Aspen candidates deny campaign alliances |

Aspen candidates deny campaign alliances

Referendum 1, passed by Aspen voters in May, required a public vote on future developer requests for land-use variances.
Aspen Times file |

Aspen residents can find many campaign materials sorted by stance on Referendum 1 around town, the city’s most widely discussed election issue.

For instance, Aspen City Council candidates Bert Myrin and Mick Ireland can typically be found paired with Torre for mayor and “yes” on Referendum 1 materials. All three candidates have been outspoken in their support of the Home Rule Charter amendment, which would strip the council of its ability to grant specific variance requests to developers without a public vote.

Referendum 1 opponents Mayor Steve Skadron and Councilman Adam Frisch, who are seeking to defend their seats, are found paired together in various locations. At the Hotel Aspen and the Molly Gibson Lodge, owned by hoteliers Michael and Aaron Brown, signs supporting those three candidates are posted together.

The candidates will tell you there are no alliances, and the general sentiment is that the May 5 election has turned into a one-issue campaign.

“There is no coordination, as far as I know, going on between me and Adam,” Skadron said Thursday. “It’s a coincidence those signs have ended up next to one another. I put mine out, and Adam has put his out.”

Torre said that while similar interests are apparent, there was no planned slate. He added that he’s focused on his own campaign and the things he has to do between now and May to accomplish his goal.

“I’m working every day as if it’s a neck-and-neck race,” Torre said, also regarding his support for Referendum 1 as “lukewarm.”

For the rest of the council hopefuls — Keith Goode, Marcia Goshorn, Andy Israel and Tom McCabe — there seems to be little trend.

Aspen’s first campaign-finance report, which was filed the second week of April, shows that many of the same people support Myrin and Ireland. At $250 each, contributing names for both include Blanca and Cavanaugh O’Leary, Marcella Larsen, Michael Behrendt, Robert Long and Margaret DeWolf. Myrin and Torre share a few names, as well: Myrin himself, Myrin’s husband Walt Madden, Wyley and Philip Hodgson and Bill Weiner. Torre and Ireland, however, do not share any contributing names in the first finance report.

Based on that report, Ireland said Thursday that those supporters have shown a lot of concern about the land-use process, which has “spun out of control.”

“There’s no official overlap,” Myrin said. “But there definitely seems to be a common interest among voters that support the three of us. If I see a Torre sign or he sees one of our signs, it seems like the odds are that we can get our signs out to the same places.”

Myrin has publicly stated his support for Torre, and vice versa. Though Myrin has not outright stated his support for Ireland, the campaign materials in his yard link him to the former mayor. However, Myrin said Thursday he would be OK serving alongside anyone but incumbent Frisch, who he butted heads with over Ordinance 19, a controversial lodging package Myrin organized against, resulting in repeal.

Frisch said he has heard supporters championing for any number of candidate combinations in the election. One of the biggest Referendum 1 backers, Blanca O’Leary, has written a letter to the editor in support of Skadron, Frisch noted. Likewise, the councilman noted that he has his own supporters who support the ballot question.

“Obviously, there will be a preponderance of some alliances, if you will,” Frisch said. “But there’s kind of a hodgepodge out there. If (Referendum 1) is going to pass, we want some people in there who can effectively execute it.”

Though Ireland was not one of the “Keep Aspen, Aspen” initiators, Myrin said he played a key role in writing the language for the ballot question.

“Mick absolutely helped because nobody in City Hall will talk to me,” Myrin said.

Ireland, on the other hand, said Thursday the three candidates are not “doing cross endorsements.”

“But (Myrin and I) did work on Referendum 1 together,” said Ireland, who has already voted but wouldn’t disclose his choices. “I think the focus should be on what they have to say, not on what I think or that sort of score-keeping, horse-race stuff.”

Ireland did note that he has supported Skadron’s past two races as well as two campaigns for Torre. He added that he and Myrin don’t agree on quite a few things and don’t represent a political slate or team.

Myrin said it’s his understanding that Ireland is supporting Skadron’s campaign.

“I don’t think there’s anything sort of hidden there,” Myrin said. “I think it’s pretty easy to figure most of it out.”

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