Ireland’s vision for Aspen
Editor’s note: Today, along with The Aspen Times endorsements, we’re running letters from candidates in the Aspen mayoral races. On Saturday, we’ll publish letters from the City Council candidates.
Aspen’s strength as a resort and an economy flows from the beauty of our natural environment and our small-town character. I have not and will never forget the care and kindness granted me after a serious injury last year and that experience has opened my eyes to what small town character really means.
My goal as mayor, if re-elected, will be to pass on to the next generation the beauty and opportunities most of us found here to live in a special place and have a stake in its success.
Aspen is an extended community. Almost all its members make extraordinary sacrifices to be a part of Aspen: Part-time residents pay a premium for property and make efforts to come here, visitors pay extra for travel and lodging and amenities, locals are familiar with the three-job lifestyle that makes it possible to stay.
Much has been written about “sustainability.” I believe that the community has embraced the notion that we should focus on bringing people here to share what we have, showing them an Aspen that is warm, accessible and welcoming. Our special events are an investment in re-orienting is away from boom-and-bust speculation to steady, moderate growth tourism. Build according to what our new guests need, not for an outside investor’s portfolio theory.
We can lead by example in the environmental arena that is the foundation of our tourist base. This means encouraging our residents to think about using less energy and producing more of what they need on site when possible. Our hydro plant, our utility rates and our energy code all are based on use less, reuse and recycling energy.
Finally, we need to continue to build community by encouraging local serving and tourist serving business in our downtown by modifying the land use code to favor that development. Diverse lodging will not happen unless we favor its development over speculative uses. And our housing problem has not been solved merely because only 35 people bid on a one-bedroom unit instead of the 72 bids we received on the same unit a few years ago.
I want to thank Andrew and Ruth for running for mayor. I know this is a difficult ordeal for all of us who earn our living in other ways, as do I. I also appreciate the many powerful ideas coming from the council candidates and incumbent Steve Skadron.
Please vote next Tuesday, May 3. I hope you will stick with my positive vision for Aspen’s future.
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