Campaign starts in Basalt for mayor, three council seats
BASALT – The campaign officially begins Monday for a Basalt election April 3 that will determine the majority of the seven-member Town Council and settle whether residents support a ban on plastic grocery bags.
Candidates for three council positions and the mayor’s seat can pick up petitions starting Monday. They must be submitted by 5 p.m. March 2. The nominating petitions must be signed by 25 registered Basalt voters. Town Clerk Pam Schilling has all the details for those wanting to toss their hats into the ring.
Elections are traditionally a sleepy affair in Basalt, but with the mayor’s seat contested for the first time in eight years, it could draw more attention. Mayor Leroy Duroux cannot seek re-election because of term limits. Current council members Glenn Rappaport and Jacque Whitsitt have stated their intent to run.
Whitsitt’s seat on the council will be open, as will the seats of Peter McBride and Katie Schwoerer. McBride said he won’t seek re-election. Schwoerer has informed town officials she won’t make another run, but she hasn’t made a public statement.
The grocery-ban question also could spark additional interest in the election. In response to a petition drive against proposed regulations on grocery bags, the council will ask voters if there should be a ban on plastic bags and a 20-cent fee on paper bags.
“I expect more of a turnout than we’ve had in the past,” Schilling said.
The council races have the potential to draw interest for a different reason from usual, according to Town Manager Bill Kane, a seasoned observer of Aspen and Pitkin County politics from his days working in government and the development industry in the upper valley.
“I don’t think we’re going to have the traditional-growth-versus-no-growth debate,” Kane said. The Great Recession and slow recovery have altered the playing field. Now the debate is more about what constitutes “smart growth” and how to encourage it, Kane said.
“It’s the Bill Clinton quote – ‘It’s the economy, stupid,'” Kane said.
The town government has set a definitive course in the past three years. It is working with the Roaring Fork Conservancy, Rocky Mountain Institute and nonprofit Roaring Fork Development Corp. to build a campus for nonprofit organizations at the current Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park and area of Taqueria el Nopal Restaurant.
The town has also worked with the developer of Willits Town Center to get that commercial and residential project back on track. Construction of a Whole Foods Market resumed in the fall. The grocer will open this summer.
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In the 1960s The Red Onion as the Aspen Ski Club would host an annual ski fashion preview, which in addition to clothing also included live music and a strip auction.