Basalt elects Duroux mayor
Leroy Duroux won big in the race for Basalt mayor last night in an election where voters clearly felt most comfortable with longtime local residents.
Duroux defeated Basalt Councilwoman Anne Freedman by a tally of 287 to 177, or a split of 62 to 38 percent.
Glenn Rappaport, Laurie Dows and Mark Kittle won election to the three open council seats. Rappaport had the most votes with 299, while Dows made a strong showing with 267 votes. Kittle took the third seat with 238 votes, compared to 230 for Jim Paussa and 183 for Bernie Grauer.
“I guess we get to work now,” said Duroux, who was appointed to the Town Council nine years ago, then easily won two four-year terms as a councilman in 1996 and 2000. He was forced off the council by term limits but he wasn’t prohibited from seeking the mayor’s seat.
Duroux credited his victory to his connections to Basalt and voters’ satisfaction with his performance in office. “A lot of people in the community know me,” said Duroux, who grew up in the Woody Creek area and has lived in Basalt for more than 40 years.
Freedman will have a voice on the Town Council despite her loss in the mayor’s race. She is in the middle of a four-year term as councilwoman. She can serve until 2006 before term limits force her out.
Freedman took a much tougher stance against growth than Duroux. Throughout the campaign, Freedman warned that Basalt already has a lot of development projects that have been approved by the government but are unbuilt. She said a tough approach is needed against more growth to preserve Basalt’s small-town character.
Duroux refused to engage Freedman in debate over their growth stances. He said last night he will not prove to be as anxious to embrace development as Freedman tried to portray. He said he clearly spelled out his position – growth should only occur when it provides clear benefits to the town.
Redevelopment of property along the Roaring Fork River – land where two mobile home parks are currently located – is among the biggest issues the town is facing, Duroux said. That redevelopment is potentially the type of growth he would welcome, he indicated.
The mayoral candidates had different views on how well they can work together once the dust from the election settles. Freedman said she left a message on Duroux’s answering machine congratulating him and telling him she was prepared to work with him.
“It’s all kind of water under the bridge,” she said. “We have to work together.”
Duroux said “time will tell” how well they work together. “Some of her tactics and almost accusations didn’t sit well with me,” he said.
The campaign for the three council seats produced no sparks among the five candidates. In the end, voters went with two high-profile candidates and another who has made numerous contacts through volunteer work at the elementary school.
Rappaport, who formerly served on the council, received the most votes in the election and is well-known to voters. He won election to the council in 1994 and won re-election in 1998, though he resigned soon into the second term due to political and personal reasons. Part of the decision was over accusations that he had a conflict of interest. As an architect, he represented a project for a brief discussion in front of the council before leaving the room.
During the campaign, he said he realized there had been an appearance of a conflict, although the issue fell in a “gray area.” He said he would avoid any similar issue if elected.
Rappaport, an architect who works in Basalt, credited his involvement in civic matters with helping him win. “I have a lot of experience with a lot of the issues,” he said.
He said voters may have been comfortable with him as a candidate in the “middle ground” on growth. He said he heard from residents during the campaign that they don’t want the door automatically slammed on a proposal. On the other hand, they wanted a candidate who would “not say, ‘Come on down, let’s have a party and develop everything,'” Rappaport said.
Kittle was the third familiar face to win in the election. He was a former chief building official for the town of Basalt. He now works for the town of Snowmass Village.
Kittle comes from a ranching family that’s lived near Basalt since the turn of the century. His family’s ranch became part of the Roaring Fork Club. Like Duroux, he is a life-long resident of the valley.
He credited victory to his many contacts during his service in the building department and his reputation. “I tried to treat people fairly,” he said.
Dows didn’t have a lot of government experience to draw on but still won a seat by a comfortable margin.
“I think that I just presented me – who I am. People responded to that,” she said.
She will pay residents back by listening to what they said about growth during the campaign.
“Everybody I talked to said keep it manageable, keep it minimal,” Dows said.
The new mayor and council members take office April 13. Mayor Rick Stevens will step down at that meeting after a decade on the job. Like Duroux, Jacque Whitsitt must leave her seat after two four-year terms. Councilman Jon Fox-Rubin didn’t seek re-election.
Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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