Council candidates list their top priorities for Aspen | AspenTimes.com
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Council candidates list their top priorities for Aspen

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

With the May 5 election of City Council members, this week The Aspen Times profiles the nine candidates ” Michael Behrendt, Adam Frisch, Derek Johnson, incumbents Jack Johnson and Jackie Kasabach, Jason Lasser, Brian Daniel Speck, Torre and Michael Wampler ” in their own words. The feature wraps up today. Today’s question: Besides fixing Aspen’s economy, what would your top priority be as a council member?

The priorities are: first people, then the environment, then money ” but they are really all mixed up together. And much of it shows up in our land-use codes. The only good thing about this deep recession is it relieves us from development pressure. To get to right-sized development for our small town, our land codes must be re-examined for scale, height, mass and density. Those codes must be specific, reliable and understandable. PUDs and COWOPs shouldn’t be used to defeat our codes. Moratoriums and emergency ordinances are really poor public policy. Historical preservation shouldn’t be a “development opportunity,” which crowds neighborhoods, nor apply yet another layer of review on we citizens.

For the good of the community, instill financial responsibility in City Hall. Whether the issue is affordable housing, environmental initiatives, transit and traffic, or open space and trails, we must bring financial responsibility and sustainability to City Hall. For too long, the assumption was an unlimited amount of money for an unlimited time. With tax revenues plummeting across the board, Aspen must elect people who have the financial and budgetary experience to lead us through these challenging times and to make sure City Hall provides the services our community needs and deserves at a price we can afford. This will help preserve our special, small-town character regardless of the current economic situation.

It is important to understand that all of our community issues are interrelated. In these economic times we need to get back to our base of being a world-renowned community-resort and deal with the issues from this perspective. To place too much emphasis on one specific issue while neglecting others would be a mistake. I believe I have the broad-based experience and perspective to better address the issues of these times, understanding that all of our issues are complex and related, requiring thoughtful consideration.

If re-elected my top priority would be … (drum roll, please) a town band! We have two great parades a year, and we often do not have a band (unless we import one). It’s not like we don’t have the talent. So let’s make this “River City” a city with a band and that starts with B and that rhymes with V and that stands for Vote Jack Johnson!

I have been an affordable housing advocate since the ’90s, even though I am fortunate to own in the free market (albeit, first with four other owners and now with one). We must come up with innovative solutions regarding capital reserves for our aging affordable housing stock. Even though the city has no ownership interest in these properties, we do have an interest in protecting them as a very important community asset. It is also time for an extensive policy and organizational review of APCHA. In spite of conscientious efforts by the authority, our guidelines have too many layers and can be reorganized, condensed and clarified, making the system more functional and understandable. I would also recommend community dialogue on the virtues of renting vs. owning.

Protecting our environment. Global leadership in the “New Energy Economy” could be the cornerstone of the world-renowned “Aspen” brand ” many local companies contribute greatly already; for example, RMI, AGCI, Skico, the Institute (AEF), and yes, especially the local government, the city of Aspen ” the ideas that originate here have an impact on the world. What better place than Aspen to set the pace for economic recovery by adapting our behavior both short term and long range, continuing to push the envelope with sustainable technologies that are environmentally and economically sound ” local and global ” with our buildings and in our solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal systems.

It is pretty clear what voters are asking for. It is my intention to get us there as efficiently and quickly as possible. After almost five years on the planning and zoning committee I understand much of government. Some of those priorities would be:

1. Work to streamline the zoning codes so there is a clearer, more efficient process.

2. Build consensus and addressing the voters’ will in terms of a responsible budget.

3. Seek new, innovative ways to create more affordable housing, more rentals and a program that is sustainable.

4. Work toward a more aggressive construction management program. For example implementing “completion bonds” to be certain buildings do not sit empty and unbuilt (i.e. Stage Three).

5. Work with intent and care to be a marketing ambassador for Aspen, wherever I am, being inclusive, humble and always seeking opportunities for Aspen and its residents to be better!

6. Continue to be a conscious “steward” of our environment and nature. Implementing policies which support our “shared” values.

I am asking for your vote to work for you to maintain and enhance this amazing town we all love. My top priority is to bring energy, openness and vision to represent you and Aspen. If you want to maintain Aspen’s small-town character, limit growth but accept appropriately scaled, community beneficial redevelopment, please vote Torre for council. I have and will work diligently on environmental leadership, strengthen a nurturing community for families and all citizens, foster a prosperous, sustainable resort community, and make sure we focus on every Aspenite’s quality of life. Now, more than ever, we need to respect Aspen’s history and have a vision for our future.

My top priority would be to restore confidence in City Hall and City Council. Our town is very polarized right now, and I feel that the us vs. them has to find some common ground in the middle. With the economy affecting us all, it is the perfect time to unite together and find a balance that is lacking at the moment. Without this, we will continue to work in different directions instead of having a common goal ” which is to make Aspen a better town for all. Transparency, openness, common sense, and being truthful are qualities I possess.


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