Fresh faces join Aspen City Council
The Aspen Times
Aspen gained two new faces on City Council in Tuesday’s election when Art Daily and Ann Mullins won seats handily.
Daily, a resident of Aspen for nearly 45 years, earned the most votes with 1,439. Mullins was next with 1,287. They both won four-year terms. Former Aspen Councilman Dwayne Romero came in a close third with 1,094 votes. Political newcomer Jonny Carlson, who acknowledged he had a lot to learn about city government, earned just 108 votes. The count by the city Clerk’s Office was unofficial. There are still 43 provisional votes remaining to be counted, and some absentee ballots with inadequate signatures can still be cured and counted.
Daily is a well-known attorney in Aspen who has avoided politics up to now. He said he has been considering a run for council or mayor for six years and decided that at age 72, he should run.
“The opportunity, if I’m going to do it, it had to be now,” he said.
While he is a new face on the council, Daily and observers of the election figured his name recognition helped him in the election. He remains a full-time, practicing attorney and is active in numerous community activities as the father of two teenage boys. Daily said his familiarity with people “had to have helped me.”
“There’s some stability in going with someone you’ve known for a long time,” Daily said.
While he was confident of doing well in the election, there was no way to really tell until the votes were counted, he said.
“My instincts told me I would do well,” he said.
Mullins, 64, is a longtime member and current chairwoman of the Aspen Historic Preservation Commission, so she is familiar to people who follow city government. She said she spent an immense amount of time knocking on doors, sending emails and attending events during the campaign.
“I learned so much about this city,” she said. “Even before I won, I thought it was a worthwhile experience.”
When asked to summarize her approach as a councilwoman, Mullins replied, “It’s back to my slogan: Fresh start, fair voice.”
Mullins said “more than a few people” told her during the campaign that she is a good listener. She plans to bring that skill to the council. She will be the only woman on the board. She vowed to listen to all sides when issues are debated before the council and make measured decisions.
“I didn’t come in with an agenda,” Mullins said.
Mullins and Daily received endorsements and help in their campaigns from Mick Ireland, who is in his last weeks as Aspen mayor. Ireland said he helped with “get out the vote” efforts — identifying likely voters and urging them to go to the polls.
Ireland said that the familiarity of Daily and Mullins with Aspenites helped them at the polls. His preliminary data on voters indicated that the average age of people who voted by absentee ballot was 55. The average age of those who cast ballots at the polls Tuesday was about 52, he said. Only 12 percent of voters were younger than 40, according to Ireland.
Romero, who served on the council previously but resigned in 2011 three months shy of fulfilling a four-year term, headed to City Hall after the election results were known to congratulate the winners. When asked if he had any idea why he lost, Romero said, “Candidly, Art and Ann were great candidates.” He said he felt Aspen would be a big winner regardless of the outcome between himself, Mullins and Daily.
“I’m actually jazzed for Aspen,” Romero said.
Daily and Mullins will be sworn in June 10. Daily said he will be prepared to address big issues that likely will come up within the next two years. One will be moving the affordable housing program “forward” — determining where it needs to grow.
Another major issue for the next council to address will be the proposed hydroelectric plant on Castle Creek. It will “inevitably come up again,” he said.
He favors an updated analysis of the proposed project before a council vote. While the hydro plant isn’t a critical issue for the council, it’s important for Aspen to get it resolved. The issues split the electorate in a November vote, with 51 percent opposed.
Daily said he believes he can help the council and community avoid the contentiousness that plagued the hydroelectric debate in 2012.