Aspen’s younger generation seeks to ‘make voting cool again’

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Kate Korn, an Aspen Young Professionals board member, talks to Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill at Wednesday night's Voter Awareness event at Ryno's Pies and Pints in Aspen. Korn was inquiring about the amount of postage required for mail-in ballots.
Lauren Glendenning/The Aspen Times |

As the November election approaches, a local group of young professionals is setting out “to make voting cool again,” said Aspen NextGen President Skippy Mesirow.

NextGen, along with the Aspen Young Professionals Association, hosted a voter awareness event at Ryno’s Pub & Pizzeria on Wednesday night with a turnout of about 200 people. Free pizza and beer were served, courtesy of developer Mark Hunt, who is campaigning to win support for his Base2 Lodge project. The event was aimed toward getting Aspen’s younger crowd to the polls.

“Voting is not just a right. It’s a responsibility,” Mesirow said.

Base2 supporters, Spring Board Aspen and a group advocating for the Armory building’s conversion to a community center also had display tables at the event to spread their messages.

Young professionals association President Genna Moe referenced what former Mayor Mick Ireland called “an old joke among politicians” that appeared in Monday’s Aspen Daily News.

Ireland’s column read: “Question: What do you call politicians who count on the ‘youth vote’ to win?

“Answer: Losers.”

Moe told the crowd that she takes personal offense to Ireland’s remark and that she would like to prove the longtime Aspen politician wrong.

“And I think he would like to be proven wrong,” she added.

In an effort to combat low voter turnout, the group set up a table where people could register to vote. Aspen Young Professionals Association marketing chair Meredith Schurch estimated roughly 20 people registered.

They also had representatives from four ballot issues: Base2, the Armory building as a community-use center, the school district tax and the hospital mill levy. The representatives gave the crowd a brief explanation of the issues and encouraged people to stop by their tables for further information.

Marcus Blue, a periodontist who’s lived in Aspen for five years, said he was surprised and encouraged by the turnout at Wednesday’s event.

“I hope this is the start of something more to come,” Blue said.

While the event was targeted toward reaching Aspen’s younger demographic, all members of the community were encouraged to attend, said Ashley Feddersen.

“We see great value in the co-mingling between people who’ve lived here for 20 to 30 years,” she said.

Hunt attended along with consultant and former City Council member Dwayne Romero, and City Council members Art Daily, Ann Mullins and Mayor Steve Skadron, among other familiar Aspen faces.

“It really is great to see everyone coming together,” said Ryan Onofrey, who’s lived in Aspen for seven years.