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Ireland for mayor

The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

In the annals of Aspen municipal elections, 2011 probably won’t be remembered as a hard-fought or lively election. There are issues to debate and problems to address, but the Entrance to Aspen isn’t bringing locals to blows, and there are no massive redevelopment projects to divide the populace.

Another way to understand the relatively placid campaign mood is that Aspen is doing fairly well. The recession is not behind us, but skier visits and sales tax receipts are up. Our world-class brand remains intact, and it appears Aspen will continue to thrive.

Part of the reason for this is vision. Through the recession, Aspen stayed true to the principles that make it a great resort and a great community, and those things will continue to move us forward. Despite pressure to skimp on service and quality over the last couple of seasons, Aspen’s ski resorts offered the same sterling experience, and skier visits climbed. Same thing with spending in Aspen’s retail stores and restaurants – we may never return to the wild-eyed economic pace of 2005-2006, but we’re moving upward.

This success is attributable, among other things, to a shared understanding of what Aspen is, to standards of service and quality that have set Aspen apart as a resort.

Similarly, Aspen didn’t abandon its standards as a community, despite pressure to loosen land-use regulations or dilute affordable housing mitigation rules. These are the guidelines that have preserved Aspen’s small-town character and its year-round community of working locals, even as real estate prices have skyrocketed and lured the world’s super-rich.

Again, we have vision to thank – the vision of local leaders who have struck a balance between the values of a high-end resort and a year-round community, and they have found a way to make both work.

Mayor Mick Ireland is one of those local leaders. He has worked in Aspen’s service-industry trenches as well as its government boardrooms, and embodies the values that define the town. His detractors claim that he’s stubborn, prickly and occasionally rude, and we don’t argue those points; but when it’s decision time at the City Council table, Ireland can always be trusted to act with the community’s broader interests in mind – not to grant individual favors or please special interests, but to protect Aspen’s long-term viability and livability.

Neither of Ireland’s current challengers, Ruth Kruger and Andrew Kole, have demonstrated anything approaching Ireland’s vision or dedication to Aspen. Kruger and Kole are well-intentioned candidates and good human beings, but they cannot hold a candle to Ireland’s tireless devotion to Aspen.

Ireland and his council colleagues have made questionable decisions over the years, and some of them have cost taxpayers money. But his legal savvy and tough negotiating stances have also saved the city money in other instances. And while he’s known as a warrior for Aspen’s working class, he has also gone to bat for the business community – helping to pass the recent Chamber-backed lodging tax and lobbying for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to pass through our town this summer. It’s also worth noting that he doesn’t run negative political campaigns or smear his opponents. Never has.

Vote for Mick Ireland for mayor of Aspen on May 3.


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