Columnist throws hat into ring | AspenTimes.com

Columnist throws hat into ring

John Colson

If Snowmass Village Mayor Doug Mercatoris decides to run for re-election, it looks like he’ll have at least one challenger – newspaper columnist Roger Marolt has thrown his hat into the ring.Marolt, in a telephone interview Wednesday, said he is “fed up” with how the town is being run, and feels the voters in Snowmass deserve a change from the current leadership and from what he feels is increasingly becoming a company town under the thumb of the Aspen Skiing Co.Marolt, whose column, “Roger This,” appears every Friday in The Aspen Times, was a guest on “The Andrew Kole Show” on GrassRoots Television this week when he made his announcement, almost by accident.He and Kole were discussing the day’s headlines, about the impending purchase of the Base Village development by an investment group, and the meaning of the deal for the Village.Marolt, 43, was bemoaning the situation, he said, when Kole suggested he should run for mayor in this fall’s village election, The seats of incumbent Mayor Doug Mercatoris and Councilmen Bill Boineau and Arnie Mordkin are up for election. Marolt agreed, and said he would do it, though he’s not entirely happy with his decision.”I think I’m insane,” he jokingly told a reporter, but he then added, “It gets to a point where you just get fed up, and nobody’s stepping forward [to challenge the incumbents]. I guess my real hope is that someone will call my bluff, and someone who really wants the job will step up.”But if no one does, he said, “I will do the job.”In an e-mail to the Times outlining his decision, Marolt wrote, “First of all, I want to say that I do not really want to be mayor of Snowmass Village. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the patience. I don’t have the desire.”But, I have reached the point where I just can’t stand what’s going on out there. There is no trust in the political process anymore. The village is one giant construction zone. Retailers are having their worst summer in history and the next few summers don’t show much hope either. The land use code has become a collection of suggestions that nobody pays attention to. Almost all of our retail space will be controlled by one company. The place is a disaster!”Although I have no political experience and probably will not be a very good mayor, things can’t get any worse than they are now in Snowmass Village,” Marolt continued. “The things that I bring to the table are that I’m honest and I’m severely disappointed in the political process over the past several years in Snowmass Village and I want to give the government back to the people who live there day in and day out.”Marolt told the reporter that one of his major concerns it that “the Skico runs that town, and they run the elections.”Stressing that he is not accusing the company of doing anything illegal, he said, the Skico “stacked” its employee housing with U.S. citizens last year just before an election on its Base Village development, and urged those workers to vote the company line. Usually, he said, the Skico’s housing is filled with foreigners here on work visas who could not have voted.”In a town where maybe a thousand people vote,” Marolt said, the Skico’s control of probably a couple hundred votes may well have tipped the election in the company’s favor.As for the full-time, non-Skico-controlled residents of the village, Marolt said, “They [the Skico] did not have very much support for Base Village, and a lot of people felt they were railroaded.”His goal, he said, is to restore voter faith in the village government by returning “integrity” to the land use review process, particularly in the area of variances he feels are too easy for developers to obtain. He also would analyze the affordable housing regulations to give residents “more opportunity to gain a little more equity” in their homes.Marolt said he has no “slate” of candidates to run with him, although he plans to work on it immediately.The election is Nov. 7, and Marolt has until Aug. 28 to turn in a nominating petition containing at least 10 signatures of qualified electors.According to the Snowmass Village town clerk’s office, petition packets for seats on the council have been taken out by three individuals, including the two incumbents. No mayoral petition packets had been issued as of Wednesday afternoon. The mayor can serve up to three two-year terms, while council members serve up to two four-year terms.Marolt, an accountant, is married with three children, was born and raised in Aspen, and has lived in Snowmass Village since 1992. He said his only previous experience in an elective position was on the homeowners association board at the Crossings at Horse Ranch.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com