a mugshot pulled from an old story that continues to follow them around as they try to move on with their lives.

For the past few months, editors and others with Swift Communications, which owns The Aspen Times and Colorado Mountain News Media, have been having high-level discussions as a media group about the “right to be forgotten” — a movement that started in Europe and has begun to gain traction in newsrooms across the United States.

The focus of our discussions has centered on this question: How long should you be penalized for minor crimes you committed years ago?

Basically, should you have the right to be forgotten by Google when those old stories are blocking you from landing jobs? How long should you have to pay for an old mistake?

For editors who take very seriously the role of leading the papers of record in each market, it goes against instinct to go back and rewrite that record. We’re in the business of getting it right and standing by the reporting we do. Reporting on crime, especially violent crimes and sexual assaults and rapes, is also one of the core tenets of community journalism.

That said, we can’t ignore this truth: While we live in the day-to-day world of reporting on our communities, one story deemed worthy for that day’s paper lives on in perpetuity for the charged and/or convicted long after that person has paid their debt to society.

So, we have launched a process across Colorado Mountain News Media’s chain of papers in which people can request to have their names removed from old stories. And we’re leaning on a model that has been established at other news organizations for making those decisions.

That process starts with the admission that, as journalists, we’re not in the position to judge who gets clemency and who doesn’t. That’s why we will rely on the courts and the legal process that people use to clear their records: expungement.

People who have committed nonviolent crimes and successfully petition the courts to permanently delete records of their criminal cases will be able to send us an online request. After filling out a form we’ve created, along with proof of the expungement, we will, in many cases, remove names and photos from stories on our websites.

Who doesn’t get clemency? For starters, elected officials and other notable community leaders or public figures.

The emphasis with this policy is on victimless crimes. We won’t be removing names from stories about violent crimes or sex crimes or major felony cases that drew considerable community interest. It’s also not a black-or-white policy, and there may be other reasons that the editor in a specific market decides to preserve a story, despite an appeal from someone who’s had their record expunged. We still reserve the right to publish or not publish.

Only in rare situations will we remove a story; our goal is to amend the story and remove names or identifying information when appropriate. We will recast the story and include an “editor’s note” that the story was amended and why.

To go along with this new initiative, we’re also having a company-wide conversation about best practices for crime reporting going forward, which includes limiting use of mug shots to high-profile cases and eliminating the arbitrary nature of just scouring the courts and arrest logs for something that can fill a news hole.

We have been using that principle the past few months at The Aspen Times as we re-examine our role, and we will continue to focus our crime reporting on arrests in serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder, drug distribution, armed robbery, rape, kidnapping or crimes involving a high-profile person.

Going forward, we will also only commit reporting resources to following a case through to its disposition if the accused’s name is published.

As we launch this initiative, we know we will run into questions that we don’t have answers to right away. There will be cases that will certainly test the spirit of this new policy and will spark conversations in our newsroom. We don’t know exactly what to expect.

But we are committed to changing the status quo and taking a more humane, logical approach to how we cover crime and how we assess requests to rewrite the record.

To submit a request to have your name and/or photo removed from a story, please go to https://www.aspentimes.com/submit-a-request-to-update-a-crime-story. It also can be found at the bottom of our home page aspentimes.com under the Reader Tools sections. You can begin the process of expungement by finding information and the necessary forms at: https://www.courts.state.co.us.

Roses & Thorns (March 26, 2021): Cheers to our student-athlete Skiers; jeers to the college kid trying to be a skier

A couple of dozen roses go to our Aspen High students who represented well and again won state championships in boys and girls skiing, which combines Nordic and alpine scores. No pressure when your school nickname is the Skiers. Roses also to to freshman Chase Kelly who won the boys individual alpine title. And props to the girls swim team, who had to wait out the Denver storm earlier this month and with titles in the 200-medley relay — Kayla Tehrani, Lilly Huggard, Emily Kinney and Bennett Jones —and Tehrani, who won the 3A state championship in the 100 butterfly.

Thorns to Basalt town government for not having the Basalt River Park project shovel-ready much earlier this winter. A development firm closed on the purchase of the property west of downtown Basalt in mid-November, and the town simultaneously closed on 1 acre to add to the riverside park. The town should have had a request for bids package ready the next day. Instead, here we are four months later still waiting to depart the starting gate. This winter was so mild that a substantial amount of the park grading could have been accomplished as well as substantial infrastructure work.

