Aspen mayoral questionnaire, part 5: Tackling Aspen’s challenges for start-up businesses
MAYOR QUESTIONSEditor's note: The Aspen Times asked five questions of the two candidates vying for mayor: incumbant Steve Skadron and challenger Lee Mulcahy. This year is a mail-in ballots only, and election Day is May 2.Question 1: Tell us about yourself and why you’re running for Aspen mayor?
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 mayor, 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 final installment of a five-part questionnaire for the two mayoral candidates in the May election — incumbent Steve Skadron and challenger Lee Mulcahy.Mail ballots will be sent out Monday, the same day The Aspen Times launches its five-part series of questions for the six candidates vying for the two open seats on Aspen City Council.
Today’s question: As mayor, how would you make Aspen more affordable for mom-and-pop or start-up businesses? Or do you prefer to let the free market decide?
I agree that the opportunity to open a small business is harder than ever. I believe we should do as much as possible with public-sector tools before imposing more regulations than the ones we’ve already enacted. We’ve changed the land-use code to create second-tier spaces that should be attractive to mom-and-pop stores, we’re exploring new opportunities in SCI zone (e.g. area by Clarks) for locally serving businesses, and we’re considering way-finding and sidewalk treatments that can help drive pedestrian traffic to desired locations. Alongside the recent chain-store regulation, these tools should help make it more possible for small businesses to get started in Aspen.
Ronald Reagan famously quipped that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” As a libertarian, I believe the less the government interferes in the free market, the better.
Aspen’s situation is unique: (1) Our home-grown, 800-pound gorilla (Aspen Skiing Co.) employs over 4,000 people in a town of 6,700 and (2) city government’s default mechanism is to interfere and legislate, which creates unintended consequences.
The existence of a predatory monopoly on public lands requires the use of community forces to foster mom-and-pop and/or start-up businesses with incubation spaces. Many council votes are 4-1; Councilman Bert Myrin isn’t part of the mayor’s voting block, which favors resort/development over the community. In the last election, although Bert was not endorsed by the local papers or local political elites, Bert trounced 10-time electoral winner and former Mayor Mick Ireland. Bert correctly stated: “We are not practicing the Golden Rule. Our community is being overwhelmed by the resort and a minority that feels entitled to do whatever they want based on their own self-interest instead of the overall good of the community.”
Regarding this issue and others, Bert Myrin offers a third way forward. The old Cooper Street Pier and other spaces have sat vacant for years; put it to use incubating!
This mayoral election offers a choice for Aspen’s soul. The ad agency-owning mayor promised “slow growth” and “transparency”; however, actions speak louder than words. My vision of Aspen is a place where its community members still shake hands even if we disagree, of one where artists aren’t evicted from their self-built homes and where whistle-blowers aren’t banned from public lands for passing out a living-wage flier. I promise to be the voice of the working man, of the community, of freedom and of liberty.
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Onsite parking won out over a Turkish bath at a new lodge planned to be built across from City Market. Aspen’s elected officials didn’t want to burden the neighborhood with offsite parking for the new hotel.