Candidate requirements too lax?
ASPEN The probe into whether City Council candidate Toni Kronberg lives in Aspen has some elected officials concerned that the requirements to prove residency are too lax.”I think for the community’s best interest, we have to improve the validation of residency,” said councilman-elect Dwayne Romero. “There is a pretty obvious disconnect.”The “disconnect” is that the only requirement for a candidate to prove residency is signing an affidavit. Kronberg signed an affidavit saying her permanent address is 230 N. Spring St. and she has lived at that address since last summer. But several sources have told The Aspen Times that Kronberg lived in Aspen Village last year. There is speculation that she still might live there. However, Kronberg said she just rents an office in the basement of a home there.
The City Council decided in a closed-door meeting Tuesday that it will delay investigating Kronberg’s eligibility to run as a candidate until after the June 5 runoff election. The investigation was prompted by three separate complaints filed by citizens, challenging Kronberg’s qualifications as a resident. Those citizens are displeased with the council’s stalling tactics.”I’m absolutely outraged,” said Jim DeFrancia, who filed one of the complaints. “It’s preposterous. I think it’s shameful. What a bunch of wimps.”Ron Erickson, a former member of the Planning and Zoning Commission who had to resign in 2002 because he moved out of the city, also formally challenged Kronberg’s residency. He questioned why the council would wait until after the election to determine whether Kronberg is a valid candidate.”What good does that do?” he asked. “If she doesn’t get elected, it’s moot. If she is elected, what are they going to do – hold another election?”She has destroyed the democratic process.”DeFrancia agreed.”They risk putting the whole election in jeopardy,” he said.
Andrew Kole, who ran unsuccessfully in the May 8 election, said Tuesday that if his opponent wasn’t qualified to run, perhaps he or the other candidates would’ve gotten her 487 votes.Kronberg is facing Steve Skadron in the runoff election. She garnered the third-highest count May 8, with 22 percent. Skadron received 862 votes, or 39 percent, placing second. In order to win a seat on the council in the first go-round, a candidate must garner 45 percent of the vote, plus one.Romero, who will be sworn in June 11, said he would support pursuing changing the city charter so requirements for proof of residency are more detailed.City Councilman Jack Johnson also supports changing the charter to make it more clear what “residency” means and then fully proving it. Johnson ran in 2005 against Dee Malone, who was challenged on her residency because she lived in Snowmass but was renovating a home she owned in Aspen. Her intention was to move back to Aspen, so she was considered a qualified candidate.”Residency has been an issue for the past two elections,” Johnson said. “Clearly, this is something the council needs to address.”City Attorney John Worcester said the state constitution clearly defines “residency,” but he would be open to pursuing stricter guidelines to prove whether a candidate lives within city limits.
“I would be open to that,” Worcester said, adding that instant runoff voting could be part of a charter amendment proposal. “I certainly don’t mind looking into it.”Because the investigation is pending, Worcester said he would not release the evidence Kronberg provided, which she claims proves she lives at 230 N. Spring St., a riverfront home that Denver real-estate agent Denise Reich owns.Kronberg said she gave city officials leases that prove she has lived in Reich’s home for the past year as a caretaker. She has declined to give The Aspen Times proof of the leases. “I think it’s unfortunate that the documentation can’t be released and that Toni won’t release them,” Johnson said. Worcester said the investigation will resume after the election, and he encourages people who have information about Kronberg’s residency to contact him at City Hall.”If they have information one way or the other, I ask them to contact us,” he said. “I mean that – either way.”Carolyn Sackariason’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
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