Aspen City Council election: Ward Hauenstein and John Doyle win seats, beat out 6 other candidates
Aspen voters picked two longtime locals in Tuesday’s City Council election, voting for incumbent Ward Hauenstein and newcomer John Doyle — who combined have lived in Aspen for 84 years.
“I think there is a good indication in Aspen that people want to stay with the old guard,” said Hauenstein, who received the most votes with 1,036.
Doyle, a newcomer to politics although having lived here for 40 years, was a close second with 993 votes.
In a field of eight and with 4,343 votes cast (voters could pick up to two candidates), the pair beat the threshold of 45% plus one vote, which wound up being 979 votes.
Doyle said Tuesday night he was thinking there would be a runoff.
“I was prepared for that but not looking forward to it,” he said. “I was surprised by the gap between me and Kimbo, and frankly it just reaffirms what I felt from the beginning, which was I felt I had a pretty good level of support with long-term locals.”
Kimbo Brown-Schirato finished third with 693 votes. She was followed by Sam Rose (437 votes); Erin Smiddy (387); Mark Reece (364); Casey Endsley (327); and Jimbo Stockton (106).
Hauenstein, who has served for nearly four years, said he wants to continue the work he and council have been doing. That list includes finding the right balance for the number of units in the yet-to-be-built, city-developed Lumberyard affordable-housing site at the Aspen Business Center near the airport.
“Everything has to be analyzed entirely before decisions are made,” he said Tuesday. “I want density that gives residents there a quality of life and that we can honor them with good housing. We don’t want so much density that people can’t have a quiet enjoyment of life.”
The 69-year-old Hauenstein said he also wants council to reconsider the decision-making authority of the citizen-appointed Historic Preservation Commission, as well as pursue more public-private partnerships for workforce housing.
Doyle, 60, said his top priorities are updating the Aspen Area Community Plan, which is the city’s guiding principles document for the next decade, and focusing on the battle against climate change.
He added that his first priority is “trying to bond with the other council members, and I want to continue in the direction we’re going.”
Doyle is joining Mayor Torre, who easily secured a second two-year term in Tuesday’s election, as well as Councilmembers Rachel Richards and Skippy Mesirow. Those two were elected in 2019 and are in the midway point of their terms.
The other seat is being vacated by Ann Mullins, who is term limited after serving two four-year terms.
City Clerk Nicole Henning said as of Monday there were 6,119 registered voters in Aspen and on Tuesday, 2,343 (38.3%) of them turned in a ballot by 7 p.m. She said the votes would be certified by Friday.
The Aspen municipal election date was changed by a vote in November 2018, moving it from May to March.
Before the move out of the offseason, voter turnout in the May 2017 city election was 38%, with 2,413 out of 6,400 voters showing up to the polls. In March 2019, there were 3,243 votes cast, a 20% increase over the 2017 election. The turnout in 2019 was 53.2% of the 6,095 registered voters.
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