Bill Kane wins Basalt mayor’s race; Drummond, Knight lead field for council seats
*Bill Kane 652 votes
Bill Infante 271
Rob Leavitt 219
*Glenn Drummond 581 votes
*David Knight 575
Elyse Hottel 506
Dieter Schindler 502
Jennifer Riffle 463
Tiffany Haddad 405
Note: There are 56 outstanding ballots that could change council results.
Bill Kane cruised to victory Tuesday in Basalt’s mayoral race.
Kane received 652 votes in the town’s unofficial tally, far outdistancing Bill Infante with 271 votes and Rob Leavitt with 219.
There were 1,153 ballots cast, and Kane collected 56.5%.
“I’m so pleased with the outcome because I thought it would be close,” Kane said seconds after hearing the results. He noted that he felt he had two formidable opponents in the race.
“I’ve got to live up to this now,” he quipped of the big show of support.
The town mailed out 2,538 ballots, and the turnout was about 45%. The final results will be completed after Wednesday, according to Town Clerk Pam Schilling.
In the race for three council seats, Glenn Drummond collected the most votes with 581 and was followed closely by David Knight with 575. Elyse Hottel is ahead for the third seat with 506 votes.
However, Schilling noted in an email that there are 56 outstanding overseas ballots and ballots that need to have signatures verified. The outstanding ballots could change the outcome for the council race, but not the mayor’s race, Schilling said.
Hottel is closely followed by Kirk “Dieter” Schindler, with 502 votes.
Jennifer Riffle, the only incumbent in the field, was far behind with 463 votes while Tiffany Haddad had 405.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Knight, who was running for office for the first time. “I was humbled that people had that much confidence in me, frankly.”
Knight said most of the candidates had similar positions on the major issues, based on discussions at candidate forums.
“I focused on listening and met as many people as I could,” he said.
In the mayor’s race, Kane, Infante and Leavitt were vying to replace Jacque Whitsitt, who couldn’t run again after serving two four-year terms. All three candidates are veterans of Basalt politics.
Kane, 74, served as Basalt town manager from March 2009 to August 2012.
Infante has served two years on Basalt Town Council and has two years remaining on his term.
Leavitt previously served a four-year term on Basalt Town Council. He remains on the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission, where he has advocated to contain growth and enhance Basalt’s small-town character.
“First of all, congratulations to the two Bills on a race well run,” Leavitt said in a statement. “The conditions were difficult but we had productive and engaging discussion which will, in the long run, benefit Basalt.”
In addition to serving with Basalt, Kane was the Aspen-Pitkin County planning director when the upper valley enacted many of its growth-control policies in the 1970s. He also worked in the private sector as planning director for Aspen Skiing Co. and as a principal and owner in Design Workshop, which works on resort communities throughout the world.
During the campaign, Kane touted his breadth of experience and his ability to transcend the factional bickering that often dominates Basalt civic and political discussions. He promised he would enhance the town government’s process of engaging with citizens by adding community meetings outside of the formal, legal public hearings.
“We need to talk to one another,” Kane said during a candidates’ forum Feb. 11. “We need to get away from this adversarial, bitter, rivalry politics.”
As the election results were sinking in Tuesday night, Kane said he felt he made a connection with people who have a spiritual commitment to the mountains and have made sacrifices to live in the Roaring Fork Valley.
“I just think it’s the weight of having been here so long,” he said.
Kane was manager when Basalt, like the rest of the United States, struggled to recover from the Great Recession, starting in 2009. A lot of his time and effort were centered on getting the local economy clicking.
Now, he faces the daunting task of dealing with the coronavirus crisis and the economic havoc it has wrought.
“When I entered the race in December, it was like a whole different century,” Kane said Tuesday night.
Nevertheless, he is undaunted by the challenge and said it definitely provides a focus.
“It’s like I’m at the right place at the right time,” he said.
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