Aspen City Council questionnaire, part 1: Meet the candidates |

Aspen City Council questionnaire, part 1: Meet the candidates

Sue Tatem


Editor's note: The Aspen Times asked five questions of the six candidates vying for the two open seats on Aspen City Council held by incumbents Art Daily and Ann Mullins. Aspen residents should receive their mail ballots this week. Election Day is May 2. Question 1: Tell us about yourself and why you’re running for Aspen City Council?

 Question 2: What area of Aspen city government needs the most improvement?

 Question 3: Why or why not should the city reserve its rights to dam both the Castle and Maroon creeks?

Question 4: Does the Lift 1 side of Aspen Mountain need capital improvements such as a new restaurant, lodge and chairlift, or is it fine the way it is now? Question 5: As a member of City Council, how would you make Aspen more affordable for mom-and-pop or startup businesses? Or do you prefer to let the free market decide?

Editor’s note: This is the first of a five-part questionnaire for the six candidates vying for the two open seats on Aspen City Council held by incumbents Art Daily and Ann Mullins. Aspen residents should receive their mail ballots this week. Election Day is May 2.

Art Daily

Years in Aspen: 49 (from 1968)

Occupation: Real estate attorney with Holland & Hart LLP (almost fully retired); assisting with Pathfinders grief and loss counseling when needed.

Education: BA from NYU in political science; JD from CU Law School.

Volunteer work: Various, including service on Aspen Junior Hockey Board.

Biggest political influence: JFK.

Explain why you are running for City Council: I decided to run for council four years ago because I wanted to give something back. Following my tragic loss in Glenwood Canyon in 1995, this town showed up to support me in ways that are hard to describe. I felt I knew the town and its people and issues well enough to help on City Council. Now it’s time to put what I’ve learned during my first term to work. I believe I bring a balance to the council, which can be a meaningful contribution in a strong-minded community. This is our town; let’s do what we can to leave it an even better place than it is today.

Ward Hauenstein

Age: 65

Years in Aspen: 40

Occupation: Computer-related business owner

Education: Political science and history, University of Minnesota

Volunteer work: Citizen Budget Task Force, chair workforce house; Aspen Community Church, administrative board; Aspen Chapel, administrative board; built the first server for Rofintug providing the first internet service provider for the Roaring Fork Valley; not-for profit work, Ski Club, before it was AVSC; organizing the gymnastics program at the Red Brick, recruiting the coach.

Board experience: Aspen Election Commission, Pitkin County Translator Advisory Board, Rofintug board of directors, startup years

Who is your biggest political influence: Ralph Nader — he demonstrated that individuals can make positive changes from outside the governmental structure.

Explain why you are running for City Council: I am running because I want to help shape the future of Aspen by being a participant in creating solutions. History has taught me that correcting governmental decisions is a difficult task. Governments have legal mechanisms of initiative and referendum to provide an avenue for citizens to correct decisions of government. I believe it is the duty of citizens to use these strategies to keep government aligned with community wants. I have been engaged in local issues for many years. When local government made decisions that many thought were contrary to the best interests of the town, I fought for what we thought was right. I led the opposition to the Castle Creek Energy Center. When spending was over double what was promised and the city schemed to avoid federal government scrutiny of the project we said enough. The citizens of Aspen supported this effort by overturning the project in a public vote. When City Council approved the Base2 hotel project, across the street from Carl’s, with 21/2 times the density allowed by zoning and many other concessions, I again led the opposition. After a six-month battle we defeated the Base2 at the polls by a 63 percent to 37 percent margin. If we have learned anything from recent elections, it must be that government has a duty to be responsive to all. The culture of listening to and valuing only like-minded people must end. The challenges we face demand the mental horsepower of all mind sets.

Skippy Mesirow

Age: 30

Years in Aspen: I first moved to the valley December 2004; on skis on Snowmass at 15 months.

Occupation: Creative director, Aspen Entrepreneurs.

Education: BA communications, University of Colorado at Boulder

Volunteer work: I have served on, or serve on the following nonprofit boards: Aspen City of Wellbeing, The Aspen Mentorship Program, Parkinson’s Disease Research Society, Children of Heroes and Enabled Enterprises. I have also participated five years in the Aspen Cares fashion show. Through our work with NextGen we also convened a multi-year effort, the #iVoteFORaspen campaign to turn out voters and increase civic participation.

Board experience: Chairman, Planning & Zoning Commission; two-term chair, Aspen Next Generation Advisory Commission.

Who is your biggest political influence: Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Men who in times of tremendous strife and discord were able to hold firmly to their own principals. I admire how both men created a future greater than the sum of its parts by building bridges and bonds of trust where only trenches and divisions laid.

