District 1: Mooney touts variety of experience
October 17, 2006
County commissioner candidate Tim Mooney doesn’t mind being unconventional: His campaign buttons read “Moon Me.”Mooney first drove over Independence Pass on a road trip from Pennsylvania in 1970 and never left. He fell in love with the town and cobbled together a life of part-time jobs and mountain adventures. As a bartender at the Jerome, Mooney made connections with the early trickle of Aspen gliterati and literati – he served Hunter S. Thompson as the Gonzo journalist conducted business from the bar. Mooney was a tour manager for both Jimmy Buffett and John Denver, and he became known as the “ski instructor to the stars,” with his own roster of high-profile clients. He later became a real estate broker and was a volunteer on the Planning and Zoning board for nine years.It is that love of the Aspen lifestyle and intimate knowledge of the resort industry that qualifies him as a commissioner, Mooney said.The Aspen Skiing Co. fired Mooney in 2001 after a controversy over his cutting trees to widen a trail on Ajax. Shortly after his departure, he ran against Patti Clapper for commissioner. When Clapper won with nearly 70 percent of the vote, Mooney turned his attention back to real estate.His run for commissioner in November is not a grudge match with Clapper, he said. He congratulated his opponent on her hard work for the county but said it is time for someone new.
“The criteria for commissioner has changed,” Mooney said.With his experience with Planning and Zoning, and his “diplomatic experience” as a longtime ski instructor, Mooney said he is the better candidate. He calls himself an ideas person – a businessman at heart – who loves making deals and getting things done.He called Clapper the “go-along and get-along candidate”: She goes along with the status quo, he said, and tries to get along with everyone. “I’m the guy that can speak their language,” Mooney said of big business, and the resort and hotel elite. “And we need to do business here.”Mooney called transportation and housing his two “Little Big Horn” issues. If elected, Mooney said he will try to expand affordable housing downvalley by allowing for amended regulations and broader interpretations of the rules. Mooney wants more funding for RFTA and for big business to pay its fair share – a place where his deal-making skills, he said, will come to play. Mooney admitted that the bottleneck Entrance to Aspen is a problem, but he does not want to invite CDOT to “bring on the asphalt” and make the city a mall. He said he is willing to debate and wants to bring a businessman’s solution to the problem.
One suggestion, Mooney said, would be to remove the sidewalks on Castle Creek Bridge and have three lanes of traffic with alternating two lanes in to town in the morning and two lanes out in the afternoon. There could be a new walking/cycling path across the Marolt Open Space.”This is leadership,” he said. “This is management.”On development, Mooney said, “Growth is out of control. We are selling out the lifestyle and compromising the environment to appease developers.”Mooney supports the new land-use codes that create “social accountability” for developers and regulate home size and development.In the past, he said, the rule was “what’s good for the resort is good for the community.” His plan is to turn that around to “what’s good for the community is good for the resort.” It is important, he said, to create an affordable, sustainable community.
Like Clapper, Mooney supports a real estate transfer tax in the county so some money stays in the general fund. He wants to make businesses and developers pay for their impact on landfills, pollution, sewage and runoff.”I want to do the right thing for the county and fight the good fight,” he said.Though the commissioners race is not by party affiliation – two Democrats, Rachel Richards and Jim True, are competing for the commissioners seat in District 2 – Mooney is a proud Democrat and wants to part of the “winds of change” running through the state and the country.”A lot of people don’t remember the life in Aspen that I do,” Mooney said. “I love my life, and I want to give back in service to the community.”Charles Agar’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.