It’s Kole for … council

John ColsonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Andrew Kole has made it official – he’s running for elective office once again, this time for a seat on the City Council, he said Thursday.This will be his fifth try overall for elective office. He ran for City Council in 2001 and 2005, and mayor in 2003. He also failed in a bid for a seat on the Aspen School Board in 2005.Kole joins the only other declared candidate for two open seats on the council, construction manager Dwayne Romero.”If no one else runs, we automatically get elected,” he said, adding that while he has run for numerous offices in the past, “maybe now I’ve served enough time,” as an Aspen resident since 1998, that voters will give him a shot.Kole said he would be formally declaring his candidacy on his Thursday night television show, “Dinner and a Campaign,” which is to focus on the city’s municipal election campaign season leading up to election day. This week’s show featured two candidates for mayor, Mick Ireland and Tim Semrau, and Kole said he would continue to host his show throughout the campaign season.Kole predicted in July that he would be running for mayor this year. But he decided Thursday to take the plunge into the council race instead, partly because he believes he stands a better chance.After the 2005 City Council loss, he reportedly said, “Obviously, I’m done running,” but in July, he denied saying that, explaining, “What I said was, ‘I’m done running unless I change my mind.'” As for that announcement in July, Kole denied that he specifically told a reporter he would go for the mayor’s job. Last year, a reporter quoted Kole as basing his campaign on a plan of “complete deregulation of the city’s affordable housing program. He called the system and its cap on earned interest unfair and unworkable,” according to an article in The Aspen Times.In a prepared statement that accompanied his announcement Thursday, Kole advocated several changes to the current affordable housing program, including a review of the current appreciation caps on sale prices of ownership units. Currently, affordable housing owners are limited to a price appreciation of 3 percent per year or the current level of inflation, whichever is lower.He also called for what he called a “trade-down program” to allow affordable-housing residents to move into smaller units more easily than they can now; increasing the maximum amount of capital improvements that certain affordable housing residents can recoup when they sell their units; and creating more rentals in the affordable housing inventory.He also indicated opposition to use of the Zupancis property, on Main Street next door to the Pitkin County Courthouse Annex, for additional county office space; and to the use of public money to buy expensive property in the city, such as the recent purchase of a $3.5 million home on West Hyman Avenue for conversion into four affordable housing units.And said he was “maybe” in favor of converting such public assets as the Red Brick Arts and Recreation Center ,and the Aspen Ice Garden into affordable housing.There are three declared candidates for the job of mayor – former Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland, former city Councilman Tim Semrau and current Councilman Torre. Helen Klanderud is leaving the mayor’s post because of term limits.John Colson’s e-mail address is