Kirshen exits council race |

Kirshen exits council race

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

There is one less candidate running for Aspen City Council.

Vitashka Kirshen dropped out of the race on Tuesday, saying that “after thoughtful reflection, I have made the decision to withdraw my candidacy.”

In a statement given to The Aspen Times, Kirshen did not specifically explain why she was dropping out, but did say that she supports council candidates Lisa Markalunas, Rachel Richards and mayoral candidate Terry Paulson.

Other candidates in the field for council still include incumbents Tom McCabe and Tony Hershey and challengers Pepper Gomes, Tom Peirce, Torre and Cliff Weiss. Also running for mayor are incumbent Helen Klanderud and challenger Andrew Kole.

Kirshen is the second candidate to drop out of the race. Aspen attorney Bert Myrin, who was among the first challengers to declare his candidacy, stepped out of the race on April 10.

Myrin’s name does not appear on the city’s ballot, but Kirshen’s will. In fact, it already has, for anyone who has taken the opportunity to vote early. She pulled out of the race after the ballots were already printed and early/absentee voting already under way.

Recommended Stories For You

In her letter, Kirshen said, “I am grateful for all the unanticipated support and enthusiasm of friends and new acquaintances who felt, as I do, that some changes in leadership, policy and programs are urgent if we are able to move forward together.”

And she said, “I hope that my many supporters will cast their votes for Lisa Markalunas and Rachel Richards, who share my deeply-held views on how to preserve the character and spirit of this special place we call home.

“Of course,” she added, “it would also be very helpful to have Terry Paulson as the new mayor and a newly-composed City Council less devoted to the manners and manors of the wealthy, and more concerned about the pressing housing, transportation, medical care and other needs of struggling, stretched-out, stressed-out folks.”

Kirshen, who is 75, also said she thought “bringing an experienced, senior voice” to the council would help foster “calmer deliberations” and “mutual respect.”

But she has now indicated that her voice will not be heard at the council table, no matter the outcome of the election.

The remaining roster of candidates is expected to face off in several forums this week, including an election forum at Paepcke Auditorium on Thursday, April 24, from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. The forum is hosted by The Aspen Institute, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and Roaring Fork Leadership (formerly Leadership Aspen).

On Friday, the traditional Squirm Night will take place in the City Council chambers and be broadcast live on GrassRoots TV. Council candidates will be grilled from 5 to 7 p.m., followed by the mayoral candidates from 7:30 to 9 p.m.