Ireland announces re-election bid, two others join Aspen council race |

Ireland announces re-election bid, two others join Aspen council race

Carolyn SackariasonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Three Aspen residents on Tuesday announced their candidacies for the May city election Mayor Mick Ireland is seeking re-election, and Mike Wampler and Derek Johnson have thrown their hat into the ring for City Council.At midnight Tuesday, Ireland posted a video on his Facebook page announcing his bid. Twelve hours later, Irelands campaign treasurer, Ruthie Brown, sent out a text message to local political activists, inviting them to a press conference Wednesday when Ireland will formally announce his plan to seek a second term. Johnson, 41, is an 18-year Aspen resident and longtime business owner. He co-founded D&E Snowboard Shop in 1993, and in 2001, he sold it to the Aspen Skiing Co. He is now the managing director of rental and retail for the Skico.Wampler, 59, is owner of Aspen Velo bike shop, which he has owned since 1984. The 32-year Aspen resident ran unsuccessfully for a council seat two years ago. After losing the election, Wampler applied and was appointed to the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission, on which he has served for 1 1/2 years.I just wasnt ready, he said of his first bid for council, adding that he did not understand local politics then and had a busy personal life. But I feel I have the support now … I am not running to come in third or fourth like last time.Johnson has never run for elected office, although he has considered running for City Council for a long time, he said. He recently served on the Lift 1A task force, which created a master plan for the base of Aspen Mountain. Johnson said he was instrumental in restarting the Aspen High School football team, and has been a coach for eight years. He also serves on the board of the Snowmass Village Resort Association and is currently the treasurer.I feel it is my civic duty and community obligation to give back to the place I love, he said in a prepared statement. I am committed to making Aspen a place for the next generation of hardworking people a place to call home.As a father of two children, Wampler also said he is concerned about the future of young people here, and how they will be able to afford to live in Aspen after they return from college. Both candidates said the fragile Aspen economy is central to their motivations to run.And as longtime business owners, Wampler and Johnson said theyve got enough experience to help lead Aspen out of its economic problems.I believe my background as a successful entrepreneur and business operator in Aspen will help me address the needs and concerns of the local business community, Johnson said in the statement. The skills I learned and developed over that time will give me a creative and balanced approach to the many issues facing our city.Wampler said he began contemplating running again after the City Council in December projected a zero percent sales tax increase. He said he felt it wasnt realistic and that it proved that some council members are out of touch with the harsh economic realities facing local business owners. I thought it was shortsighted, he said. I proposed 20 percent.Wampler said the council needs to become a visionary, proactive, policy setting and balanced governmental board.Council needs to right size city government, become financially accountable, be totally transparent, set strategic direction and supervise staff to more professionally implement Aspen policy, he said in a statement. Wampler added that Aspen residents and their government are divided.Aspen, in general, needs to unite locals, second-home owners and tourists for a common cause, he continued.Johnson has enlisted local realtor Ernie Fyrwald to be his treasurer for the campaign, and said he has garnered the support of many politically active residents.Johnson and his wife, Kerri, have two children and are expecting a third at the end of the month.He said he expects his schedule to be hectic but is up for the challenge because Aspen and its government are at a crossroads.It needs to be smart, measured and considerate, Johnson said. This is an opportunity to be stronger, and we need to find innovative ways to get things done more efficiently.Its time to get real, get focused and get grounded.Wampler said as a bike shop owner, he interacts with about 50,000 people a year, including locals, tourists and second-home owners. And because of that, he said he has the pulse on whats happening and is more in touch with reality than most.Im an ambassador for this town, he said. I love Aspen.Johnson said the time is now for the community to band together, and with strong leadership, it can.Were one resort community intertwined, and we are all going to succeed or fail based on our ability to work together, he said. Im going to win because Im a nice guy and I listen.Up for grabs on May 5 is the mayors seat and two council seats; the latter are currently held by Jackie Kasabach and Jack Johnson. Both said they are considering running but havent officially announced.Andrew Kole has put his bid in for the mayoral seat, and Torre and Adam Frisch have announced their candidacy for a council

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