Carbondale candidates speak their minds
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE ” An audience of about 50 Carbondale residents came out Wednesday night to hear the pitches of eight people who are vying for four open seats on the Town Board of Trustees.
Questions posed to the candidates at a candidates’ forum covered a broad range of subjects, including affordable housing, building a better relationship with the town’s Latino community and a possible Roaring Fork Transportation Authority feeder bus service in the town.
However, affordable housing consumed a large part of the forum.
Candidates Ed Cortez, John Hoffmann, Sean Keery, Barry Maggert, Frosty Merriott, Brent Moss, Don Van Devander and Pamela Zentmyer tried to answer questions to the audience’s satisfaction at the Town Hall gathering.
All the candidates are seeking four at-large seats in the city’s April 1 election. The top three vote-getters will earn a 4-year term on the Town Coard, while the fourth-place finisher will earn 2-year term. Cortez is the only incumbent seeking re-election.
Much of the first part of the forum centered around affordable housing. One proposal currently being floated in town is to increase the affordable housing-mitigation requirement ” or the number of deed-restricted units in a housing development ” from 15 percent to 20 percent or more.
“What is affordable housing?” Cortez said. ” To me affordable housing is a unit that most anyone can afford. We are dealing with (housing prices) that seem so high.”
Cortez said he feels the town needs to work with Garfield County and other municipalities for a regional housing authority.
Moss also said the town needed to partner with communities like Aspen and companies like Aspen Skiing Co. to develop affordable housing and come up with Carbondale-centric ideas.
Van Devander said it was important to work with other organizations in the valley for affordable housing, including the county, but said town leaders needed to focus on Carbondale first.
“Are we trying to solve a valley affordable housing issue?” Van Devander said. “Or are we trying solve a Carbondale affordable housing issue? We need to get hard numbers (about affordable housing) done in Carbondale.”
A question submitted to the candidates asked if there was too much affordable housing in the town. Almost all the candidates laughed at the question.
“No, I don’t think we can have too much affordable housing here now,” Merriot said.
When asked if town employees deserve priority for affordable housing developed by the town, opinions differed. Zentmyer said if the town takes on the responsibility and building of affordable housing units, “it would seem the town has an obligation to pass” that on to city staff.
Candidates also differed on the possibility of RFTA developing feeder bus service in Carbondale. Maggert said such a service seems “way out of scale for our town.”
“If there are people who feel it is necessary, I am behind it if tickets sales pay for it 100 percent,” Maggert said.
And, though candidates fielded questions about what the town could do to foster better relations with the town’s Latino community, no one in the audience appeared to be of Latino descent.
“We need to build relationships,” said Keery, offering ideas like working with the area’s schools and nonprofits. “I don’t know if it is the town’s responsibility, but we can definitely build better bridges.”
The Buddy Program rang in the holiday spirit with their annual Gingerbread House Workshops in Aspen and Carbondale.