Basalt candidates Q&A: grade the council
Editors note: Today marks the first installment in a six-part series looking at the candidates in the Basalt Town Council election. There are two open spots on the council, and the election will be held April 1.Today, the candidates offer a little information about themselves and weigh in on the current Town Council’s performance.GARRET S. BRANDTAge: 40 Family: Married, four children Education: BA accounting, JDOccupation: Attorney Neighborhood: Willits How many years have you lived in the valley and in Basalt? Grew up in Aspen and moved to Basalt in 1998.Prior community service: BES Accountability Committee, ACA Board of TrusteesOn a scale of 1 to 10, grade the current councils performance (1 being the worst and 10 being the best), and explain your answer.Grading the council on two years worth of actions, without being at all the meetings, is going to be weighted heavily by those issues that made the news, or were otherwise of interest to me. In addition, there were several time consuming items, such as the updated master plan, that carried through several meetings. But, overall I feel the council has been quiet on a number of issues that need to be addressed. The River Master Plan has not made any significant progress since the report came out in 2002. Council does not seem to have agreed upon a common set of priorities that it can direct staff to pursue. Overall, given my understanding of the actions taken by council, I would give the current council a score of 7 out of 10.BRIAN DILLARDAge: 39 Family: Jana, wife; Jenna 8, Jack 6, Hayden 9 months Education: Shelby State – Business Management, PGA of America – Business Management, Personnel.Occupation: Self employed, Peace of Mind Properties a ‘Lifestyle Solutions’ company; Ran Top 200 Private Golf Clubs 1992-2006 Neighborhood: Riverside Drive, Downtown ‘Old Town’How many years have you lived in the valley and in Basalt? Hired at the Roaring Fork Club in early 2003.Prior community service: Served on multiple committees in Bluffton, SC; annexation committee (went from a 1-square-mile town to approximately 25,000 acres to control our destiny), pool implementation committee, little league coach (basketball, baseball, golf ); currently on Basalt’s Planning and Zoning Commission On a scale of 1 to 10, grade the current councils performance (1 being the worst and 10 being the best), and explain your answer. Hmmmm 1-10; there is such a line in the sand with current council members so as a whole, I have been dissatisfied with some. I will rate this as a whole not based on vote per person. (5) TOO much emphasis on 20 years from now and not concentrating on current issues that affect the town now. There is a lot of development on the books already planned; how will we be able to move with out more efficient road connections, a tunnel under Highway 82 to connect South Side? Does Basalt need to be the grocer to the valley? We’re a population of 3,200 people yet we have two grocery stores with one to come? How will Basalt handle this influx of daily shoppers in less than 24 months? Day care is non existent in Basalt; how has the current council responded to this issue? Our largest job provider has essentially given Basalt 24 months notice of vacancy. What have we done to fill this void? After two years working on the master plan with my fellow commissioners, we passed to the council a great option to listen to possible solutions with future development. The council dismissed that option with no thought as to what solutions may come. How do we solve the River Master Plan issues alone? How do we solve the affordable housing issues alone? There are many great thinkers out there; some are developers (who also have funds and land). The current councils vote turned a deaf ear and left Basalt in the lurch. What has the council even proposed on land that the town owns?PETER MCBRIDE Age: 37 Family: Single; my parents, brother and sister have lived in the valley since the early 60s. Education: Aspen school system, BA in English Literature and Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College. 2006-07 Knight Fellow, Stanford University. Occupation: Photographer and writer, National Geographic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Outside, Esquire, Mens Journal, High Country News, and many other publications. Neighborhood: Old Town, Basalt How many years have you lived in the valley and in Basalt? Grew up in the valley, lived in Basalt for 7 years. Prior community service: Chairman of the Community Foundation Spring Board, volunteer coach for Aspen Junior Hockey, Youth Soccer and worked with valley theater productions. On a scale of 1 to 10, grade the current councils performance (1 being the worst and 10 being the best), and explain your answer. The council has faced some tough decisions, particularly on the Urban Growth Boundary, and I think they have done a decent job trying to balance the long-term needs of the community and current growth pressures. Nonetheless, I think they could have done better. For example, I think they needed to work harder to improve the affordable housing stock in Basalt. The towns