Election season has begun in Aspen
Nominating petitions are available for three seats up on Aspen City Council
It hasn’t even been a month since ballots were counted in a historic national election, but in Aspen it’s election season again.
Nominating petitions for Aspen City Council seats were made available Tuesday. Those interested in running for mayor or two open council seats have until Dec. 21 to submit the required 25 signatures of registered city voters.
“We suggest getting more than that because not everyone who signs the petition may be a city of Aspen resident,” City Clerk Nicole Henning said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, two people had inquired or picked up a petition by the clerk’s office, according to Henning.
She said emails to the Clerk’s Office can serve as signatures so candidates do not have to see people in person due to the pandemic.
The municipal election will be held March 2, and COVID-19 measures are being put in place, with the recent allocation of $15,000 toward such efforts.
That includes an outdoor ballot box that will be placed in front of City Hall on Galena Street. It is similar to the one that is in front of the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s office on Main Street.
The county clerk’s office is lending the city some of its personal protection equipment that it used in the Nov. 3 election, according to Henning.
Councilman Ward Hauenstein’s seat is up after serving one, four-year term.
He said Wednesday he has not made up his mind on whether he will run again to defend his seat.
When Hauenstein ran in 2017, he said he planned on serving one term, but with the pandemic and a lot of work left to be finished on some of the boards he serves on, including Community Office for Resource Efficiency, he said it’s worth looking at returning.
“I am carefully considering it,” he said, adding people have recently asked him to. “I’m inclined to run again.”
Henning confirmed that Hauenstein picked up a petition form Wednesday.
Councilwoman Ann Mullins is term-limited after serving two four-year terms. In 2019, Mullins was in the middle of her second term and ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Torre.
Mullins did not say whether she would seek the mayor’s seat.
The mayor’s seat, which is a two-year term and can be occupied by one individual for as long as six years before term limits go into effect, also is up in 2021.
Torre said his intention is to run again.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve been involved in politics for almost 30 years and making a positive impact to my community.”
Rachel Richards, a former Aspen mayor and county commissioner who is in the middle of her first term as a council person, said she does not plan on running for mayor.
“It is my intention to support Torre for re-election as mayor,” she said vial email. “He has worked hard and I believe he has done a good job under tough circumstances. He is patient with everyone and follows through on council and community concerns brought to his attention.”
Whoever takes office in June will make more than current elected officials as City Council is expected to vote next week on $1,000 month raises.
Council members make $20,400 annually and the mayor currently makes $27,900, plus benefits.
A majority of Aspen voters in November 2018 voted to change the election date from May to March after a group of residents put a citizen referendum on the ballot.
They argued the municipal election being held on the first Tuesday of May takes place when occupancy is at its lowest time of the year, therefore disenfranchising a certain segment of the population.
There are just over 8,850 registered voters in Aspen, which is about 2,450 more than in 2017.
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