Aspen Times Staff Writer
Aspen City Council challenger Torre destroyed incumbent Councilman Tony Hershey by a 2-1 margin in yesterday’s runoff election.
Torre swept into office with support from 1,044 voters, exactly twice as many as the 522 who backed Hershey.
Hershey is the second incumbent to fall in this spring’s election. In the first round of voting last month, sitting Councilman Tom McCabe lost without even qualifying for yesterday’s runoff. Mayor Helen Klanderud held on to her seat, coasting to an easy victory last month.
The new City Council, which begins work Monday, includes Torre, Rachel Richards, who returns after two years in the political hinterland, Klanderud, Tim Semrau and Terry Paulson.
Torre appeared to be on the verge of exhaustion last night as a party to celebrate his victory kicked off at Jimmy’s American Restaurant and Bar in downtown Aspen.
“My day was filled with getting voter info, making phone calls, going door to door, and holding signs up on the streets to get people excited about the election,” Torre said. “I see that it worked.”
Torre attributed his overwhelming victory to a number of factors, including shifting voter sentiment and his own campaign.
“I give him credit – he ran a great campaign,” Hershey said. “I wish all five of them luck, because there are a lot of challenges in the near future.”
Hershey said the real losers in last night’s election were the voters who had backed him all along, including many local Republicans.
“What’s unfortunate is that there’s a group of people out there – clearly a minority, but a sizable one – who don’t have any representation on that council,” he said.
Although it’s clear that 32-year-old Torre motivated young voters with an energetic campaign, the faces waiting to congratulate him last night included some of Aspen’s most seasoned political veterans.
Bill Stirling, Sy Coleman, Jon Busch and Vitashka Kirshen, who entered and later withdrew from the City Council race earlier this spring, beamed triumphantly as they awaited Torre’s arrival at Jimmy’s.
“I wanted to show that seniors were for him too,” said Kirshen, an activist at the Pitkin County Senior Center. “I was ready to go out in the street and hold up a Torre sign myself.”
Torre will face some big issues when he takes his council seat, including a redevelopment proposal for the base of Little Nell, annexation of the Aspen Valley Hospital campus and, of course, the Burlingame affordable housing project.
“I’ve been reading the [City Council] packets,” Torre said. “I know what I’m getting myself into, and I’m ready.”
[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is email@example.com]
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