City Council race expands by three
ASPEN The field for Aspen City Council mushroomed from two to five candidates Monday when Planning and Zoning commissioners Steve Skadron and LJ Erspamer and Aspen resident Michael OSullivan announced their intentions to run. The three latest entrants have picked up their petitions but still must collect at least 25 signatures, which the city clerk must validate, to enter the race officially. The trio joins developer Dwayne Romero and TV talk show host Andrew Kole in the run for City Council, which has two open seats.Steve Skadron Skadron, 44, has lived in Aspen for nearly 12 years. He owns his own advertising agency, Skadron Marketing Group, which he started four years ago, and he is in his fourth year on P&Z. The competitive marathon runner and Ironman triathlete said he decided to enter the race because he wants to build on traditional Aspen values and do what he can to reverse trends in the community that have spurred people to move downvalley. He cited a dearth of places to live and shop as the main reasons people have given him for making the move. Thats not a community, he said in a prepared statement Monday. Recent developments at the Hotel Jerome and Cooper Street Pier trouble Skadron, as well. I feel like the community sacrifices to enrich big business and special interest, he said. We lose hot beds. We lose locally serving retail. Were being pushed aside so a small crowd of wealthy citizens can benefit. Skadron named affordable housing, transportation and the mix of retail stores as issues he deems critical for the city. He would like to see the council require more affordable housing onsite in commercial developments and tighten cash-in-lieu regulations that allow developers to pay a fee instead of building required housing on site. As for the Entrance to Aspen, Skadron supports mass transit options over more car traffic, including rapid-transit lanes for buses and light rail once its affordable. Instead of the preferred alternative, he supports a split-shot that preserves nearly all of the Marolt Open Space or modifying the existing alignment. Skadron would like to protect locally serving business and foster a better mix of retail through zoning changes.LJ ErspamerErspamer, 62, moved to the valley in 1969 and is now a real estate agent with Aspen Land and Homes. He worked for 25 years as a ski patrolman, owned the now-defunct Colorado Riff Raft rafting business and helped get an ambulance service started in Snowmass in the 1970s. He has served on the accountability committee for Aspens school district and has been involved in laying some of the groundwork for the Aspen Recreation Center. Erspamer joined P& Z earlier this year. Ive been involved in different projects in the community, and I feel Im mature enough to handle this kind of stuff, he said after announcing he would enter the race. Erspamer said he is not agenda -driven, but rather hopes to bring different groups together to address issues such as the Entrance to Aspen, parking, traffic and infill. Ive been here long enough to know theres a process and a way of doing things, he said. I hope to be a voice of reason on bringing these groups together. Erspamer said the current council acted appropriately in imposing a moratorium to address problems with the citys infill codes, but he didnt want to comment on the changes until drafts of the new codes are available. Erspamer, who said he would like to see appropriate growth at a better pace, sees his current job as a plus, particularly when the city is brokering deals like the one to save the Isis Theatre. As a Realtor, I can probably bring a lot of experience to the council, he said. Having somebody in the industry would be a benefit rather than a drawback.Michael OSullivan OSullivan, 47, owns a painting company and a property maintenance firm. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2000, and incumbent Shellie Roy defeated him in the 2002 election for the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners. OSullivan said hes back in the mix because hes concerned about the lack of leadership on the council. He added: Theyve been very reactionary, and I didnt necessarily support the moratorium, but I understand why it exists. We do need to put the brakes on downtown development, and I would like to move forward on what the council is doing. OSullivan called himself a big supporter of affordable housing. I cant think of a project that Im against, he said. Even so, OSullivan said growth in both the private and public sectors needs to be slowed. Its a double standard for the government to put restrictions on so much private-sector growth, he said. OSullivan also said elected officials have moved at a glacial pace to find an Entrance to Aspen solution, whatever that may be. The preferred alternative calls for one dedicated lane of traffic and one bus lane, he said, and Id like to see HOV replace the bus lane. OSullivan said he is willing to compromise if thats what it takes to solve the issue that has polarized Aspenites for decades.
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