Early candidate bids take shape in Aspen May elections

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

First-term Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron said Thursday that he will seek re-election in May’s election, while former Councilman Derek Johnson said he is considering a bid for an Aspen City Council seat.

Skadron’s seat as well as the seats of Councilmen Adam Frisch and Dwayne Romero are set to expire in June 2015. Both Frisch and Romero, who are eligible for re-election, said they will take some time with their families before deciding on potential election plans.

“I have every intention to run,” said Skadron, who served four years on the city Planning and Zoning Commission and six years on council before winning the mayor’s seat in 2013. “It takes a term to figure out these jobs, and I had the benefit of serving on council, which has helped me in my role as mayor.”

An Aspen resident since 1991, Johnson served as councilman from 2009 to 2013. He and two other councilmen at the time, Frisch and Torre, ran unsuccessfully against Skadron in 2013.

“I’m considering (a run for council),” Johnson said, adding that he will discuss the prospect with family, friends and colleagues in the coming weeks. “I enjoyed my time (in office), and I’m thinking about potentially doing it again.”

Skadron’s predecessor Mick Ireland is eligible to run for council. Reached Wednesday, he said he won’t think about the prospect for a number of months.

“It’s possible,” Ireland said. “I sure am not going to commit to that kind of thing very soon, one way or another.”

On Monday, the council will decide whether to conduct the May 5 contest as a mail-in or polling-place election. With a mail-in election, which the council majority voiced support for Tuesday, candidates could pick up their declaration materials from the city as early as Feb. 2. The petition deadline to submit signatures from 25 registered voters would be moved up from April 5 to Feb. 23.

The potential changes are the result of the state legislature adopting two bills that affect the way municipal elections are conducted. In 2013, the state adopted House Bill 1303, which requires counties to mail ballots to all registered voters. House Bill 1164 was signed in February and provided for municipalities and special districts to conduct mail-ballot elections.

According to City Clerk Linda Manning, any future polling-place election would require sending notices via mail to every registered voter explaining that a ballot will not be received in the mail unless an absentee application is completed. For a mail-in election, every registered voter would receive a ballot in the mail and have the option of an in-person voting center.

On Tuesday, Mayor Steve Skadron spoke against the mail-in option, contending that voters casting their ballots in person is “fundamental to American democracy.” Councilmen Art Daily, Frisch and Romero all supported the mail-in option, as Manning pointed out that November’s statewide mail-in ballot election resulted in an overall 5 percent higher voter turnout in Pitkin County.