Basalt mayor seeks re-election |

Basalt mayor seeks re-election

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

BASALT ” Basalt Mayor Leroy Duroux announced Thursday that he will seek re-election on April 4.

Duroux, 58, who has served one four-year term as mayor, said last month he was undecided about running again.

“I’ve been getting a lot of encouragement from community members,” he said yesterday.

More important, Duroux said, he decided to run because he believes his experience and knowledge of town issues can contribute to creating a successful future for the community.

“It all boils down to my love and dedication to Basalt,” he said.

Duroux was appointed to the Basalt Town Council in 1994, and then won four-year terms as a councilman in 1996 and 2000. He ran for mayor when term limits forced him out of a council seat.

He identified his No. 1 issue as addressing the flooding potential of the Roaring Fork River. “It might really come to the forefront this spring,” he said.

The town government has paid for extensive assessments of the flooding problems and potential solutions. The price of flood mitigation has stymied most efforts to implement the plan.

Another top issue identified by Duroux is connecting Southside with what’s referred to as Old Town. Southside has grown extensively in the last decade and is poised for significantly more growth. A project called Stott’s Mill has received initial approvals for 105 residences. The Basalt Design District could add 171,000 square feet of commercial space and at least 40 residences.

But Southside and Old Town are separated by Highway 82 and feel like different communities. The town government has considered extending Midland Avenue to Southside and either burrowing beneath Highway 82 with an underpass or adding a roundabout at the intersection of Midland Avenue and the highway.

“Something’s got to be done,” Duroux said.

Despite those challenges and others, Duroux said he is “thrilled with the strides we’ve made.” He said the town looks great and is an active, vibrant community. He said he doesn’t have enough words of praise for the staff at town hall.

But governing hasn’t always been rosy. Duroux was at odds with the majority of the seven-person board in October when the town’s land-use master plan was reviewed. Four board members voted to keep a tight urban growth boundary ” or area where the town will be allowed to grow. Duroux and one council member wanted more flexibility. Duroux argued that allowing a larger boundary could help the town provide vital affordable housing. The majority felt an adequate amount of housing could be provided without allowing what they considered suburban sprawl.

Speaking to the Aspen Times after the vote, Duroux acknowledged that battles over different visions for the town were wearing him down.

The divisions could remain. Three council members who often disagree with Duroux on land-use issues are in the middle of their terms and will be on the board for at least two more years. They are Amy Capron, Chris Seldin and Gary Tennenbaum.

The three council members Duroux is aligned with more often are likely to be gone. Mark Kittle said he will not run; Laurie Dows and Glenn Rappaport said it is unlikely they will run.

Duroux acknowledged there is the potential for ongoing divisions within the council, but said that is part of governing.

Duroux would be a formidable foe for any challenger. He hasn’t been seriously challenged in his three elections for council or mayor. He also is one of the best-known Basaltines because of his widespread civic and community involvement. He is a diehard supporter of the Basalt schools and athletic programs, even though his own children have graduated. As mayor, he is the face of Basalt in many ceremonial functions.

No one else has announced intentions to run for mayor yet, but the campaign season is just starting. Candidates can circulate nomination petitions, largely a formality rather than an onerous step, between Feb. 11 and Feb. 29.

Former Basalt Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt previously said she is considering a mayoral bid. She is currently traveling in Thailand and said she will decide once she returns home in mid-February.

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