Candidates explain desire for public office
As we always like to do before an election, we will be grilling the candidates for two seats on the Aspen City Council and the mayor’s seat during the next week.We have asked all 12 candidates for the May 6 election a series of questions that will appear throughout this week. The Aspen Times, Aspen Daily News and GrassRoots TV have also teamed up to host Squirm Night this Friday night, when the media and audience members can pepper the candidates with questions. The event will be held at City Hall chambers, with the council candidates on stage from 5 to 7 p.m., and the mayoral candidates from 7:30 to 9 p.m.Today’s question is: Briefly tell us about yourself (family, occupation, etc.) and explain why you are running for office and deserve a seat on the City Council.Helen Klanderud(Mayoral candidate)An Aspen resident and homeowner since 1971, I am the mother of four children who grew up here and attended Aspen Public Schools. Two of my sons, now young single adults, live and work in Aspen. Two married children and their spouses live respectively in Denver and Washington state. I am the proud grandmother of two delightful grandsons.I am a lawyer and a licensed clinical social worker. I served as a Pitkin County commissioner from 1981-87. My involvement with the community through the years includes serving on numerous nonprofit boards, including the Aspen Writers’ Foundation, Roaring Fork Legal Services, Aspen Hall of Fame, and other volunteer activities, e.g., RESPONSE and Aspen Thrift Shop.As mayor for the past two years, I have brought my knowledge of the community, my commitment to community service, my listening and problem-solving skills, and my experience in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. I would welcome the opportunity to continue to serve as your mayor for the next two years.Terry Paulson(Mayoral candidate)Age 52, native Coloradan, hometown Aspen past 21 years. Single. Own free-market studio Hunter Creek. Have worked at City Market and Ute Mountaineer. Cross-country ski instructor, hiking, biking, paragliding, scuba divemaster, active environmentalist. Member Aspen City Council 10 years.I want a return to civility at council meetings. Respect for members of the public who wish to speak, allowing time, giving them our attention. Not interrupting, making faces, shaking heads or contradicting people who address council.I want to bring decision-making back into the open. Encourage public debate on important issues. Discourage council members from informally coming to decisions before meetings. During the past two years I’m repeatedly surprised to be the only one of the five who did not know what the council majority had already decided, in advance of the council meeting.Let’s curb the size of local government. It has grown beyond the needs of our town, and beyond the realities of our economy. New York City just cut 3,400 jobs. We need to trim, harmlessly, through attrition, and by reducing “make-work” the city invents to justify its overgrown staff. This council demonstrates that it is out of touch by wanting to hire yet a second city manager, instead of reducing staff, in response to economic realities.Above all, I want the mantra of council to change from “more” to “preserve.” I favor good development. But this is a tourist economy. Development for its own sake must not be the economic engine. We need to be uncompromising in safeguarding our natural environment, and preserving the scale and historic nature of our town.Andrew Kole(Mayoral candidate)My career has mostly been in entertainment marketing and promotion, getting my start with Warner Bothers film division in 1976. In 1998 I found myself in South Beach working with a friend of mine on his weekly newspaper as a consultant and writer. On Oct. 6, 1998, I moved to Aspen.My working life in Aspen has been, to say the least, interesting. In the fall of 1999 I wrote a letter to the editor about the “new” roundabout which led to me doing a Sunday morning talk show on KNFO called “Ham & Eggs.” Six weeks later I found myself in the 4 to 5 p.m. drive-time slot hosting the Andrew Kole Show. My objective with the show was to provide an opportunity for residents of the valley with a “voice” on both local and national issues. We succeeded, and although we ruffled a few feathers along the way, callers were never misquoted.January 2001 saw me move my show to GrassRoots TV, focusing on local Aspen issues. We have had an open-mike policy since the day we started, providing an opportunity for anyone to come into the studio and voice their opinion.Why do I deserve to be the mayor of Aspen? I don’t … nobody deserves to be mayor. I would consider being elected mayor an honor and a privilege.What I would bring to the citizen’s of Aspen is a work ethic, filled with creativity and a “yes we can” mentality coupled with the ability to get things done. I believe I am the best candidate to focus on growing our local economy because I have done it with my television show and while working as a member of the CCLC with the Aspen Saturday Market. I also believe because I have no political agenda I can cross over the lines of self-interest and find positive solutions to benefit all the people that make up Aspen.Tony Hershey(Council candidate)My family moved to Aspen when I was 10 years old, in 1975. My father was police chief here and served on the Aspen City Council. My mother and sister live here, too. My mother works for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, and my sister is the counselor at the Aspen Elementary School. I work for the Aspen Skiing Co. part time and practice law part time and currently serve on the Aspen City Council “full time.”I have accomplished a great deal, and a lot of what I wanted to do on the council, but I feel there are still some projects and initiatives I’d like to see through, and some ideas that I have that I would like to see come to fruition.Lisa Markalunas(Council candidate)I am a fourth-generation Aspen native residing at Williams Ranch, an affordable housing neighborhood at the base of Smuggler. I am single and am employed by