Campaign ’21 taking shape in Aspen for council, mayor |

Campaign ’21 taking shape in Aspen for council, mayor

Candidates for Aspen City Council and mayor emerging with platforms and communication strategies

The campaign for the 2021 municipal election in the city of Aspen is shaping up as 10 candidates for three seats are beginning to present their platforms and establish their strategies to win votes.

And during a pandemic, campaigning is going to look and feel different from previous elections.

There won’t be as much face-to-face interaction, door knocking and in-person fundraisers due public health orders aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“Out of respect for people, I will not go door-to-door,” said Aspen Mayor Torre, adding his fundraising efforts also will look different. “In-person, multi-person gatherings will not be the same.”

Torre is running against Lee Mulcahy, who is in a yearslong legal battle with local government over his eligibility to live in his deed-restricted, subsidized home at Burlingame Ranch.

Much of the campaigns and fundraising among the eight vying for two open City Council seats will likely take shape via virtual meetings and gatherings, as well as through direct mailers, emails, websites, social media, newspaper advertising and yard signs.

Some candidates said they plan to participate in some level of in-person campaigning.

“Ultimately, my plan is to meet as many people as possible and I am sure I will do some door knocking,” said City Council candidate Sam Rose.

John Doyle, another candidate running for council, said he was advised that the best way to campaign is to knock on doors, and he also is considering a fundraiser at a local restaurant.

Councilman Ward Hauenstein, who is vying for a second four-year term, said he plans to host Zoom meetings with specific groups in the community to have discussions on issues of concern.

Candidates have less than eight weeks to get their messages out and convince voters to put them in office as Election Day is March 2.

Aspen City Clerk Nicole Henning said ballots will be mailed out Feb. 8 and should arrive in voters’ mailboxes a few days later. Early voting begins Feb. 12, but what that looks like is still up in the air as COVID protocols will dictate how people will be able to vote in person.

“Early voting is going to look different this year,” Henning said. “We are only going to do paper ballots, no touchscreens.”

In-person voting should be limited to those who do not receive ballots, are newly registered, or the ballot they received in the mail has been compromised or filled out mistakenly.

Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill said voter registration will be available in some fashion at her office on Main Street.

Currently the office is closed to the public until Jan. 15, and Vos Caudill said she will assess whether to open by appointment only on Jan. 19.

“In any event, once the city of Aspen’s ballots drop we’ll put the ‘A’ frame registration sign on the front sidewalk outside the door on the street across from St. Mary’s Church, and a sign in the door, with the door buzzer, just like we did for the June primary and November presidential,” she said via email. “Also, people can go to and print a registration form and drop it in our drop box in front of the building; we collect a couple of times a day.”

On Election Day, the office will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to handle last-minute voter registrations.

There are currently 5,766 active registered voters in Aspen.

The second seat that is open on council is currently occupied by Councilwoman Ann Mullins, who is serving her second and final four-year term, due to term limits.

City Council candidates must earn 45%, plus one, of the vote to win a seat, per the city’s home rule charter. For the mayor, it is 50%, plus one.

It’s likely that one council candidate will meet that threshold, but a second one getting that many votes given the crowded field is unlikely, City Attorney Jim True said.

If that’s the case, there will be a runoff election between the top two vote-getters. That election would occur April 6.

“With eight candidates, there will very likely be a runoff,” he said. “I would be flabbergasted if there was not a runoff.”

Aspen City Council candidates

Casey Endsley

Age: 41

Profession: Small-business owner

Years lived in Aspen: 15

Sam Rose

Age: 27

Profession: Pitkin County lead case investigator/contact tracer for COVID

Years lived here: Since 2019

Erin Smiddy

Age: 45

Profession: Currently not in a specific profession. April will be 15 years as volunteer firefighter with Aspen Fire. I’ve been working at Clark’s Snowmass since trying to figure out my next career move

Years lived here: 40

John Doyle

Age: 60

Profession: Primarily, I work as an artist, but I have had many other jobs to make ends meet before and since I began woodcarving

Years lived here: Full time since 1982.

Kimbo Brown-Schirato

Age: 38

Profession: Financial services and small-business owner

Years lived here: 16

Ward Hauenstein

Age: 69

Profession: IT consultant and network administration

Years lived here: 44

Mark Reece

Age: 50

Profession: Entrepreneur and small-business owner

Years lived here: 12

Jimbo Stockton

Age: 54

Profession: Ski instructor

Years Lived here: 23

Editor’s note: Not all candidates have websites set up, so those that are included are are active, or soon will be.

Mayoral candidates


Age: 51

Profession: Tennis professional

Years lived in Aspen: 27

Lee Mulcahy

Age: 55

Profession: Artist but work for Gerd Zeller in home construction.

Years lived here: Almost 27 years

Editor’s note: Not all candidates have websites set up, so those that are included are are active, or soon will be.

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