Basalt council posts lure broad field of candidates
Basalt residents won’t lack for choices when they go to the polls April 4.
Three candidates have joined the race for mayor and at least seven people are pondering bids for four council seats, formally known as trustee positions.
In the mayor’s race, incumbent Rick Stevens has decided to seek re-election. He turned in his petition to become a candidate Wednesday.
Current Councilman Steve Solomon decided to run for mayor instead of seeking re-election to a council seat. He turned in his petition Tuesday.
Former Councilman Glenn Rappaport was the first to declare candidacy in the mayoral race. He reconfirmed Wednesday he’s in.
Candidate petitions must be turned in by 5 p.m. on Friday. Candidates have until Friday, March 10 to back out of the running and keep their names off the ballot, according to Town Clerk Pam Schilling.
Schilling has given out 10 petitions to potential candidates for the four trustee openings.
Incumbents Jacque Whitsitt and Anne Freedman, who was appointed, are seeking re-election. They turned in their petitions Wednesday.
Incumbent Leroy Duroux has taken out a petition, but has said he wasn’t certain he would run again.
Solomon is the only council incumbent who is definitely vacating a seat.
Cathy Kulzer and Tiffany Gildred have taken out petitions and have said they will run. Jonathan Fox-Rubin, P.D. Ash and Cindy Ashcroft have also taken out petitions.
Fox-Rubin and Ash couldn’t be reached for comment about their intentions Wednesday. Ashcroft said earlier she was undecided on a bid.
The mayoral race will feature three well-known locals. All three have served on the town board and are involved in a variety of community endeavors.
Each of them talks about getting the town government more involved in efforts to build community, rather than concentrate so much time on land-use reviews. But their means to those common ends appear to offer voters some differences.
“I think the three of us have differences in style,” said Rappaport. “I won’t try to categorize their styles. I am a negotiator.”
He said he will work people to try to achieve the best result for the town. The dynamics of the current board have worked in one way or another to create “negativity,” he claimed.
“I’m running because I think the direction is getting tweaked and people are getting upset by that,” said Rappaport.
He is an architect with an office in Basalt. He won election as a trustee in 1994 and was re-elected in 1998, but he quit a couple of months into that four-year term.
He said he realized he couldn’t continue to devote the necessary effort into the job at that time because he had a new family with four young kids. He said he also feared the board would be paralyzed by inaction – something he believes has happened.
Incumbent Stevens said he is running because people tell him the board has done a good job under his direction and that they want him to run again.
His vision is to address the issues that constituents bring to the board as well as initiatives – like open space and a strong recreation program – that help build community.
Stevens, a project manager with Aspen Earthmoving, said he will answer citizens’ questions and participate in forums, but he won’t treat the campaign like a life-or-death situation. He won’t go door to door, run newspaper advertisements or print literature.
He figures if people felt he did a good job, they will return him to office. If not, he’s proud of what he has accomplished in six years.
Stevens said he views Solomon and Rappaport, each of whom he served with on the board for four years, as “polar opposites,” with himself somewhere in between them on issues.
He was surprised that Solomon decided to run for mayor.
“The last time I talked to him, he was going to run for the board again,” Stevens said. “I guess he just woke up in the middle of the night and said he was going to run for mayor.”
Actually, Solomon said, “it’s something I’ve considered for quite some time.” He had intended to run for trustee again, then Stevens wavered on whether he would run for mayor.
Solomon said he had decided to seek the mayor’s post before Stevens clarified his intentions Wednesday. But his candidacy shouldn’t be viewed as a vote of no confidence in the mayor he has worked with for four years, he claimed.
“I think that’s harsh, because I was certainly willing to support him,” Solomon said.
But by running for mayor himself, Solomon hopes to achieve two goals – serve in a position of leadership and provide political consistency for the board as a whole.
The Basalt Town Council has achieved some impressive goals in recent years, he said, and now it needs strong, emphatic leadership to steer the town in the direction that has been charted.
Solomon, a silversmith, said a central message of his campaign will be that the town government must concentrate on its citizens’ welfare, not physical concerns.
Competitive mayoral races aren’t something new to Basalt politics.
Three candidates squared off in 1986. Bob Murray topped Margaret Darien and Frank LaGioia that year, only to be recalled and replaced by Linda Johnson.
There was a wild race in 1970 that attracted seven candidates, including five apparent write-ins.
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