Roses to the 200-plus volunteers who for the past year have helped Aspen Family Connections and Food Bank of the Rockies with their weekly mobile food distribution to those struggling because of the pandemic. Every week, without fail, volunteers and the AFC crew have distributed food from the parking lots of Aspen public schools, Buttermilk Ski Area, Aspen Chapel and the Aspen Golf Course. Last week they passed the 10,500-mark of households served since the pandemic hit. That’s just outstanding. Roses to all who have helped in this cause.

Roses to the good people of Emma for working through a problem, painful as it was. Neighbors got up in arms, while holding their noses, over a hemp field along Emma Road in a rural area with a good number of homes. They took their beef to the Pitkin County commissioners, which set new review criteria for hemp cultivation. Meanwhile, the grower with the field in question voluntarily offered to avoid planting this year, restoring the peace. Now that we think of it, maybe a few thorns as well for all involved for not working through the issues earlier. The episode creates a sinking feeling that as property values soar and aging Emma residents cash out, we’re going to see the area gentrified. The next complaint to the county will be over the odor created by cows and horses.

Thorn to the out-of-control college “skier” who took out one of our staffers during a recent NCAA Tournament Saturday at Snowmass. Why is that important? Dude was wearing a Duke basketball jersey as his skiing attire. The Dukie went full yard sale underneath the Big Burn lift, and luckily, no one was hurt. Our suggestion to him and his buddy in the Auburn windbreaker: Get off the Burn and go back to Fanny Hill and work on your form.

A rose to Francie Jacober for hitting the ground running this year as a rookie Pitkin County commissioner. Newly elected officials typically look like a deer in the headlights and take a year or more to contribute to public discourse in a meaningful way. Jacober hasn’t appeared rattled by her new responsibilities and brings insights to the meetings.

Have a rose or a thorn? Send them to letters@aspentimes.com with the subject line as: Roses & Thorns.

Aspen Times editorial: Future of midvalley parcel near park, river worthy of public’s attention

A process is quietly unfolding in the midvalley that residents need to be aware of and be prepared to join later this year to help determine how some vital public lands get used.

Eagle County and the U.S. Forest Service have started holding “listening sessions” to discuss the future uses of 70 acres of national forest land and 6 acres of county-owned land adjacent to Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel.

Some of this property is as important to midvalley residents who love the outdoors as Smuggler Mountain is to Aspen residents. The property includes a bench of 40 acres along the Roaring Fork River that provides hiking, access for anglers, wildlife habitat and glimpses of a rare orchid known as Ute Lady’s Tresses.

In short, the property is an oasis in a rapidly growing midvalley.

Forest Service officials have vowed the lower bench will not be developed. Another 30 acres strung along Valley Road is considered “developable” by the agency.

So far, the discussion has been limited to people who were invited to participate — neighbors, community leaders, agencies and “potential partners,” according to a February news release from Eagle County. To its credit, the county also allowed other people to join the discussion when they asked.

Once the current sessions are concluded, a report will be submitted to the county staff and ultimately the county commissioners about the opportunities and challenges associated with the properties.

Eagle County and the Forest Service officials vow there will be “numerous opportunities for public review and input.” The Forest Service anticipates releasing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement in late summer or early fall on its proposal to sell or lease its 70 acres. That process legally requires public comment. In a separate process, the county says it will hold public meetings.

These processes have a way of slipping under the public radar. People leading their busy lives typically don’t have time to figure out when or how to jump into processes that are alien to them and continue for an extended time.

There is little doubt that people care about the property. Crown Mountain Park receives hundreds of thousands of visits annually — ranging from participants in organized sports to people walking their dogs.

We’re a bit wary about a report being produced for the county commissioners from the current sessions with limited public participation. We would hate to see a process where input by the public-at-large is overshadowed by the opinions of a limited number of stakeholders.

This is public land. Everyone is a stakeholder.

For the interested public, we would say stay tuned and watch for more information about the process. The future of this important piece of public land has to be shaped by a robust community conversation.

The Aspen Times editorial board is comprised of publisher Samantha Johnston, editor David Krause, reporters Rick Carroll, Scott Condon and Carolyn Sackariason and copy editor/columnist Sean Beckwith.

Aspen Times endorsement: Voters should consider Doyle, Hauenstein for council; Torre best mayoral candidate

In only the second municipal election since voters approved moving election day from May to March, candidate participation doesn’t seem to be an issue. With eight candidates vying for two seats in a year of turmoil with no clear end in sight, we commend the field for their commitment to community at a time when it might be easier to just sit out this race.

We endorse newcomer John Doyle and incumbent Ward Hauenstein for Aspen City Council.

