Aspen Mayor Torre eases to second-term victory
Reviving town spirit mired in funk since pandemic hit in March 2020 will be big part of his next term
First-term Aspen Mayor Torre sailed to re-election victory Tuesday with a sound disposal of his sole opponent, Lee Mulcahy, by a 2,039-177 margin, according to unofficial results from the City Clerk’s Office.
Now with two consecutive mayoral election wins under his belt, Mayor Torre said Tuesday his chief focus the next two years will be on reviving a town spirit mired in a funk since the pandemic hit in March 2020. The mayor’s seat comes with up to three two-year terms.
“My No. 1 goal is community connectivity,” he said. “I really want to see Aspen come together. I think there is somewhat of a divide in our community about what Aspen means, and the Aspen I moved to and the Aspen that drew me back was all about being a supportive and nurturing community. I want to make sure we are united as Aspenites.”
Torre — who also was elected to Aspen City Council in 2003 and 2009 — claimed his first mayoral term in an April 2019 runoff win over Councilwoman Ann Mullins by a final margin of 1,527 votes to 1,184 votes.
Like his mayoral predecessor in the May 2017 election, Steve Skadron, Torre had to withstand a challenge from a single candidate — Mulcahy. And he did, routing the government critic by capturing 92% of the vote.
While Torre’s win was all but a foregone conclusion, the mayor attended the campaign forums and stayed on the campaign trail. On Tuesday he was at his familiar Election Day post — the corner of Mill and Main streets by the Hotel Jerome — asking Aspenites for their vote.
While Torre heard honks and cheers from his supporters passing by the corner on Election Day, he also has been — simply by virtue of the seat he holds — a target of criticism by people upset with the public health orders stemming from the pandemic.
As mayor, Torre has sat on the Piktin County Board of Health, sometimes reluctantly going along with the body’s decisions in a show of unity. Concerns from the ailing business community must be addressed in the coming year, he said. Business casualties from the pandemic have included such longtime colorful establishments as The Red Onion.
“I want to figure out how to maintain character that Aspen has and always had,” he said, “and still retain some of that. We are losing some of those wonderful mom-and-pop, locally serving businesses. We need to see how we can maintain them.”
His other goal for the next term is to continue staying focused on environmental initiatives.
“I want to raise Aspen’s environmental profile,” he said. “There is still some work to do.”
As well, the mayor said the town’s complexion is changing with the urban exodus to resort locales like Aspen, which has created a greater demand on municipal services. There are also the issues that continue to face local government: housing, child care, traffic and transportation.
“Affordable housing and places for locals to live,” he said. “That’s always going to be important.”
Mulcahy, who had the campaign slogan “community boosts immunity,” was seeking the highest elected office within the very city he has mocked and criticized over the years. His main crusade has involved his battle with the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority over his employee-housing unit at the city-developed Burlingame Ranch subdivision. APCHA has long held Mulcahy didn’t work full time in Pitkin County, a requirement to own employee housing, and the courts have agreed.
Even so, Mulcahy continues to inhabit the property with his mother, Mama Sandy, despite APCHA’s purchase of the single-family home in December. Mulcahy continues to maintain APCHA did not give him due process before it took steps to force him to sell the home.
“Let’s be honest, he’s going to get re-elected and I want to be the first to congratulate him,” Mulcahy said at the Squirm Night candidate forum Feb. 18. “But I think we can see a way forward because all we are asking for is peace in this community.”
Mulcahy did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment Tuesday.
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