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A tale of two camps

Charles AgarAspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times
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ASPEN Mick Ireland and Tim Semrau, candidates for mayor of Aspen, each backed by his own PR firm, officially threw their hats in the ring Thursday in their own inimitable styles.”I’m here to announce that I’ve decided not to run for mayor,” Ireland quipped at his opening, though his new website, http://www.mickformayor.com, made his intention to seek office clear.Some 30 people showed up for the announcement at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies as Frank Peters, a former city councilman, introduced Ireland, calling the choice of venue symbolic.”He’s the one who always stands up on environmental issues,” Peters said, touting Ireland’s “serious environmental ethic.”Ireland hopes to help solve Aspen’s traffic burdens by going ahead with the preferred alternative and encouraging transit solutions.”We have to have an Entrance to Aspen that encourages people to use the bus,” Ireland said, adding that transit solutions also help drivers. And he insists that any solution needs to make room for future rail solutions.Ireland wants a downtown core where workers actually live, not just visit for daytime jobs, and something more than “another Rodeo Drive.” And Ireland wants to expand affordable housing, a way to make up for Aspen’s market, calling for city cooperation with the county commissioners.”I always run like I’m the underdog,” Ireland said. And the man who is known for wearing skintight cycling gear to county commissioners meetings said, “I am who I am.”

Say little, honor the peopleWith an “I love locals,” T-shirt poking through his blazer, Tim Semrau announced his candidacy to a crowd of around 30 gathering for drinks and snacks at Jimmy’s, an American Restaurant and Bar.The former city councilman knows re-entering Aspen’s political machine means he’ll be called a “dirt pimp” and a “growth advocate” by the local papers that he says no one reads. But he’s joining the race anyway.”Why can’t we simply solve some of our problems?” he asked. He called himself a “problem-solver and a doer,” unlike his competitor he called a “career politician.”

“Say little, honor the people and get the work done” is Semrau’s slogan.And, not to be outdone, Semrau announced http://www.timforaspen, his Web presence.Traffic relief is the first step, and Semrau, like Ireland, supports going ahead with the preferred alternative in the future, including short-term bus lanes from Buttermilk to the roundabout.Instead of moratoriums, Semrau supports “retail diversity,” and suggested opening the city’s alleys for business, and opening for retail the SCI, the industrial zone around Obermeyer Place and the area near Clark’s Market.While upgrading from deed-restricted affordable housing to the free market in Aspen is no longer a possibility, Semrau advocates changing the rules to allow for “move-up homes.”But Semrau added that if young people can find affordable housing, Aspen is a land of hope and entrepreneurial opportunity.

Who else is in the wings?Ireland played reporter and asked Bonnie Behrend, a local TV personality, if she was running for mayor.”You would be pretty hard to beat,” she answered Mick, going on to say that serving as mayor would mean giving up her job on TV. “I’m very committed to my work,” she said (see related story).Andrew Kole, the local TV show host and perennial candidate, said the race between Ireland and Semrau is “the rich versus the poor.” Despite the odds, Kole will still run and expects his usual 250 votes. He looks forward to featuring candidates on his show, although Kole, like many at both gatherings, expect a close race, even a possible runoff.City Councilman Torre has also hinted he’ll make a bid for the mayor’s seat.Voters go to the polls in May.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.


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