Ann Mullins to run for seat on Aspen City Council

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Ann Mullins

ASPEN – Ann Mullins, who chairs the Aspen Historic Preservation Commission, said Wednesday that she will run for City Council.

Mullins, 64, becomes the third person to declare a candidacy for the council. Former Councilman Dwayne Romero and Aspen attorney Art Daily already have thrown their hats into the ring. Though Planning and Zoning Commissioner L.J. Erspamer has indicated that he will run for mayor, he has not ruled out a possible bid for council.

There are two open council seats in the May 7 election. Councilmen Torre and Derek Johnson, whose terms expire in June, are planning to run for mayor, leaving the door open for new council membership.

Petitions to qualify for council or mayor are available in the City Clerk’s Office. Candidates must record at least 25 valid voter signatures under the process. The deadline to turn them in is 5 p.m. April 5.

Mullins lived in Aspen for three years in the early 1970s before leaving to pursue a master’s degree. She co-founded an urban-design firm and raised a family in Denver, later returning to Aspen and becoming a full-time resident. She has served on the Historic Preservation Commission for seven years and has been chairwoman for the past three.

She said that if she is elected, her council term will represent careful and informed oversight of the city’s growth.

“My field is large in scope,” Mullins said. “I’m a landscape architect, and I’ve worked in open space, preservation, urban design, those types of things. It’s a full range of everything from gardening to large-scale development.”

The firm she co-founded in 1984, Civitas, grew from two to 50 employees and handled national and international work. As its managing principal, “I was in charge of getting all the projects out the door, on budget, and in charge of all the staff,” she said. “I have quite a bit of experience in business but, at the same time, physical design of cities.”

She said that while she favors a strategic and measured approach to development, she also understands the need for cities to adapt to changing times.

“You can’t stay the same, or you get stagnant,” Mullins said.

Serving on the Historic Preservation Commission has provided her with “a tough course in the physical aspects of the city,” she said.

“I’ve have found spots I never even knew existed,” she said. “When you do these projects, you go and check them out, and then later you go back and make sure you did the right thing. That’s one tremendous benefit. I feel like I know the town so well after all the review.”

Mullins said she understands that there is much more politics on the City Council than on the commission, which provides the council with recommendations on projects involving historic properties.

“The (Historic Preservation Commission) meetings have really been interesting,” she said. “I’ve tried really hard as chair to address some of the concerns I’ve heard from citizens and tried to get our decisions consistent, somewhat predictable and backed up very well by our guidelines.”

She’s also a believer in streamlining the mechanics of a meeting.

“I’ve tried to get us out of there when we’re supposed to be out,” she said. “That’s just management of meetings. We’ve worked hard to run the meetings the way they’re supposed to be run and get out in a reasonable amount of time.”

Speaking about her position on development, Mullins added that one positive outcome from the recent recession was that it gave the Aspen community a chance to pause after the fast growth that resulted from “infill” regulations implemented a decade ago.

“We now have a chance to step back and reassess what we have in Aspen and how we should proceed in the future,” she wrote in a letter to potential supporters. “We can move forward strategically and carefully with clear goals.”