Aspenites choosing new leader |

Aspenites choosing new leader

ASPEN ” Whether the issues confronting Aspen are any more or less important than in elections past is a matter of opinion, but voters emerging from the polls Tuesday appeared to agree on one thing: With the mayor’s seat and two council posts up for grabs, casting a vote is critical.

The polls are open until 7 p.m. Three seats on the five-person council are up for grabs, with four candidates seeking the mayor’s post and a field of eight in the running for the council seats.

Helen Klanderud, the incumbent mayor, can’t seek re-election due to term limits. On the council side, Councilman Torre has chosen not to run for re-election in order to make a bid for the mayor’s seat. Councilwoman Jasmine Tygre was appointed to fill a council vacancy earlier this year and isn’t seeking election, leaving that seat open, as well.

It’s unlikely, though, that that all of the winners will emerge Tuesday night. Runoff voting was instituted in the city in 2001. To win the mayoral race outright, a candidate must collect 50 percent of the vote, plus one, on Tuesday. Otherwise, the two top vote-getters face off in a June 5 runoff.

In the council race, a candidate must garner 45 percent of the vote. One or both council seats, elected at large, could advance to a runoff or be decided Tuesday. If just one council hopeful receives enough votes to prevail on Tuesday, the second two top vote-getters will advance to the runoff; if no one wins outright on Tuesday, the four individuals with the most votes will vie in a runoff.

Either way, the ability to elect a council slate that could change the face of the current council makes Tuesday’s balloting critical, said some voters exiting the Precinct 1 polling place.

“I think it’s an important election, just because it’s a new playing field,” said Giovanna DiRusso.

“They’re all important,” said Troy Miller. “I wanted to make sure Mick gets in,” he added quickly. “I don’t want a developer as mayor.”

Vying for the mayoral seat are Mick Ireland, a former Pitkin County commissioner, Tim Semrau, a developer and former councilman, Torre and Bonnie Behrend, a TV journalist.

“I see the election as more divisive than they have been, with the distinction between the developer and Mick, who’s portrayed as the environmentalist and working man’s candidate, which I totally disagree with,” said another voter, who asked to remain nameless.

With development boiling over as an issue this spring, Aspen’s character appears to be at stake as voters go the polls, offered Tony Kirk after casting his ballot.

But, he added, “I think it’s always at stake around here, quite honestly,”

Klanderud, who cast her ballot at Precinct 1 on Tuesday evening, said choosing her successor at the council helm shouldn’t make this election more or less important than any other.

“Every election is important. People should vote in every election,” she said. “If people are saying this is important because things are awry or whatever, well, what were they doing in the last election?”

Election results will be posted Tuesday at as they become available.

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