Holley, Paussa, Teague join race for Basalt Town Council
BASALT – It’s official: The Basalt Town Council faces a major overhaul in the April 6 election when there will be fresh faces in three of seven positions.
Gary Tennenbaum on Tuesday became the third incumbent to announce he will not seek re-election. Council members Chris Seldin and Amy Capron also are bowing out after one term of four years. The trio were elected as the “Three Amigos” in 2006.
“After talking to some of the potential candidates for the Town Council election in April, I feel confident that the council will be left in good hands,” Tennenbaum said in an e-mail sent Thursday to town officials and the media.
At least five candidates are in the race for the three seats. Anne Freedman and Glenn Rappaport declared their candidacies early in the race and have turned in nomination petitions to the town clerk. (They were profiled earlier by The Aspen Times.)
Jim Paussa also turned in a candidate petition, and Mary Holley and Karin Teague said they will run but hadn’t turned in petitions yet. Patrick Maley took out a petition but hasn’t made a definitive statement about the race.
Bud Eylar and Yalonda Long took out petitions but said they decided against candidacy.
The deadline for submitting petitions is 5 p.m. Friday. The last day for Basalt residents to register to vote in the election is Monday, March 8.
Paussa is no stranger to Basalt politics although he has never held elected office. He helped with the campaigns of the “Three Amigos” four years ago. He also rallied opponents of development applications such as the Roaring Fork Club expansion and the Willits Town Center expansion, both in Basalt. Both plans were defeated. He also was an organizer of opposition to Ace Lane’s Tree Farm project in El Jebel, which received first-round approval last year from the Eagle County Commissioners.
Paussa said land-use issues have taken a backseat in Basalt government because the recession has stymied development. He believes it’s a perfect time for the council to work on “good, positive things for Basalt.” He declined to name any examples because he said he doesn’t come with a specific agenda – other than to get residents engaged in governing in Basalt.
“I think I can help get a little collaboration going between Town Hall and the people,” he said. Paussa wants to be the conduit. Basalt has a lot of talented people whose skills can be tapped, he said.
“I’m not the smartest guy in the room,” Paussa said, “but I can identify the smartest guy in the room.”
He pointed to the work between residents and Town Hall to start the Basalt Sunday Market last summer as a prime example of the great outcomes of collaboration.
Paussa, 54, is a photographer who has been in Basalt for 12 years. (He has worked for the Times as a freelance photographer.) He ran for council six years ago but fell short by seven votes. He believes he has a better shot this time because he has been immersed in civic issues and has made a lot of contacts.
Holley, 45, is an architect and married mother of two young kids. She moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1987 and worked for several major architectural firms in Aspen. She moved to Basalt in 1998 and started her own architectural firm the following year.
Holley said she wants to keep adding the types of activities or places that make Basalt a great place to live.
“I’m interested in promoting more of a sense of community in Basalt,” she said, identifying community, family and sustainability as her areas of focus.
The Sunday Market and Wednesday night music performances sponsored by the Basalt Chamber of Commerce are the type of events she wants to foster – “more things that bring people together.” Adult sports leagues, like softball, are a possible addition.
As for nurturing family, Holley said Basalt is kind of low on park space. She wants to make parks a priority when developments get approved.
To promote sustainability, she is thinking in terms of economic stability and sustainable living. She doesn’t think Basalt necessarily needs to approve more development, but wants the town to find ways to be more “business friendly,” such as helping with additional events that pull shoppers and diners into town.
For sustainable living, she wants Basalt to encourage the blossoming home-grown food movement by helping establish a community garden at the old Emma store, a centralized location for the various sections of the sprawling town and a site with agricultural significance.
Holley hasn’t run for elected office before, but she did serve on the Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission from 1999 to 2001, when she resigned to have a baby.
Teague, also 45 and a married mother of two young kids, said she is running for office to help nurture community. Basalt is where she is raising her kids, running a business along with her husband, architect Harry Teague. And it is where she works in another part-time position as development coordinator for Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, a nonprofit that builds and maintains trails and conducts other projects on public spaces. She has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for 14 years and in Basalt for 11.
“I love this town. … It’s served me and my family well for 11 years. Now it’s time to give back,” Teague said.
She participated in community meetings last year that were designed to determine what people felt would create a more vibrant downtown in terms of activities and feel. Teague was part of a group that promoted the creation of a farmers’ market, though she stressed she wasn’t part of the later citizens’ group that implemented the idea.
The market was wonderfully successful, Teague said, and she wants to promote more cooperation between the town and residents on similar ideas and projects. The economic slowdown has created an atmosphere where residents can devote time to creating lasting community projects, she said.
Teague said the town can and should get involved in stimulating the economy. How exactly needs to be explored. She would like to find incentives to help landlords and businesses fill empty storefronts, and ways to entice midvalley residents to eat and shop more locally. Basalt needs to be a small town of opportunity rather than a bedroom community, she said.
Teague said she approved of the direction of recent councils, which concentrated on issues such as slowing growth and putting affordable housing regulations in place. But now, as a business owner, she understands how tough times are for Basalt residents.
“Now I’d say priorities may need to change,” she said.
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