The Aspen Times editorial board invited all the council candidates to participate in a Q&A with the board. Doyle, Hauenstein, Sam Rose, Kimbo Brown-Schirato and Erin Smiddy responded.

As someone who has worked across the spectrum in the community as a 40-year resident, Doyle is jumping into public service. During the 2019 election, he came out to campaign against the Lift One commercial development, and of late has voiced concern over the proposed expansion on Aspen Mountain. He is confident in his point of view and has brought thoughtful ideas and reasoning to the table.

Doyle has the unequivocal voice of the locals who live here for skiing and want to protect the outdoors, temper growth and secure housing for workers. He cares about the environment, holds climate change as a strong position in his campaign and has bold ideas for housing (building inside the roundabout).

We think Hauenstein has done a fine job and the job that we elected him to do. We do want to see the incumbent have that energy and enthusiasm to carry our community out of crisis and toward a bright future.

While we commend Hauenstein for being the first in advocating for a new chairlift that comes down to Dean Street, we were disappointed that he voted for the city’s $4.36 million contribution to the Lift One development at the base of Aspen Mountain’s west side. Developers were able to take advantage of the city’s land use code, which incentivizes small lodges by reducing affordable housing mitigation. The project, which involves over 300,000 square feet of commercial development, is inconsistent with the Aspen Area Community Plan when it comes to growth and employee mitigation. We need council members who are willing to say “no” to developers until their projects check off all the boxes for community benefit.

We are left scratching our heads by Hauenstein’s recent decision to OK the $600,000 Jail Trail regrade without the changes meeting ADA regulations and his repeated approvals of public funds for consultant fees.

But of the candidates, Hauenstein is the only one who has been pushing through at all the meetings the past four years and puts in time outside of those duties to represent the city. He takes time to listen and consider viewpoints before he makes his vote. Hauenstein comes to meetings prepared, asks good questions and can navigate through the nuances of council minutiae.

He also had been instrumental in the city’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, was part of the council who brought in a new city manager, pushed for the tobacco tax and was on the council that passed the tobacco ordinances (vaping).

We also strongly considered Rose, who has a fresh perspective as a newcomer to Aspen, moving here in 2019, but he has jumped into the community. He is the lead contact tracer for Pitkin County’s public health department, has become a volunteer firefighter and is an advocate for the nonprofit Response, which helps victims of domestic violence.

Being new to Aspen and politics can put anyone at a deficit by not knowing all the connections. We’ve already seen Rose’s intentions are the best, but he’d be in an arena he still doesn’t know yet being new to the community.

To win one of the two seats candidates have to have 45% of the vote plus one. With eight candidates, there is a strong probability of a runoff (which would be April 6).

We would like to see all eight of the candidates continue their desire to help the community. We hope to see all of them serving on boards or committees and really rolling up their sleeves and digging in during the coming year. It is impressive to have a field with a number of young candidates and a variety of residents.

In the mayoral race, there’s no question that the incumbent Torre is the best choice for the next two years. His challenger, Lee Mulcahy, appears to be using this race as a platform to draw more attention to his personal housing fight and we have no confidence in his desire to put his politics aside and work hard for the city of Aspen. In last Thursday’s Squirm Night, he conceded the race to Torre.

The next four years in Aspen will be about getting past the pandemic, making big strides in the housing crisis and balancing growth. We feel John Doyle, Ward Hauenstein and Torre are the best candidates to work for our community.

The Aspen Times editorial board is comprised of publisher Samantha Johnston, editor David Krause, reporters Rick Carroll, Scott Condon and Carolyn Sackariason and copy editor/columnist Sean Beckwith.

Aspen Times editorial: Get off your apathy and get ready to vote, Aspen electorate

Even the most informed Aspen resident would be hard-pressed to know an election is happening, the results of which will chart the path of how this resort community moves forward for the next four years.

Yes, another election is upon us. It seems like just yesterday we were filling out our ballots for the November election, and some of us are still debating the results.

But now we must focus on the March 2 municipal election, where eight people are vying for two open seats on Aspen City Council and Mayor Torre is defending his two-year term against one challenger.

It’s been a quiet campaign thus far, partly due to the pandemic and local public health orders forbidding in-person interaction that is typical in stumping for political office.

Another reason is seven of the council candidates are newcomers to local politics, have never run for office, and therefore have never campaigned.

When Aspen voters decided in a landslide election in fall 2018 to change the date of municipal elections from May to March, they hoped for more voter participation.

The Aspen Times endorsed the move, supporting the argument that there are more people in town during high season than in the offseason.

