Ballot petitions come up short |

Ballot petitions come up short

John Colson

Those hoping to ask Aspen’s voters whether they want a light-rail system came up short in a petition drive last week.

The committee of citizens trying to get enough signatures to put a question on the Nov. 2 city ballot gathered only 686 signatures of “qualified electors,” according to City Clerk Kathryn Koch.

The petitioners have agreed to come up with the 806 required signatures by Thursday, Koch said. That deadline gives her enough time to check the validity of the additional signatures and get the petition to the City Council.

At that point, the council has the option of placing the question on the ballot or declining. If the council declines, the question will go on the ballot as a citizens’ initiative anyway.

According to Councilman Tom McCabe, who is one of the committee members, the packet of petitions turned in to Koch on Aug. 11 was thought to contain 871 valid signatures. But because of a mix-up, he left one petition form filled with signatures out of the packet.

Between that shortfall and the signatures ruled invalid by Koch, the petitions fell short by 120.

Koch said McCabe and his committee – made up of Councilman Tony Hershey, Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Clapper and local citizens Lori Winnerman and Michael O’Sullivan – agreed to gather the needed signatures by Thursday.

McCabe said he expects the needed signatures will be gathered by the deadline.

The initiative drive is to ask Aspen voters to authorize $20 million in city revenue bond proceeds for the city’s share of the money needed to build a light-rail system between the Pitkin County Airport and the center of town.

The light-rail system, if approved by voters throughout the county, is ultimately to be funded by a countywide sales tax, which would require the approval of county voters as well. A companion ballot question for county voters, pushed by Clapper, is being considered by county commissioners.

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