City critic enters crowded Aspen mayoral race |

City critic enters crowded Aspen mayoral race

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Maurice Emmer

ASPEN – The burgeoning field for Aspen’s mayoral election got even more crowded Sunday with the announcement that retired certified public accountant and lawyer Maurice Emmer will seek the office.

Emmer, 65, has been a frequent critic of Mayor Mick Ireland and city government over the past two years. He was especially outspoken against the city’s push for a proposed hydroelectric plant on Castle Creek and even led a petition drive to overturn a zoning decision for the plant that resulted in the City Council’s placement of a ballot question on the project’s future.

In November, voters narrowly rejected the idea of spending more money on the plant, giving Emmer and other opponents of the project a victory – at least for now. City officials could resurrect the project in the future because the ballot question was advisory and not binding.

Emmer became the sixth person to announce that he will seek the mayor’s post – sort of. All four City Council members, including Adam Frisch, Derek Johnson, Steve Skadron and Torre, have declared their candidacies.

Planning and Zoning Commissioner L.J. Erspamer has said he likely will run for mayor, as well, but left open the possibility of a bid for council. He has unsuccessfully run for council three times.

Ireland cannot run for re-election because of term limits. He also is considering whether to wage a council campaign. Elections for mayor and two council seats will be held May 7.

In a statement, Emmer said he and his wife, Jamie, have been connected to Aspen since the 1970s, when they began to dream of eventually making Aspen their full-time home. They were homeowners and part-time residents for 16 years and became full-time residents more than three years ago.

Emmer served on the city of Aspen Citizens Budget Task Force in 2008. He is treasurer and a member of the board of Aspen Film, a member of the Aspen Rotary Club, a member of the Aspen Jewish Congregation and a ski ambassador on Aspen Mountain.

Since his involvement with the Citizens Budget Task Force, Emmer has been “a frequent observer of city government, publishing his commentary and analyses in local newspapers, and delivering public comment at council meetings on selected governance issues,” the statement said.

Emmer explained why he decided to enter the mayoral race.

“Aspen is a unique and wonderful city,” he said in a statement. “Our forebears created a special place with a diverse population, a place where we can balance a healthy lifestyle, a vibrant economy and stewardship of the environment. In recent years, Aspen’s government has strayed from the principles of the city’s constitution, the city Home Rule Charter. This has resulted in a government that is too isolated from Aspen’s citizens. I want to help change that.”

He further stated that the charter calls for a City Council of five equals: four councilmen and the mayor.

“It entrusts city administration to a city manager, not to City Council,” Emmer said. “It contemplates that council will rely heavily on the advice of dedicated volunteer citizen boards and commissions and the city manager for advice on council’s policy and strategic decisions.”

He said the city has strayed from following the charter and its guiding principles.

“As a lawyer I trust the law to guide me because much thought went into its creation,” Emmer said. “As mayor I would return the functioning of our City Council to its intended focus as mandated by the voter-approved charter: the creation of clear policy for the city manager, the city attorney, the city clerk and their staffs to implement. I would guide City Council to rely on volunteer citizen boards and commissions, not to re-create and overlap their functions.”

A candidate committee is being formed, Emmer said, with Neil B. Siegel and Yasmine de Pagter serving as co-chairs and Don Davidson serving as treasurer.

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