Aspen councilman rails against holiday visitors in social media post, later apologizes |

Aspen councilman rails against holiday visitors in social media post, later apologizes

People walk and shop on Hyman Avenue in Aspen on Friday, January 3, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Aspen City Councilman Skippy Mesirow apologized this week for posting a rant on social media about the crowds in town during peak season and that they are not the “right people” to visit here.

“I shouldn’t have framed it that way,” he said Friday about his Instagram post he made over the weekend while he was driving in crowded downtown Aspen. “I apologize for reacting the way I did.”

His post began with driving today “is a f—ing disaster … there are god d— people and things and accidents everywhere.

“I think it’s time we have the conversation about it’s too many people in town at peak season and they are not the right people and even if we have to take a little bit of a haircut on our income, which I certainly would, it’s worth it for quality of life and the character of our town.”

Mesirow on Friday would not specify what type of people he was speaking about but said he has talked to many service workers who are at their wit’s end because of how they’ve been treated by guests in the past two weeks.

He said he saw a security guard cry at the city’s New Year’s Eve event at Wagner Park and as an elected official, people have been reaching out to him more sharing their frustrations, stress and feelings.

Mesirow, who took office last June, also got a lot of feedback from his Instagram post, both positive and negative. Some who criticized him said he was a “dummy” and he needs to realize that they make most of their money during the holiday weeks. Others thanked him for saying something about the town being at capacity.

“Thank you to the community members who reached out to me and criticized me,” he said, adding he has greater clarity now.

Some of Mesirow’s colleagues on City Council were not impressed by his comments and said it was unbecoming of an elected official to bash tourists in a resort community.

“I was surprised by his comments,” Mayor Torre said. “Not necessarily what he said but how he said it.

“I was glad to see he accepted responsibility that his comments were brash.”

Like Torre, Councilman Ward Hauenstein said he has accepted that for a few weeks out of the year, town is overrun with guests.

“You have to be patient and take deep breaths,” Hauenstein said, adding that Mesirow’s comments “shocked” him.

“Particularly as an elected official you are the voice of the town,” he noted.

Hauenstein and Torre questioned why Mesirow was driving in town during peak season, exacerbating the situation and going against the city’s ethos of a pedestrian-oriented downtown.

Mesirow, who works for a vacation rental property, said he was in between work emergencies and needed to drive.

While the Instagram post has been taken down, Mesirow posted Friday on Facebook saying he had been on a two-month cleanse and had been vegan but broke it by eating a steak, compound butter, creamed spinach and bread and then got sick for a day and a half, making the end of 2019 a rough one.

He acknowledged the Instagram post, and said he has a lot to work on and realizes he shouldn’t post when he is frustrated.

Hauenstein said with age comes wisdom and he is sure that his younger colleague regrets his statements.

“I think patience comes with age,” he said. “Social media capitalizes on impatient people.

“I hope that civil discourse prevails in 2020.”