An unintended consequence, however, is the seemingly shorter campaign window, even though the time frame of picking up a nominating petition and submitting it to the city clerk didn’t change.

It’s just that it pushed the campaign season forward two months and therefore smack dab into the holiday season and beginning of the year. Now campaigning feels rushed.

Without a pandemic, or maybe with it, January, February and March are busy months for locals who are scrambling to make a buck while the chairlifts are spinning.

As a result, it’s difficult for candidates to have enough bandwidth to effectively get their messages out, on top of the challenges COVID-19 has brought.

At least when the election was in May, candidates and their constituents had more breathing room to get to know the issues during a slower time of the year.

We hope that the 2019 voter turnout was indicative of the desired result of moving the election. There was a controversial ballot measure that contributed to over a 50% turnout.

With voters deciding whether to allow developers to build 320,000 square feet of commercial development at the base of Aspen Mountain’s west side, along with two council members and a mayor, it was a high-turnout election for a city that struggles with voter participation.

In 2019, 3,243 out of 6,095 registered voters showed up to the polls, or 53% of the electorate.

Voter turnout in the 2017 city election was 38%, with 2,413 out of 6,400 voters showing up to the polls.

This year’s election turnout may be difficult to gauge because of the pandemic, which is creating all kinds of unprecedented phenomenons. But in theory, everyone is in town and should be more engaged in local issues because of the COVID-19 crisis.

The fact that eight people are running shoots down former Aspen mayor Steve Skadron’s theory that fewer qualified candidates would seek office because of campaigning during the high season.

We do agree with his 2018 prediction that candidates will not get as vetted by the citizenry as they would when things are slower in the offseason.

For this election, it lands squarely on voters to educate themselves on who these would-be public servants are and what their platforms are all about.

That’s especially true for the 2,409 Aspenites who voted in 2018 to change the election to March. It’s time to put your knowledge where your vote was and get educated.

We acknowledge there is voter and pandemic fatigue, and general apathy. But the people who get elected this go-around are going to lead this community through the rest of the pandemic and the fallout that ensues, both economically and physically. So it’s incumbent on us to get the most qualified people seated on council to weather the storm.

Voters can find information on candidates’ social media channels and websites, which can be found in the accompanying information box.

Additionally, The Aspen Times will publish questions and answers from the candidates the weeks of Feb. 8 and Feb. 15. The Times and the Aspen Daily News along with GrassRootsTV will co-host the traditional Squirm Night debate on the Zoom platform Feb. 18.

Also look for candidates’ guest columns explaining their platforms in The Times in the coming weeks. We’ve run a few already, and we’ll have our opinion and endorsement after our Squirm event.

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association plans to interview the candidates via Zoom and record those sessions to be posted to its website and social media channels.

Ballots will be mailed Feb. 8 and early voting begins Feb. 12. New this year is a ballot drop box in front of City Hall on Galena Street.

If you don’t exercise your democratic right, you have no right to complain, so look for your ballot in the mail, learn about the people who want to serve you and check the appropriate box before Election Day ends March 2.

CANDIDATE RESOURCES

ASPEN CITY COUNCIL

Erin Smiddy

Email: esmiddy1@hotmail.com

Phone: (970) 319-9865

John Doyle

Website: Johndoyleaspencouncil.com

Instagram:@doylecarves

Email: Johndoylesculpture@gmail.com

Sam Rose

Facebook: SamRoseforAspenCityCouncil

Phone: (802) 752-7026

Email: SamuelRose30@gmail.com

Kimbo Brown-Schirato

Website: www.kimboforaspen.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kimboforaspen

Instagram: @kimboforaspen

Email: kimbrobrown@gmail.com

Casey Endsley

Website: http://www.caseyforaspen.com/

Facebook: Casey Endsley for Aspen City Council

Email: wrenchface@gmail.com

Mark Reece

Website: www.markreeceforaspen.com

Facebook: Mark Reece for Aspen City Council

Email: Mark@MarkReeceforAspen.com

Jimbo Stockton

Facebook: Jimbo Stockton for your Aspen City Council

Instagram: @skijimbo

Email: skijimbo@icloud.com

Ward Hauenstein

Website: wardforaspen.com

Email: ward.hauenstein@gmail.com (Email to set up a group or individual Zoom meeting)

