Another familiar face in Basalt council race
BASALT – The Basalt Town Council race attracted a second familiar face when former Councilman Glenn Rappaport said he will enter the April 6 election.
Rappaport acknowledged Monday he is a political junkie, or at least a glutton for civic engagement. He said he likes the idea of helping “facilitate the direction” of the town.
“It’s just fun to sit at the table,” he said.
Rappaport is the second former member of the council to informally enter the election. Anne Freedman, who was on the council from 1998 until 2006, announced last week she is also running.
Three of seven seats on the council are up for grabs. Incumbent Chris Seldin announced he won’t seek re-election. Board members Gary Tennenbaum and Amy Capron haven’t yet announced their intentions.
Today is the first day for candidates to pick up nomination petitions. They must be submitted to the town clerk by March 5 with the signatures of at least 25 qualified town elections.
Rappaport, 56, an architect, was elected to the council in 1994, then sought re-election in 1998. He resigned shortly after winning because he felt he didn’t have support from other board members on a conflict of interest issue. He won election again in 2004 but didn’t seek re-election in 2008, in large part because of family obligations.
His kids are a lot older now, ranging from ages 12 to 24. Rappaport said the recession has also made it easier to serve.
“My work is slowing down, too. I can’t say I can’t fit it in,” he said.
Rappaport said he isn’t running against anyone and his candidacy doesn’t reflect dissatisfaction with the current council. He said he really hasn’t paid much attention to town politics since stepping down in 2008.
“I don’t want to be the guy who runs and says, ‘I’m running because all these things are wrong,'” he said. “At this point I don’t have a big agenda.”
He said he worked hard to foster a climate in Town Hall where town residents and business people were encouraged to bring their best ideas – whether it was a development application or a proposal to on some social aspect. The council can help build a stronger town even when it’s not making a major land use decision, he said.
For example, Rappaport said he actively worked to keep the library in or near downtown Basalt when he was in office. The town government acquired land and later sold a site by the post office to the library district. The facility opened in January to broad accolades, and now the community is reaping an additional benefit with the relocation of the Wyly Arts Center to the old library.
Rappaport said the Town Council always needs to be mindful of what it can do to promote “vitality” in Basalt, and that doesn’t necessarily mean granting land use approvals. A common complaint about Aspen is it became “monolithic” and not such a melding pot of people from different socio-economic backgrounds, he noted. He doesn’t want that to happen to Basalt. The council must be engaged in issues involving all people, from kids to seniors, he said.
Rappaport believes his governing style changed between his first and second terms, something that observers could confirm. He rarely backed down from an argument in order to press his point of view during his first term. In his second term, he said he focused on expressing his views, trying hard to be persuasive but accepting contrary opinions that were well-reasoned. There were no arguments. In fact, Rappaport often helped the board avoid tension through his approach to issues.
“There should be some levity there. We should have more fun,” he said.
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Eagle County will go to Stage 2 fire restrictions Friday, joining Pitkin County and other state and federal lands in the area.