affordable housing mitigation requirement is currently at only 20 percent, which I think is far too low. I also believe they have not been proactive enough with the day-care situation and at times allowed themselves to be muddled in indecision, which handcuffs everyone in the community.KATIE SCHWOERER Age: 32 Family: Husband, Anders Gustafson Education: MA – International Administration; BA Economics and International Studies Occupation: Lender, American National Bank Neighborhood: Willits How many years have you lived in the valley and in Basalt? I moved to the valley in 2000 and I moved to Basalt in 2006. Current community service: English as a Second Language tutor, treasurer of Spring Board, volunteer with DonorDirect. Prior community service includes: Cared for orphans in Guatemala City; interned with an environmental microcredit non-profit; worked for a United States Congressman in Washington, D.C., and interned for the United Kingdom Parliament in London. On a scale of 1 to 10, grade the current councils performance (1 being the worst and 10 being the best), and explain your answer. The Basalt Town Council is a board of citizens who essentially volunteer their time because they care about their home and their neighbors. For their commitment I applaud and thank the current and past Basalt Town Council members. I agree with and support the current councils overall adherence to the citizen-created master plan. However, I also think that there are areas where the council could do more. For example, Basalts affordable housing policy is inadequate; we must update it to reflect current pressures. Day care is in severe shortage for Basalt families and proactive measures by council are required here as well. And while the town made significant progress by partnering to preserve the Grange Ranch, more action is necessary to conserve the rural buffer. RICK STEVENSAge: 56 Family: Married, two sons; Tyler, 18; Jeffrey, 25 Education: BS Clarkson University Occupation: President/CEO Aspen Earthmoving LLC., 30 year ski school Aspen Skiing Co. Neighborhood: Live in the Riverside Drive/Elk Run neighborhood. How many years have you lived in the valley and in Basalt? I have lived in the valley for 33 years and in Basalt for 21 years. On a scale of 1 to 10, grade the current councils performance (1 being the worst and 10 being the best), and explain your answer. Anyone who commits to serving the public as an elected official deserves a 10. They are all putting the time and energy into a sometimes thankless job that will pay off in the future. I know I did it for 12 years. The current council has the advantage of having a master pan that was 10 years in the making starting in 1994. A supplemental plan for the river corridors was completed in early 2002-04. The UGB that was established in the 99 plan that became an election issue in 2006 did not change substantially. The current council is managing the pressures of growth as well as can be expected and adjusting to an environment that comes with being located within minutes of a super resort as best they can. We will need to strengthen our resolve in order to maintain a livable community.JACQUE R. WHITSITTAge: 54 Family: Tim Whitsitt Education: BS Land Use/Geology Occupation: Retired Neighborhood: River Oaks How many years have you lived in the valley and in Basalt? 22 and 13 Community service: Board Chair, New Century Transportation and English in Action; Healthy Mountain Communities Board; Past Chair, RFTA and Midvalley Trails Committee; Founder and chair of La Mision bilingual newspaper; Past Colorado Mountain College Board and Eagle County Home Rule Charter Commission; Basalt Town Council 1996-2004. On a scale of 1 to 10, grade the current councils performance (1 being the worst and 10 being the best), and explain your answer. This council gets an A for effort from me. Its a difficult job with little in return. Those volunteering donate their personal time, do their homework and make decisions based on what they believe is right. As a citizen, I find that the town does a great job on public works, especially beautification of town. Theres been great progress on the Lake Christine project, we have excellent community recreation programs and the Basalt staff does an awesome job of general care taking of the community. Possible improvements: I would like to see Basalt show leadership in the area of regional cooperation and collaboration on land use, water and energy issues areas that know no boundaries; the review process needs to address carrying capacity issues prior to approving more development; the rules for developers should be clear. The 1995 community survey shows low scores in the parks and trails category. There needs to be completion/improvements to existing trails, such as the Willits Trail, which could be the strongest direct link between downtown and Willits. We also need additional trails and safe crossings. Policy efforts should be directed toward deed restricted and rent controlled housing for our teachers and local residents; we should review local transit circulator options; and we need more stringent green building and energy conservation practices.