Aspen mayoral hopefuls won’t list second picks
The Aspen Times
Aspen’s mayoral candidates are such a competitive group, not one of them would say whom they would support other than themselves.
In a recent email query, The Aspen Times asked all six political rivals the following question: “Pretend for a moment that you aren’t running for mayor. For whom would you vote, and why?” Obviously, the precise nature of the question fell upon deaf ears, but all of the candidates did provide some sort of answer.
Councilman Torre wrote that each of his five opponents has “fatal flaws” that would prevent him from supporting them.
“Adam Frisch lacks the time and experience both in Aspen and on City Council, no offense,” he wrote. “He just moved from New York to Vail to Aspen six years ago.”
Torre was critical of his other opponents, as well.
“Maurice Emmer has fought environmental initiatives,” he wrote. “He is against any housing program, doesn’t want to improve growth regulations, and yet doesn’t offer solutions for the future.”
Torre wrote that fellow Councilman Derek Johnson is too conflicted for the mayor’s job as a member of Aspen Skiing Co.’s management.
“Aspen wants to work with (Skico) but does not want a company-controlled town,” he wrote.
Torre had some good things to say about Planning and Zoning Commissioner L.J. Erspamer and Councilman Steve Skadron but added that he couldn’t support their candidacies, either.
“I wanted L.J. to run for council,” Torre wrote. “He has given great service on P&Z for years, but I haven’t seen leadership or interest in any other issues. Steve is probably most aligned to my political views, but I couldn’t vote for him because then the new four-person council would appoint the vacated seat. And, I think he can benefit from more time on council.”
Johnson also spoke to the qualities of each of his rivals but used a different tone.
“We all have strengths that would serve our community well,” he wrote.
“I have gotten to know L.J. through working with him on P&Z and playing hockey together,” Johnson wrote. “He is a dedicated and community-focused individual looking to improve Aspen. As a hockey player, we are evenly matched. He is faster than me, but I have a harder shot.”
Johnson wrote he doesn’t know Emmer very well “as he is pretty new to our community.” He wrote that Emmer’s stock with him rose when Emmer, who has been highly critical of the city on the Castle Creek hydropower issue and other matters, “put down his critical pen and stepped up to the plate to run for office.”
Johnson wrote he and Torre have been friends for more than 20 years.
“We both started in Aspen as pioneering snowboarders. I have enjoyed serving on council with him. While there were several issues we did not see eye to eye on, there were several we did. Torre and I will be friends for a long time to come,” Johnnson wrote.
He wrote that although he ran against Frisch in 2009, he supported his bid to run again in 2011.
“He and I see eye to eye on many issues, but not all. I look forward to the possibility of continuing to serve with Adam as he has two years left on his council term,” Johnson wrote.
Likewise, Johnson wrote he has enjoyed getting to know Skadron.
“He and I think differently on many issues. However, we have always been able to have productive and spirited discussions. Like Adam, I look forward to the possibility of serving with Steve over the next two years as he also has two years remaining on his council term,” Johnson wrote.
Skadron answered the question simply.
“I would vote for the candidate who would vote for the principles that underpin small-town character and a quality of life we all desire,” he wrote.
Nor was Frisch specific.
“I would, of course, vote for the person I think will best lead our community going forward — bringing more common sense to local government, focusing on people over policies, preserving Aspen’s unique small-town character while providing appropriate opportunities for vitality, making it easier for small businesses to start and stay in town, and making sure we have more beds for our much-needed guests,” he answered.
Frisch wrote he has a lot of respect for his five opponents but added, “I will leave it up to the voters to form their own conclusions.”
Emmer wrote all of the candidates are good citizens with good intentions.
“Some occasionally have pushed back against bad process,” he wrote. “Overall, years of wasted council time and misdirected council effort have been tolerated, however, while (Mayor Mick Ireland) has run an ‘ends justify means’ government. From this record it has been hard to discern in current council members an understanding of our Home Rule Charter (our city’s Constitution), curiosity about why our city budget is so high and wasteful, alarm at the amount of unnecessary litigation, or concern about frequent disregard of proper government process.”
Therefore, Emmer explained, he cannot say that there is another candidate who would provide the strong leadership needed at this time.
“That is why I am seeking the office — to provide an alternative to the status quo,” he wrote.
Erspamer wrote if the voters want the same style and methods of governance that Aspen has had in the past, they could vote for one of the four councilmen: Torre, Skadron, Johnson or Frisch.
“However, I believe we need someone innovative in the position of mayor who will bring new ideas and diversity of opinion to council,” Erspamer wrote. “We need someone who will value and respect citizen input. We need someone with a proven track record who can work within the dynamics of our city government. I am that person.”
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