Glenn Rappaport understands Basalt
Since I was a teenager, I’ve spent many evenings at the kitchen table, talking with Glenn Rappaport about Basalt politics. Having done so, you’d think I would have the good sense to avoid becoming his campaign manager when he decided to run for mayor. Glenn is the ultimate anti-sound-bite politician: His positions are nuanced, thoughtful and adaptable to circumstance. He listens more than he talks, and he is open to your perspective. In short, he is a campaign manager’s nightmare.
Yet I’m repeatedly amazed at just how much Glenn cares about Basalt. He’s the man for his time and place, and his vision for the town has been so incredibly consistant, I can recite it from memory: a compact downtown core full of mixed-use and live/work buildings, surrounded by open space; a diverse social fabric; and a vibrant arts and culture scene.
Glenn uses the term “messy vitality” and always has been determined to manifest that idea in Basalt. Those two words, for many of us, encapsulate our aspirations for the mountain towns that we call home.
When I returned to Colorado after college, I didn’t move back to Basalt. The reason was simple: Basalt, in the main, is a bedroom community. (One city council candidate aptly called it “the lost city” between Aspen and Carbondale.) To me, what’s so compelling about Glenn’s vision is his drive to give the town its own economic engines, its own identity and its own draw for young people like myself.
It is unsurprising that The Aspen Times neglected to endorse Glenn. Glenn is distinguished by his refusal to apply Aspen solutions to Basalt problems and by his belief that small-town government should be nimble and able to react quickly to changing economic and social circumstances. The editorial board of the Times seems to disagree.
Take Glenn’s view on affordable housing: Unlike Aspen, Basalt’s principal challenge right now isn’t housing. It’s jobs. Glenn is committed to affordable housing for the long term. But if onerous housing requirements are now discouraging vital, job-creating businesses from locating in Basalt (and they are), why not loosen them for the short term, while housing is cheaper, and then tighten them when the economy recovers?
Basalt’s ship of state is so tiny, it should be able to turn on a dime. In a recession, the first focus ought to be on the employment needs of Basalt residents. Glenn’s focus certainly is.
We have a real choice in this election. Will we continue Basalt’s legacy as a bedroom community, a place where an outdated, boom-time approach to government stifles good ideas?
Or will we embrace Glenn’s vision of messy vitality and a vibrant, diverse economy? With so much knocking at Basalt’s door, Glenn believes that this could be the town’s “Paepcke moment,” a chance to build a solid economic and cultural legacy for the long term.
Let’s vote for someone with the vision to see this through. Let’s vote for Glenn on April 3.
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Under bluebird skies with 160 acres under their boots, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders took to Aspen Mountain for opening day Wednesday.