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Aspen elections – better than reality TV

It is only March but we can anticipate things warming up around here rather rapidly in the weeks to come, and it will have nothing to do with global warming. Aspen will conduct city elections this May, and we already have five potential candidates standing in line for the mayor’s job.An election in this valley usually turns out to be a bizarre reality show, which is something to look forward to. I can’t vote in the city election because I live outside the city limits, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sit back and enjoy the entertainment.Two prominent Aspen residents have already announced their candidacies for the mayoral race. They are former Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland and former City Councilman Tim Semrau. And waiting to announce, according to news reports, are Andrew Kole, host of a television show on GrassRoots TV; City Councilman Torre, and also reported to be in the running is Bonnie Behrend, the anchor and news director for TV Aspen. And, of course, there may be other potential candidates lurking in the shadows. There seems to be no lack of local citizens who believe they should be in charge.Ireland is the only candidate I can claim to be fairly familiar with, and that is the result of the years when I was active in the Woody Creek Caucus and he was a commissioner. There certainly were times when he pissed me off, but the thing that impressed me most was the fact that no matter the topic being discussed or argued, Ireland came to meetings completely prepared. I am assuming that all of the candidates are intelligent and articulate, but that is only an assumption. I have satellite TV and cannot receive local television, so for the most part Behrend and Kole are complete blanks on my page. Ideologically, Kole and I are probably standing on different banks of any given river. And although I don’t know a thing about Behrend, one had to appreciate her response in this paper about using a PR firm to assist in her campaign, if she has one. She said she wouldn’t enlist any spin-doctors, adding, “I don’t need to sugarcoat anything. I have my own bullhorn.” That shows some moxie that can be appreciated, especially in a town such as Aspen.Torre and Semrau also do not come through all that clear for me, mostly because in recent years I slowly began to lose interest in city politics. We were discussing Aspen’s transportation problems in 1970, and it is as if that same discussion continues and nothing has been resolved. I would hope that both Torre and Semrau are qualified to run the city, and I would also hope that their qualifications (or lack of them) would become clear during the campaign.I am not at all certain why I should take any interest in this election, as I have no vote. But as I said, elections in this valley can become outrageously entertaining and I guess that is my hope. They also can become rather ugly, which is not my hope. Unfortunately, citizens tend to view most politicians with jaundiced eyes, so it is relatively easy for a campaign to slide from civil arguments to vile accusations. While the candidates themselves may stand above the fray, their supporters too often are willing to dive into a cesspool and gleefully fling excrement at one another. One can only hope this election will, at the very least, produce more thoughtful discussion than personal venom. But there is much more in the air in March than politics. Baseball has returned. Spring training has begun in full and fans of the Colorado Rockies can once again fill their hearts with hope, which will probably turn to despair long before the leaves begin to turn in the fall.The pundits have already picked the Rockies to finish last in their division this season. I am an optimist when it comes to the Rockies, which is one reason I refuse to gamble. I make bets with my heart and not with my brain, which is not to say I would improve my winning ways if I were to reverse that process. The Rockies were very good last year. At least they were pretty good for the first couple of months of the season and then the wheels came off. I’m betting they will do much better this year – oops, there goes my heart making bets again. But I get excited about baseball because as a kid it was the only game I was reasonably good at. I was too small for football, too short for basketball and too shy to be a cheerleader; baseball was the one sport I could play and could do so fairly well. At least as I look back, I like to believe I was fairly good. When I was a kid, tennis was not all that popular but I did play some golf. The problem was that in Billings, Mont., where I grew up, you had to share the municipal golf course with rattlesnakes.As a result of the snakes, most everyone carried a 1-iron in their bags. None of us could hit a 1-iron with any skill but it was a wonderful club with which to fend off the snakes. The main problem was that it was extremely difficult to focus on your next shot when you knew there were rattlesnakes sneaking around the course.I suspect that is why I never went into politics – too many snakes sneaking around the course. This is the 338th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place beloved because it has no mayor or mayoral elections.


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