Phone: (970) 948-3858

ASPEN MAYOR

Torre

Website: www.TorreforMayor.com

Facebook: AspenTorre

Instagram: @AspenTorre

Phone: (970) 948-2023

Lee Mulcahy

Websites: leemulcahy.us and leemulcahy.com

Facebook: Tea Party of Aspen

Twitter: @artistinaspen

Email: Leemulcahyphd@gmail.com

VOTER INFORMATION

GOVERNMENT RESOURCES

To register to vote: www.pitkinvotes.com

Colorado Secretary of State: https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/vote/VoterHome.html

Details on city of Aspen election: https://www.cityofaspen.com/1335/2021-Election

VOTER PARTICIPATION

Number of registered voters in Aspen:

2021 – 6,119

2019 – 6,095

2017 – 6,445

2015 – 6,238

2013 – 6,401

2011 – 5,955

Aspen voter turnout:

2019 – 3,243; 53%

2017 – 2,413; 37%

2015 – 2,542; 41%

2013 – 2,288; 36%

2011 – 1,794; 30%

The Aspen Times editorial board is comprised of publisher Samantha Johnston, editor David Krause, reporters Rick Carroll, Scott Condon and Carolyn Sackariason and copy editor/columnist Sean Beckwith.

Aspen Times endorsement: Vote yes for Aspen schools

Voters in Pitkin County have a strong history of approving local funding questions that benefit schools, and we’re asking them to support the education-related questions before them in this fall’s election.

Publicity surrounding Aspen public schools over the past seven months has mainly concerned the COVID-19 pandemic and how the district will continue to educate its approximately 1,800 students across the elementary, middle and high schools, as well as the K-8 Aspen Community School in Woody Creek.

On Tuesday, the schools opened to in-person learning, albeit in hybrid modes for the middle and high schools, making it the first time the K-12 schools all had been open at the same time since the pandemic struck in March.

That marked a major step toward fully reopening classes to live learning, but for nearly two years the district also has been working on a master facilities plan that emphasizes more housing for teachers and staff, as well as capital improvements.

The work has culminated in the form of Issue 4A, a question asking voters in the Aspen School District — which encompasses Aspen, Snowmass Village and such unincorporated towns as Woody Creek and Old Snowmass — to approve a $94.3 million bond proposal.

Among the improvements school leaders have pledged through the bond:

• Teacher housing is the biggest component. The district has struggled in recent years to retain teachers because of the cost of living here, the lack of housing and their pay hasn’t been sufficient for them to afford anything on the free market.

Bond money cannot go toward employee compensation, but it can help fund the purchase and/or construction of roughly 50 housing units within the district for teachers. Other funding would go toward the maintenance of the district’s existing 43 housing units it rents to staff.

• Relocating The Cottage Preschool, which currently is near the high school, to the bus barn location. In turn, a new bus barn would be built on a location that has yet to be determined. The bond proposal also includes the district’s purchasing of electric buses and vehicles.

• An upgrade to Aspen District Theatre, an on-campus venue used by both students and public organizations. Improvements include a new lobby, box office and concession space, as well as improvements to the performing arts spaces, restrooms, dressing rooms, the theater system and other elements.

• Improved energy efficiency and the upgrade/replacement of the elementary school elevator; security improvements to the entrances and lobbies of school buildings; upgrades to the schools’ classrooms and libraries and the high school’s science labs; and the addition of a climbing wall to the middle school.

The school district has made strides with building new housing, including the construction of the 10-unit townhome project in Woody Creek funded with the $12 million in bonds voters approved in 2008. However, school officials have admitted that the $33 million in facility upgrades — which were part of the campaign for the passage of the 2005 bond proposal — didn’t come to complete fruition because of cost overrun. Those unaddressed upgrades also are part of the newest bond proposal.

The current administration, a relatively new one at that, is well removed from those who ran the district in 2005 — that includes superintendent, assistant superintendent and chief financial officer. Its efforts in the pandemic have demonstrated district leadership’s openness to community collaboration and compromise, and that follow-through is of upmost importance.

Bond advocates maintain that the district community will be consistently updated on the bond money’s allocation if 4A is approved. For sure, accountability and transparency are crucial when it comes to the spending of public dollars — and we are confident that the current administration and board realize this and will follow through. Yet we also urge residents to hold district leaders accountable by keeping the community apprised of how the bonds are spent.

If the bonds are approved, the district can issue the new $94 million in bonds without an increase to taxpayers. That’s because the bonds the district received in 2001 mature this year, and the new bonds would roll into the one with the same tax structure. Approval of the bonds also results in ASD being committed to a maximum repayment of $161.9 million, according to officials.

Voters in Aspen and Snowmass Village also will be asked to extend their respective taxes that support the ASD.

