City should tighten the screws on those seeking public office
The debacle over Toni Kronberg’s alleged residency would not have sparked an Aspen City Council executive session Tuesday had some adequate measures already been in place.Like all candidates for City Council and mayor, all Kronberg had to do earlier this spring to qualify for the election was gather 25 signatures and sign a sworn affidavit on her candidacy application saying she has lived within Aspen city limits for the past year. She did not have to produce any proof of residency, such as utility bills, voter registration, or a lease, etc.And by signing the dotted line, Kronberg was in the race for council. It was that easy.We won’t use space here to argue the merits of Kronberg’s candidacy. Instead, our gripe is regarding the requirements, or lack thereof, to actually run for an elected office in Aspen.For sure, it’s easier to run for mayor or a seat on City Council than it is to collect the annual city food-tax refund of 50 bucks. To reap the food-tax benefit, Aspenites must provide the city with at least one document proving their residency of at least one year – voter registration, a lease agreement, a utility bill (from January and December of the year of said residency) or a canceled check (from both January and December).And when it comes to qualifying someone for the food-tax rebate, the city does not accept written notes from landlords, P.O. addresses, tax returns, driver’s licenses or paycheck stubs.Why not hold those running for elected office to a similar standard?We believe employing the same food-tax qualification process for potential city candidates, or something similar to it, is hardly draconian. Instead, a simple step like this would muffle the he-said, she-said drama surrounding a candidate’s residency. There would be no second-guessing, executive sessions, investigations and all the other hoopla that we’ve recently witnessed. At the very least, potential candidates could provide their voter registration to qualify to run for office. But for the requirement to be a mere signature on an affidavit can set the stage for the exploitation of an honor-based system. If anything, the Kronberg controversy is something from which we can learn. We should seek a higher standard to run for office and maintain the integrity of our electoral system. The Kronberg saga is proof of that, and a waste of taxpayers’ money on our bureaucrats’ time.
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No official vote has taken place, but the Dillon Town Council has decided to push forward with an ordinance at a future meeting despite a contentious debate that clearly divided council members on the issue.