Election 2007: And then there were 12 | AspenTimes.com

Election 2007: And then there were 12

ASPEN If Aspen’s spring election is a stage, then it’s featuring “The Dirty Dozen.” A combined 12 people are now in the running for either Aspen’s mayor seat or a spot on the City Council, after three of those beat Friday’s deadline to submit petitions to the city clerk’s office in order to get their names on the May 8 ballot.Count television journalist Bonnie Behrend among those in the race for mayor, and gadfly Toni Kronberg and fitness club owner Hassen Dagher in the election for the two open spots on City Council. Behrend became the fourth candidate in Aspen’s mayoral race, joining City Councilman Torre as well as former Councilman Tim Semrau and former Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland.”I don’t have a lot of answers right now,” said Behrend, 52. “But I I have a lot of questions.”Behrend, in fact, came blazing out of the gate, ripping developers and accusing Ireland and Semrau of “nickel and dime” tactics. Behrend blasted Ireland and Semrau for focusing their arguments on the affordable housing program, while other causes, such as childcare, deserve equal attention, she said. “Aspen is in sad shape,” she said. “There are these rapist real estate developers who are buying everything, and they’re only giving back to the community when they’re held at virtual gunpoint. And Tim and Mick are nickel-and-dimeing our housing fund when Rome is burning.”She added: “It’s not that I’m against all development and capitalism, but it just has to be done to the city’s need.”Behrend said she decided to enter the race after “people asked me to. I was encouraged to run and now would be the opportunity to ask questions from the inside instead of from the outside.”Behrend most recently worked at TV Aspen as a news host, but resigned last month. She also worked at CNBC from 1998 to 2001, and has been fodder for the New York gossip rags, which had reported she and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg once had a fling.”We had been romantically linked in the press, but that’s it,” she said. In any event, Behrend said she learned from the best in Bloomberg.”There is not a better human being than him,” she said. “He had a great office environment.”If Behrend’s entrance heated up the election, then two folks who entered the City Council race – Kronberg and Dagher – added a dash of spice to it. Kronberg, 52, said she’s only missed two City Council meetings in 10 years. She also has frequently clashed with elected officials and bureaucrats, but said she feels a sense of duty to question city leaders. “I really have the best interest of the whole community,” Kronberg said. “Once I make a commitment I stick to it.”Indeed, Kronberg has been the voice of several campaigns, including her failed effort to thwart the Burlingame affordable housing project to her successful one to have the Aspen Chamber Resort Associations visitors’ center defeated. Kronberg said she supports affordable housing, but wants to use the city’s infill to satisfy that need. “I think the city’s in a really good place right now and my hope is to keep it in a great situation,” she said. “But my general thought is, I think the most important thing we need to stay in touch with is the Aspen Area Community Plan. We’re supposed to do things to the scale and character of our neighborhoods. We need development but we need stuff that’s in scale with our neighborhoods.”Dagher, who could not be reached for comment last night, also has been at odds with the city. Last month he sued the city in small claims court over what he claims was botched zoning enforcement by the city after he opened Hoss Fitness and Tan last summer.While the business is currently open, Dagher claims that the city’s temporary closing of his facility resulted in lost business. Other candidates in the City Council race include LJ Erspamer, Andrew Kole, Michael O’Sullivan, Dwayne Romero, Steve Skadron and Michael Wampler.On Wednesday night at the GrassRoots Television studio, debates will be held among the City Council and mayoral candidates, in what is known locally as “Squirm Night.”Rick Carroll can be reached at rcarroll@aspentimes.com.

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