Candidates shine through cloudy election
The Aspen Times will endorse a candidate for mayor, but before doing so we’d like to say a couple of things about Aspen politics that have clouded this election – making it harder to discern the differences between the candidates.First off, we see the mayor’s race as a contest between two – Mick Ireland and Tim Semrau. There are two other candidates, – Torre and Bonnie Behrend – but neither has articulated a compelling vision for Aspen.Ireland and Semrau, on the other hand, have set the tone of the campaign. They have floated ideas, raised money and motivated supporters to write letters. Unfortunately, people on either side of this two-man race have often chosen to slam the other guy before supporting their choice.So, let’s state for the record that we don’t see Tim Semrau as an evil “developer,” and we don’t see Ireland as a communist overlord. Aspen politics often slide into lame-brained “good-versus-evil” arguments, and we urge voters to look a little deeper before casting their ballots.We’re endorsing Mick Ireland for mayor because he has a long and distinguished record as a public servant – on the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners and on numerous other boards and panels – attempting to solve local and regional housing and transportation problems. Ireland wants to fix Aspen’s broken entrance, believes in the local affordable housing program and has shown time and again that he will defend and protect “Aspen the community” while also respecting the needs of “Aspen the resort.” And spare us the blather about Ireland being a “career politician”; he’s vying for a job that pays a mere $30,000 and carries none of the perceived perks of state or federal office.Tim Semrau is a developer who specializes in affordable housing, and has proven himself to be a thoughtful and pragmatic public servant on Aspen City Council. Semrau brings a deep knowledge of Aspen issues and land-use regulations to the table, and he supports a transit-oriented solution to the Entrance to Aspen. If Ireland was not in the race, we’d endorse Semrau – because he’s smart, capable and cares about Aspen.The fundamental difference between Ireland and Semrau is philosophical: Semrau takes a market-oriented, private-sector view, while Ireland tends to see things through a government-oriented, regulatory lens.We’re going with Mick because we feel that big money and the demands of Aspen’s super-heated real estate market have taken a toll on the town. The only way for Aspenites to slow down the overwhelming march of money, jackhammers and dump trucks is by electing people who will, against the odds and under enormous pressure, put the community first. We’re going with the government guy. Vote for Mick Ireland on May 8.
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Renters in Aspen are facing rent increases this year but there are resources and COVID-19 relief available on the local, state and federal levels.