Aspen chamber aims to get political |

Aspen chamber aims to get political

ASPEN – With election season upon us, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association has reactivated its Public Affairs Committee so it can weigh in on issues that affect its member businesses.

“There will be a lot going on between August and November this year, so we think it’s important to meet a couple of times a month just to stay on top of things,” chamber President Debbie Braun said at Tuesday’s board meeting.

“The Public Affairs Committee will allow us to articulate our positions in a more timely fashion,” echoed chamber Chairman Donnie Lee. “It lets us be more in touch with the public and our membership.”

Some members of the Public Affairs Committee, which will be chaired by former Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud, held a “pre-meeting” Wednesday; the entire committee will begin meeting regularly until the November election. The full slate of committee members has not yet been confirmed, but it will include a cross-section of chamber members “who represent varying viewpoints and backgrounds,” according to guidelines set forth for the committee in 2008.

Braun said the Public Affairs Committee was activated at that time, but by 2010 the role was being filled by the board’s executive committee. Given the nature of this year’s election, the chamber decided to bring back the separate committee.

“With the national election coming up and potentially some local taxing issues, affordable-lodging studies, master plans and building heights, (the chamber) wants to vet the issues prior to taking any formal positions, and the committee structure allows for that work to happen outside of the monthly board meetings,” she said.

According to the 2008 guidelines, the Public Affairs Committee will consider “ballot issues, land-use approvals, health care and tourism,” though its purview is not limited to those items. It will not endorse political candidates.

The committee will present issues to the chamber board for approval and a recommendation for a level of support, modification or further study by the committee. Levels of support include: sponsorship, in which the chamber assumes ultimate responsibility in support or opposition to see the issue’s completion; co-sponsorship, whereby the chamber provides technical or manpower support to assist other organizations in completing the issue; endorsement, which means the chamber will make public statements on the issue in support or opposition; or no position, wherein the chamber may choose to take no position on the issue and may remain neutral.

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