Klanderud in the running for mayor | AspenTimes.com

Klanderud in the running for mayor

John Colson

Former Pitkin County Commissioner Helen Klanderud has made itofficial – she is running for election as Aspen’s next mayor.Klanderud joins incumbent council member Rachel Richards as theonly officially declared candidates for the mayor’s job, althoughothers are reportedly considering joining the fray. The latestlist of possible contenders includes former council member MaxMarolt and former Mayor Bill Stirling, although neither man hasformally declared his candidacy.Klanderud, 61, said she decided to enter the race because “I lovethis city, and I believe I can bring something to it.”Asked what issues she plans to focus on in her campaign, she launchedinto a broad-ranging critique of current city policies regardingeverything from long-range planning to affordable housing to transportation.”We’re been trying to preserve a dream of what we always were,”she said of local government and the local populace in general.”Maybe that needs to be re-examined.”This is particularly true of two issues that have been at theforefront of local politics for years – affordable housing andtransportation.”I think there needs to be more openness … to new ideas,” shesaid, noting that new residents “feel they’re not being heard… if they’re not on the same track that the [city] council ison. I think the rail is an example, and I think affordable housingis an example.”Citing the city’s recent decision to buy Bass Park for $3.5 millionand use part of the 18,000-square-foot site for affordable housing,Klanderud said she opposes using the land for housing. “I thinkthat should be kept as a park. I think we need those kinds ofplaces in town,” she said. She agreed, though, that the city shouldbuy the park, since it would otherwise be developed as luxuryhomes or condos.But, she said, she is solidly behind the local affordable housingprogram, even if she is a little uncertain about plans to buildup to 1,000 new affordable homes in the upper valley in the nextfive years or so.As for the proposal to create a commuter rail service betweenGlenwood Springs and Aspen, which has the unqualified supportof the current mayor of Aspen, Klanderud said she is not sureit is feasible.”I love the idea of a train from Glenwood to Aspen,” she said.But, she is worried about the costs and the ridership projections,which she said have to “make sense” before she will support theproject.”I am not convinced that, in the future, traffic’s all going tobe coming this way to work,” she said. With Aspen businesses relocatingdownvalley, and all the growth between Basalt and Glenwood Springs,there are fewer reasons for downvalley residents to get on thehighway and drive to Aspen for work, she maintained, so a railline may not be warranted.Klanderud owns her home on Riverside Drive on Aspen’s east side,and although she obtained a law degree in the late 1980s and early1990s from the University of Nebraska, is not currently practicinglaw.She also is a licensed psychotherapist and a former director ofthe local mental health clinic, back in the 1970s. And while shehas had a private mental health counseling practice in the past,she said, “I’m not working full-time right now.”She has been absent from local politics for more than a decade,since giving up her county commissioner’s seat in 1987 to runa losing bid for a seat in the Colorado Senate.But Klanderud remains active in community affairs, serving asPitkin County’s citizen representative on the board of the RoaringFork Transit Agency; as a board member for Roaring Fork LegalServices, Inc.; and as a volunteer at The Thrift Shop and forthe Response organization for battered women.She also has served on numerous task forces, including work onthe Entrance to Aspen issues and on revisions to the Aspen AreaCommunity Plan.She said she has yet to put together a campaign organization,but plans to pick up her campaign petition forms on March 15,the first day they are available.

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