Reese, Henry & Co., a local accounting firm. I serve on the board of the Williams Ranch Homeowners Association and volunteered on the city of Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission from 1998-2001. My parents live in Aspen and have a long history of public service. In addition, I have a sister who resides in Aspen with her family, and two brothers and a sister-in-law, all Colorado residents. I am running for City Council because for far too long we have allowed the erosion of our quality of life and our community character. Our independent spirit has faded beyond recognition. I have experienced firsthand the visionaries who embraced the Aspen Idea, those who made Aspen, in its finest moments, both a world-class resort and community without compare. The current leadership on City Council does not reflect the visionary leadership we in Aspen deserve in these challenging times. I am willing to make the commitment to serve the citizens of the Aspen community with the vision, the determination, the passion and the dedication to make Aspen the best place it can be. Our future can be better than our past and I will dedicate myself toward working to make such a future a reality. My dedication to and my background in this community make me uniquely qualified to be a member of the next Aspen City Council.Tom McCabe(Council candidate)I came to Colorado to find a place to ski for a year after graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in business and public administration. I arrived on Oct. 1, 1972, and knew I’d found more than a ski area; I had found my home and I have never left it. I have owned Aspen Repair since 1973. I am married and my daughter is an honor student at Loyola University.My community involvement and leadership experience is extensive and can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.AspenMcCabe.com. My most well-known local affiliation is with Mountain Rescue-Aspen. I saved many lives in the Aspen area and around the state of Colorado. I am one of seven Search and Rescue Mission Coordinators for the State of Colorado. I am a Navy veteran and a 22-year member of the Aspen Elks Lodge. I have fulfilled my very specific campaign promises of 1999. I do not deal in fluffy generalities that have little basis in reality. I have a proven track record in building affordable housing, preserving open space, creating wetlands, parks and trails, creating the new Aspen Recreation Center, supporting the completion of the skateboard park, supporting the arts, and much more. I believe I have proven to be a courteous, respectful and thoughtful councilperson who has respected the results of every ballot issue vote. I do my homework and try my best to balance the community values expressed in the Aspen Area Community Plan. I believe management consists of more than saying no to everything; the future deserves thoughtful consideration and active participation.Pepper Gomes(Council candidate)I grew up in Natick, Mass. My mother, Wanda Barlow, was a single parent who worked in a paper factory during the day and was a waitress at night. As a result, I grew up making my own choices in life. One of those choices was to make Aspen my home. With 35 years of community history, I am proud to be part of the Aspen work force.I’ve been a ski instructor all of my life. I started teaching skiing on the East Coast in the ’60s and continued to teach after I joined the Army in 1963. Being a ski instructor is all I ever wanted to be, and my other occupations have been all in support of teaching skiing. As a ski school director, I supervised over 100 ski instructors, managed a half-million dollar budget, did the payroll, made a profit, and still had a great time. My wife Susan and I have been married for 25 years and we have a beautiful 10-year-old daughter, Lauren.My goal as a City Council member would be to bring about appropriate change to match the needs of our city. Change is difficult to embrace, but necessary for the health and vitality of our community.We talk of preserving community, yet are stuck in an ideological time warp with policies that hinder, rather than nurture, our future. It’s time to step up to the plate and take a swing.Rachel Richards(Council candidate)Aspen has been home for 25 years. My son is a sophomore at Mesa State in Grand Junction and a kitchen manager. I work directly with business owners and employees in advertising distribution. I want a council seat because I enjoy working with others to improve the lives of our residents. Seeing kids on the new ballfields at the schools, or skateboard park, or Yellow Brick playground or swimming in the new pools, makes all the meetings worthwhile.Restoring Aspen’s economic and community vitality isn’t a new concern for me. As mayor, I initiated Aspen’s first marketing fund. I believe in affordable housing because working residents add vitality and support local businesses. I think we can do more to support the arts, which sets Aspen apart, and make the Wheeler shine with more live performances.With your vote, I will see us acquire Smuggler and Shadow mountains, not study them endlessly. The current council doesn’t seem able to move past the S-curves debate and replace the Maroon Creek Bridge, built for trains 120 years ago and now ranking 22 out of 100 for safety. Simple actions, like first-class landscaping on Highway 82 from the AABC to town are overlooked.With challenging economic times, Aspen needs honest, straightforward leadership, someone who sees the forest and the trees, defines direction and goals and pulls the right partners together to get it done. Vote absentee at City Hall if leaving town before election day, May 6. Your one vote will make the difference. Thanks.Tom Peirce(Council candidate)I moved to Aspen with my family in the spring of 1960 at the age of 5. During the ’60s our family operated a guest ranch, Snowmass Lodge, nestled in the head of the Snowmass valley. In the winters we relocated to Aspen, where my parents managed ski restaurants, first at Buttermilk and then at Aspen Highlands. My brother, Fred Peirce, sister Melanie Brown, and father, Everett Peirce, live in the valley. My