Explain why you are running for City Council: Over the past five years I have had the privilege to serve our community as chair of the P&Z and the Next Generation Advisory commissions, as well as founded three community nonprofits. I have the strongest admiration and appreciation for those who came before me and created this amazing town. I am running to rebuild trust in government, modernize its structure and process to reflect the needs of the modern age, and create a more livable, more unified Aspen. I am running to lead a coordinated effort to create a 21st-century government; technologically, structurally and procedurally modified to ensure representation of everyone, not just a vocal minority. I believe it is time for government to reach out proactively, involving our citizenry in a warm, connective, reflective, and authentic manner. I am also running because I believe we need a more livable Aspen. I believe we can revitalize downtown Aspen by reclaiming public spaces for affordable, small, local businesses, parks, the arts and community spaces. We can use existing and emergent technologies to create a valley-wide transportation system that people want to use, and that gets cars off the road. We can build in accountability and sustainability into our affordable housing program to ensure it endures as a centerpiece of our community for the next 40 years and more. Those that came before us left us with something truly magical, and I believe, with restored trust, effective governance, a stronger sense of community and a more livable environment, our town can be just as good as it was, and even better.

Ann Mullins

Age: 68

Years in Aspen: First came here in 1971, living here on and off since then, and now have been living here full time for 15 years.

Occupation: Landscape architect and ski instructor.

Education: Bachelor of science in mathematics, Wells College; master’s of landscape architecture, Utah State University.

Volunteer work: Challenge Aspen, Aspen Film, Aspen Historical Society, Healthy Community Fund, Roaring Fork Volunteers, Food and Wine, ACES, Aspen Institute, Yellow Brick, Red Brick, Aspen Community Church

Board experience: Aspen Historic Preservation Commission, Red Brick board, Board of Health, RFTA, Ruedi Water and Power Authority, Pitkin County Weed Advisory Board, POD HHS Board, Colorado Historic Preservation Review Board.

Who is your biggest political influence: Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.

Explain why you are running for City Council: When I was asked four years ago to run, I had never had any intention of going into politics. But I thought with my background in business, planning, my years on the Historic Preservation Commission and my love of Aspen, I could succeed at the council table. Now after four years, I consider it an honor to serve on City Council. I still do not consider myself a politician but a collaborator, someone who facilitates connections between people, people and issues and, most importantly, people and solutions. A conduit of knowledge gathered from the numerous sources that are available to council members and sharing this information so that people can understand issues, controversies and proposed policies and craft a solution that is best for the city and its citizens. To work with such a smart and informed, and many times challenging, public, a capable city staff, and alongside my fellow council members, is at many times a challenge, but in most cases the results are worth it. I have seen quantifiable improvement to the city in the last four years that I have served on council. In short, I would be honored to serve on council again and continue the work we have begun. In the next four years I will work to solve our transportation and mobility challenges, realign the affordable-housing program to address inventory, enforcement, and aging stock, and work toward the best balance of resort and community.

Sue Binkley Tatem

Age: 72

Years in Aspen: 20

Occupation: Resident artist at Red Brick, retired biology professor.

Education: High school in Broomfield; BA from University of Colorado at Boulder; Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin; Post-doc at National Institutes of Health.

Volunteer work: Donated paintings for charity fundraisers, free art lessons.

Board experience: Library board, grant review boards for National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation

Who is your biggest political influence: I’m not a politician; I am an independent thinker.

Explain why you are running for City Council: My husband died last November. I have time to do some work for the city I love. I have skills and experience with finances, writing, and reviewing proposals. I live at the Gant condominiums and I have daily contact with our visitors.


Age: 47

Years in Aspen: 23

Occupation: Tennis instructor, part-time sound engineer.

Education: St. Petersburg High School, Florida State University, Sante Fe Community College, Aspen State Teachers College.

Volunteer work: I am a proud member of the Aspen Elks Lodge and volunteer throughout the year for many organizations.

Board experience: Aspen City Council, RFTA board, RWAPA board, NWCCOG board.

Who is your biggest political influence: Tough to pick one — John Adams, Jerry Brown and Bob Marley.

Explain why you are running for City Council: I am running for a City Council seat to reconnect our community to our council. I promise to honor the public’s input, Aspen’s history and our legacy. I seek to represent an Aspen for all, our community and the resort. I believe in smart growth that maintains character, supports local business, integrates housing and fosters community. I am an environmentalist at heart. I am proud of some accomplishments we’ve made, but we can do more to be green-smart. I will work for an improved housing program, supporting our resident partners, creating new integrated opportunities and maintain and diversify our inventory.

I promise to listen, and get it right the first time, for the betterment of our community. Over the past few years we have seen citizen referenda on several council actions. We have seen the failed processes of the Powerplant, the Base2 proposal, lodging incentive package, applications for damming rivers and building reservoirs and more. We cannot afford four more years of wasting time, money and energy. I am excited about the possibilities ahead and the opportunity to represent your voice on council.

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