The Snowmass electorate will see Issue 2A on their ballots, which it approved in 2016 and has provided $510,000 to the ASD. With voter approval, the property tax would extend the mill levy, which sunsets at the end of 2020, through 2026. We urge Snowmass voters to vote “yes” to keep in place the mil levy.

Issue 2A is before Aspen voters and asks them to extend a 0.3% sales tax that generates $1.5 million annually for the ASD.

The Aspen Times joins the chorus of other groups and individuals who support these tax questions put before voters.

Aspen public schools, like those in the rest of Colorado, continue to face more state budget cuts. Fortunately, the ASD has been able to rely on the financial support of the Aspen Education Foundation, as well as the community at the polls.

The passage of these questions will continue to help the Aspen School District remain on solid financial footing, as well as give our children the facilities they deserve to learn in, and the much-needed housing to recruit and retain teachers.

That starts with voter support for issues 4A, 2A and 2B.

The Aspen Times editorial board is comprised of publisher Samantha Johnston, editor David Krause, reporters Rick Carroll, Scott Condon and Carolyn Sackariason and copy editor/columnist Sean Beckwith.

Endorsement: Snowmass voters should put support behind Goode, Shenk and Fridstein

With public and private development that is in the works and will touch every corner of our village and a housing shortage that is growing worse with each season, Snowmass Village residents are going to the ballot box having to make decisions for three seats at the village’s council table.

For the first time since 2016, residents will have to pick those who will represent them for the next two (mayor) and four (council) years, and we are putting our support behind Tom Goode as mayor and Alyssa Shenk and Tom Fridstein to fill the two council seats.

Let’s start with the easy choice. As most every full-time resident knows, Shenk is out representing the village in her role as a councilwoman but also as a well-engaged citizen. In her past six years on the council (she was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2014 and won the seat in the 2016 election), Shenk has worked tirelessly to understand all the issues at the table and comes prepared for each meeting.

She is known to ask pointed and thoughtful questions, whether it be on development or approving the village’s first marijuana dispensary. She is out at nearly every event in the village and volunteers when help is needed.

And given the makeup of the current board as well as the other candidates, she would represent the only female voice we know every elected board should have. She has children in the local schools and has the perspective of raising a young family in the village.

Of the other four candidates, we appreciate the background that Fridstein brings to the community and to the council table. As a visitor since before the village was incorporated and now a full-time resident, Fridstein has a deep connection to the area.

Additionally, his experience on the village’s Planning Commission and helping develop the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, as well as nearly 50 years as an architect, will bring invaluable perspective as the village works through a number of development issues in the coming years.

At the table are the plans for the Town Center remake, the Town Park redesign, the new Transit Center at the Snowmass Mall and the review of the next buildings at the expanding Base Village area.

But he also can give a unique look into the building of employee housing as well as the much-needed expansion of the Little Red School House.

Fridstein says he can give that perspective “to achieve maximum value for our community without disrupting our unique village.”

The decision for mayor is a tough one because on the ballot are two candidates who have served and been a part of the community for decades and most recently as town councilmen. Goode and Bill Madsen are about as good of candidates for the role as any we’ve had.

We like the way Goode has a direct approach to getting things done and knows when the time for consensus building and listening to all sides needs to be finished and a decision made. Consensus building is always the right approach, but at some point, the leader of the pack has to be willing to say, “here’s what I think the right thing to do is.” We see that more in Goode’s approach.

It is the mayor’s role to lead effective and productive meetings that guides council to make decisions and get things done. We feel Goode can be that leader, and we challenge him to do that.

We agree with Madsen’s belief that tourism is the most important thing for Snowmass, and he’s right that if you want it to be less sleepy, you have to have more visiting recreationists. But Goode’s right that a key piece of the economy will be more people living here (and helped with more rental units in affordable housing), spending time and money here and making the village more of a town.

An outdoor mecca is great and important, but without the “town” vibe and a vibrant shopping and dining scene (to Goode’s point), you’ll still end up with visitors who come to Snowmass for lodging and skiing, but go to Aspen for the rest. The problem won’t be solved without a focus on affordable housing and building community (nobody decides to come to Snowmass because they hear the entrance is great).

As well, Goode’s background in the construction world will be beneficial as the village continues to work on growth and housing challenges.

Of note, If Madsen wins, then the council will determine who gets that role (Goode has not said if he would apply for the opening). If Goode wins, Madsen returns to council to finish out the two years on his term.