mom, Freddie, passed away seven years ago.After graduating from Aspen High in 1972 I continued my education at Colorado State University, where I received a bachelor’s degree in natural resources, followed by a Master of Science.In 1979, I founded an educational travel company called High CountryPassage, which ran worldwide natural history and cultural trips for alumni associations and major museums. Among others, clients included the Stanford Alumni Association, Harvard, Yale, the Smithsonian Institution and the American Museum of Natural History. I sold the company three years ago, but remain a part-time consultant to the new owners.During my extensive travels, I never lost my love for Aspen and the valley – its people, its cultural programs and its spectacular setting.Aspen is at a defining moment and needs new vision and leadership. We must ensure that we manage our growth wisely, such that our natural and cultural assets can be enjoyed at the current level for generations to come.Torre(Council candidate)My name is Torre and I want to be your council representative. It was 12 years ago that I visited a friend in Aspen; I was immediately taken by the incredible mix of natural beauty, small-town charm, wonderful people and world-class art, music and culture. In the 10-plus years I have been living here, I have worked in lodges, restaurants, offices and clubs. Currently, I work for the Aspen Skiing Co. and the city as a tennis pro. I am a Big Buddy in the Buddy Program and sit in on councils from housing to transportation to youth issues. I am running for office because I feel that I am the best candidate to serve Aspen. I seek to bring a youthful perspective and an unencumbered objectivity to decision making. As my campaign slogan says, I am for “Progress and Preservation.”I want to preserve and enhance the character and heritage of Aspen while making real progress in environment, transportation, housing, economics, youth issues and more. I am the one candidate that has proposed actual solutions to some of the issues we face. I have initiatives that are doable, and can be implemented for immediate positive results.I know that as you learn more about me and my platforms and ideas you will want to cast one of your votes for council to me. It would be my honor to serve Aspen and I will make you proud if you cast one vote for Torre for City Council. Please call or contact me with any questions or comments, at 920-1126, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vitashka Kirshen(Council candidate)Some of my friends, while most encouraging, seem genuinely puzzled at why, at the age of 75, I decided to get involved in the exhausting, often exasperating, experience of seeking an office that requires unusual physical stamina, long hours of study and debate, pays little and calls for incredible patience.My principal reason is quite simple. I grew up on a farm in Connecticut and, after a long and varied career in New York, I first visited, skied and fell in love with Aspen in 1968. I returned almost every year afterward and cheerfully became a full-time resident and booster in 1989.I believe very strongly that bringing a senior voice to the council, based upon a lifetime of wonderful and gratifying learning experiences, just might make a difference in achieving a consensus among council members who often seem more interested in squabbling than problem solving.My experiences include 11 busy years as co-director of the pioneering Energy 2000 Forum, a dedicated group of Aspen volunteers whose vigorous efforts led to the creation of the Community Office of Resource Efficiency (CORE), and many other environmental firsts; program coordinator in New York for the first major brain research project (PETT); 14 years in pediatrics and pediatric research at NYU Medical Center; founder-director of my own greeting card business, art gallery and artists’ agency. Aspen work experiences vary from guest services representative of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA) to sales at Regents’ Row and The Golden Bough; and volunteer for a dozen organizations.I have always been an optimist – if sometimes a despairing one. And I think that very slowly we are learning to “disagree agreeable.” With civility, common sense and respect for every citizen’s views, I am hopeful we can find the solutions to safeguard our economy, civic and spiritual values, and our environmental treasures.Cliff Weiss(Council candidate)My family and I have been a part of this community for a long time. I started skiing here in 1968 and moved to Aspen in 1974. My wife, Stacey, teaches music at Aspen Elementary School and sings with the Aspen Choral Society. We have an 11-year-old who attends the Aspen Middle School and benefits from all that Aspen has to offer. I graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and continued my studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York. For the last 30 years, I’ve worked in marketing and graphic design. For the last 15 years I have specialized in marketing resorts in Texas, Mexico and the Caribbean. I believe my career experience can be put to good use for the place I love most.After fighting to stop a four-lane highway from changing the face of our community, I learned that the values that I hold dear about Aspen are not necessarily the same as some of our elected officials. I’m running because I believe our elected officials should not force ideas and plans on the community when we are clearly divided. That’s the time to come up with more ideas that more of us can support. I feel the community needs someone with new ideas who will appeal to a larger majority of the community. I ski, mountain bike and snowshoe frequently. More and more, I find myself climbing trails only to find a big house when I get to the top. My mantra is that our open space is a non-renewable commodity like oil.Use it up, and we reduce the quality of life and our guests won’t want to visit. Aspen’s highest priority has to be to preserve places like Smuggler and Shadow mountains, and all the other open spaces close to the city.
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