Basalt council race: Pleasant but difficult to see differences
The Basalt Town Council race between five candidates vying for three positions is mirroring the town’s image as a nice, quiet place where everybody pretty much gets along.
That happy, cooperative spirit might be great for building community, but it makes it tough for the candidates to show voters how they are different from their competitors.
None of the five candidates are incumbents so no one’s voting record is being targeted. Unlike the mayoral contest, where Anne Freedman has taken jabs at opponent Leroy Duroux’s voting record on growth, the council candidates haven’t even put the gloves on, let alone taken them off.
All five council candidates – Laurie Dows, Bernie Grauer, Mark Kittle, Jim Paussa and Glenn Rappaport – vowed at a forum Tuesday night to preserve Basalt’s small-town character. They all presented variations of the same theme.
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Paussa promised he won’t bring any agenda to the board other than a desire to make Basalt a more “sustainable” place. Paussa said he wants to tap citizens to help form the town government’s direction.
Kittle said he was “definitely not a politician, as most of you know.” But the Basalt native said he cares deeply about the town and wants to help it achieve a higher level of health. One way to do that is to encourage more commercial development to bring more revenue to the town, Kittle said.
Grauer said his top priority will be preserving Basalt’s small-town character. He said he is neither pro-growth nor anti-growth but would give any development project a realistic shot at approval – as long as it fits the town’s character and meets the goals of the town’s master plan.
Dows said she wants to fulfill her civic duty by serving on the board. She praised the current council’s direction and said she would continue on that path.
Rappaport indicated he wants to fine-tune Basalt and its amenities, not make major changes.
The questions posed to the candidates at the forum did little to bring out differences. Sometimes the answers were too vague to be of value.
When asked where the Basalt Regional Library should be built and what role the town government should play, Grauer took the strongest stand. He labeled it “one of the key amenities that we’re missing right now.” He said the town should “do everything possible” to get one built in the downtown core by offering town-owned land at little or no cost.
Kittle and Rappaport agreed that it should stay in the core. Dows said she personally sees the need to keep it in the center of town, but realized it serves a region and not just Basalt. She said she would follow the direction of citizens working on the location of the new library.
Paussa also said he supports the library district’s citizen outreach process.
The election is Tuesday, April 6. The three candidates elected will replace Duroux and Jacque Whitsitt, who were forced out of council positions by term limits, and Jon Fox-Rubin, who didn’t seek re-election. Duroux isn’t prohibited by term limits from seeking the office of mayor.
Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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