Snowmass has a lot to build upon in the coming years, and we feel Alyssa Shenk, Tom Fridstein and Tom Goode will help the village approach these changes with thoughtful and experienced decision-making.

The Aspen Times/Snowmass Sun editorial board is comprised of publisher Samantha Johnston, editor David Krause, reporters Scott Condon, Rick Carroll and Carolyn Sackariason and copy editor/columnist Sean Beckwith. Mr. Carroll was not a part of this decision and endorsement as a member of his family is working on the Shenk campaign.

Aspen Times Endorsement: Council, Jacober are the best commissioner candidates to help lead county

Pitkin County voters have a lot at stake in this year’s Board of County Commissioners election. With the unknowns of how COVID-19 will impact our health and economy in 2021, a critical airport infrastructure decision looming, a growing affordable housing crisis and mounting challenges to recruiting and maintaining a sustainable workforce, now is the time to elect leaders who will challenge the status quo, have a clear vision for collaboration and aren’t afraid to make tough decisions and communicate them transparently.

We believe Chris Council (District 4) and Francie Jacober (District 5) will bring the best capabilities, confidence, community interest and collaboration to the table for the next four years.

In the District 4 race, two-term incumbent Steve Child has provided an important perspective on the board and we appreciate his ranching background and responsible approach to land management and growth, but we feel that the county’s response to the pandemic has been mediocre and communication nearly non-existent. Council will roll up his sleeves and put in the work and isn’t afraid to put his solutions and ideas on the table. We know Child is a decent man with a solid reputation of having the community’s best interest in mind; we just think that Council has the energy, passion and drive to make things happen when the rubber meets the road.

Council is showing to be diplomatic yet extremely candid and would be a big asset related to communication among stakeholders regarding the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, the airport, growth and roads. As one candidate told our editorial board, “these are all things that have floated along for a few years and now are rising to the top of the water.” Throw in fighting a pandemic and that is an agenda that would challenge the best of boards.

As a self-described policy wonk with a background in finance, Council seems to listen well, does his homework and is well-versed on the nuances of the issues. His solutions-based approaches are refreshing and he has the energy and commitment to drive conversation and change at the county level.

His time serving on the APCHA board and living in employee housing has given him insight into one of Pitkin County’s most emergent problems that Child doesn’t possess. We think Council will move with confidence and purpose when it comes to improving that agency.

Child comes from a well-loved family of ranchers and has the respect of many but he has been on the board for eight years. While Child is eligible to be re-elected for a third term, we think his complacent approach to campaigning and satisfaction with how the county has handled its COVID response are reasons to elect change and Council.

In the race for District 5, which covers the downvalley and Crystal River Valley section of Pitkin County, we feel Jacober is the more approachable and relatable candidate for those whom she will represent.

It’s hard to see her challenger, Jeffrey Evans, as someone wishing to collaborate. Jacober seems more community-minded. She’s a retired teacher who wants to continue public service as a commissioner and has a genuine interest in helping others. On the other side, we get the feeling Evans wants to be paid a government salary to criticize the government. We support citizens criticizing government when it’s warranted, but we aren’t fans of electing a commissioner who already seems to have a personal agenda that isn’t necessarily in the best interest of our county.

For the record, the three commissioner seats up for election will receive an annual salary of $88,479 and benefits, according to the county.

Jacober shows she cares about the disenfranchised and underrepresented, specifically the Latino population, which should be better recognized for their contributions to the valley and its economy. She has a vision for creating a safer culture for that population and providing the support that makes them feel like valued members of our community. We think this is an important role for our county government and we support her idea that we ought to represent them better.

Evans has raised some intriguing issues, especially his idea that the county should buy 50,000 masks of the N95 variety so residents and workers can protect others but also protect themselves from the visitors. It’s an idea that should be pursued by our local governments. But his good ideas likely will be lost in his pursuit of a years-long platform to fix the entrance to Aspen, which he said he believes to be his biggest priority as commissioner. The entrance to Aspen has been a six-decade issue and there is no political will by the majority of elected officials in the city or county to address it with all of the other issues facing the community.

Jacober is a good listener, approachable, well-versed in the mid-to-lower valley issues, and has a collaborative nature. Besides, dealing with middle schoolers and their drama and angst has given her resolve in crisis management. We also appreciate Jacober’s bigger-picture view of the statewide issues that will impact our county in the future. Evans has publicly stated that he is not yet well versed on the local ballot measures or state issues by choice.

Evans is known to those in the valley for his strong stance on changing the entrance to Aspen and his “fly in the ointment” approach.

