Improve Basalt’s future: Brandt, McBride and Whitsitt
The town of Basalt is fortunate to have a thoughtful and competent set of six candidates running for three seats on its Town Council. It was hard for us to pick three people to endorse from this group, but choose we must. We’re going with Garret Brandt, Peter McBride and Jacque Whitsitt.
We’re not recommending these individuals as the lesser three of six evils; we’re endorsing them because they strike us as even-handed, thoughtful candidates who truly care about Basalt’s future and believe they can do something to improve it.
We believe Basalt has reached a crossroads where, if left to the whims of the free market, it will become another collection of vacant, overpriced condominiums and trophy homes with little or no unpaved public open space on the valley floor between Fryingpan Road and the El Jebel stoplight. Think Vail.
Basalt needs a council that will shape and direct inevitable growth into the right locations, while seeking a healthy mix of commercial and residential square footage. The council’s job is not to stop development, but to steer developers in ways that will serve the town’s long-term interests, creating opportunities for middle-class workers and families to continue living in the midvalley and preserving the beauty that drew us all here originally.
Yes, this means a creative, activist council. It doesn’t have to mean an obstructionist council.
Whitsitt already has proven herself on the Basalt board; she knows the ins and outs of town government and supports the kind of “smart growth” that this newspaper believes in. During her recent hiatus from politics, she has served the valley and the region in other capacities on nonprofit boards, and is committed to making the midvalley a great place to live and work.
McBride grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley and has watched it change ” drastically ” over the last 20-or-so years. We liked his answers to questions in the recent candidates forum and our e-mail questionnaire; they reveal a person who is committed to the valley for the long haul and who wants Basalt to remain livable and affordable into the future. He supports a stronger effort from the town on affordable housing and a moderate, sustainable approach to growth.
This newspaper endorsed Brandt in the most recent Town Council election and we’re doing it again because he’s shown a desire for the job and a keen awareness of the tradeoffs and nuances of public policymaking. Brandt has indicated he’s more development-friendly than the existing council majority, but he’s also inclined to push developers for community benefits, to discourage sprawl and to foster affordable housing through cooperation with other government entities. He’s an independent thinker who will provide balance on this board.
Finally, we must note that Mayor Leroy Duroux is running unopposed and will almost certainly win another term. This is a good thing for Basalt, because Duroux is a lifelong Basalt resident and a fine ambassador for the town. Duroux’s steady hand and unwavering commitment to Basalt make him an excellent mayor.
The Buddy Program rang in the holiday spirit with their annual Gingerbread House Workshops in Aspen and Carbondale.