Debate highlights issues in Snowmass Village election
October 13, 2006
A few dozen people gathered in the Snowmass Town Council room at noon Thursday for a debate among a mayor running unopposed and three people vying for two council seats. On the table for discussion were traffic, the Base Village development, upcoming approval process for Snowmass Center, a commercial monopoly in town, the hiring of a new town manager and other hot topics.
Two incumbents – Arnie Mordkin and Bill Boineau – are vying to keep their council seats over a formidable younger opponent, Reed Lewis. And while a few people almost ran for mayor, Douglas “Merc” Mercatoris’ candidacy is unopposed. “I had hoped there would be more choices, more candidates,” said Jeff Tippet, a former mayor of Snowmass Village. “We have three incumbents running, and we know what to expect from them. Reed Lewis is likely to change the balance if he gets elected. I can remember times when we had 18 people running for Town Council. I just think that the last two councils have so lowered the office that no one wants to be part of it.”
The four candidates sat along a table in council chambers. Mordkin sat on the left with his signature cowboy boots, legs crossed and often leaning back in his chair. Next over was Boineau, leaning back in his chair with his leg up on his knee. Reed sat in the middle, looking alert and much younger than the other candidates. Finally, on the far right was Mercatoris. Both Mordkin and Boineau have significant public service to fall back on, with each being in Snowmass for about 30 years. Mordkin has served as a town councilman for six years and Boineau, on top of his experience on the council as mayor pro tem, is also the assistant battalion chief in the fire department.
Both incumbents, Mordkin and Boineau, were able to go into more detail with specific answers to questions. Lewis, on the other hand, played to his youth as a strength, saying time and again that the council needs new blood and fresh ideas.One telling moment of the debate was when Snowmass Sun reporter Steve Alldredge pressed Lewis on specific ideas he had that were different from those of the other candidates.
“Not off the top of my head,” Lewis responded, but he did provide some different answers to other questions than the two other candidates.At another point, both Mercatoris and Boineau said the Town Council was a very open local government, while Lewis said the board needed to be more open about decisions and about when important things were coming up on the agenda.
“There’s a lot going on [in Snowmass Village] but there isn’t a lot that anyone new could change out there,” said The Aspen Times columnist Roger Marolt, who was asking questions at the debate. “I don’t think anyone is realistically expecting anything to change from the course we’ve already set.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org