We are thankful that anyone in our county is willing to campaign for an elected seat in the middle of a pandemic. We won’t have easy times ahead, but we believe Chris Council and Francie Jacober are best suited to help us navigate whatever is ahead.

The Aspen Times editorial board is comprised of publisher Samantha Johnston, editor David Krause, reporters Rick Carroll, Scott Condon and Carolyn Sackariason and copy editor/columnist Sean Beckwith.

The Aspen Times’ Rose and Thorns

Thorns to the peeps flipping out over the possibility they will be asked not to ski or ride at Aspen Skiing Co. ski areas during the holidays.

First, no decision has been made yet by Skico, so flipping out is premature. Second, these are extraordinary circumstances and it seems like a small sacrifice for locals to avoid the slopes for lift-served skiing at what will pass as a busy time during reduced capacity.

The way the holidays fall, the busiest time will probably only last from Wednesday, Dec. 23, through Sunday, Jan. 3. Other sacrifices might be sought at other busy times, but that’s a fraction of the season.

The indignant people claiming Skico doesn’t care about locals have short memories. Skico welcomed uphillers to the slopes after the forced shutdown on March 15 and trails were even groomed to enhance the experience. Count it as a blessing if there is any lift-served skiing at all this winter.

A rose goes to a RFTA bus driver for recently showing compassion to a man who tried to get on the bus but was denied because he had no shoes. After the man tried several days in a row, the driver bought shoes for him.

Bouquets all around to the front-line employees in the hospitality, retail and restaurant industries who are enduring bad behavior from a challenging visitor population while they are exposing themselves daily to possible COVID-19 infections. The sense of entitlement exhibited from some people this summer is beyond beyond.

Roses to Pitkin County Open Space and Trails for adding so many great hiking and biking trails over the past 5 to 10 years. Imagine how packed the old trail network would be during this COVID influx if not for places like Sky Mountain Park, Hummingbird and Glassier.

Thorns to town of Basalt for ongoing technical issues with government meetings. Small but critical chunks of both the July 28 Town Council meeting and the Aug. 4 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting were lost for viewers on GrassRoots TV due to a dropped call. Since it appears the teleconference meetings will be held out of necessity for the foreseeable future, it would be nice to clear up those issues.

Thorns to everyone who thinks this virus is a hoax and defies local public health orders. Wear your mask and stop whining about it.

Roses and Thorns (June 26, 2020)

Bouquets of roses go to all of the grocery store workers and every employee who must deal with the public during this pandemic. It’s hard enough to wear a mask all the time, but it’s even worse when you have to be exposed to the virus and visitors who don’t believe in any of it, or just don’t care.

Some thorns are due the city, and here’s why. Under the “basic city government services” category, filling potholes is one of those annoying but necessary functions that citizens expect. At least since the winter and cross-country skiing season, if not before, there have been deep craters eating tires and undercarriages on cars at the entrance to the golf course. It’s not like city officials don’t know they are there; they have to navigate through them as much we do. We get it, times are tough but we are not that bad off that we can’t fill a few potholes. Do we need to have a bake sale to raise money for this basic government function, or should we get a class-action lawsuit together to pay for all of the repairs to our cars? Or maybe the city could fulfill its role as a municipality and just get it done.

Thorns to the federal justice systems for failing to adequately deal with self-styled bad boy David Lesh. The U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to a plea deal with Lesh for riding his snowmobile on Independence Pass in July 2019. He was given a $500 fine and 50 hours of community service. This was a “deal” for Lesh, not for the citizens of the U.S., who the Attorney’s Office represents. The deal was adhered to even though Lesh has committed additional stunts to capitalize on abuse of public lands since the snowmobile incident. In one of the latter incidents, Lesh allegedly hiked up to Hanging Lake while the trail was closed and walked out onto a log in the pristine lake. The federal prosecutor said more is to come in the government’s case against Lesh. Let’s hope so. This guy will be unfazed unless the punishment actually stings.

Roses to Dieter Schindler for being a good sport in participatory government. Schindler was edged out of a Basalt Town Council seat by a handful of votes in the April election. Instead of getting sour on local politics, Schindler volunteered to serve on the town’s financial advisory board. He was appointed by the council Tuesday. This is a great way for Schindler to stay involved and learn more about town government. We hope it also greases the skids for a potential council bid in 2022.

Roses to Tony DiLucia for all of his work at the Hotel Jerome for some three decades. DiLucia navigated the hotel through ownership changes, renovations and other challenges, all the while putting on a welcoming face during his time at the hotel. DiLucia has retired, and we wish him only the best.