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Klanderud will seek third term

Janet Urquhart

Mayor Helen Klanderud intends to support Aspen’s controversial Burlingame Ranch housing if she’s elected to a third and final term as mayor in May, she said today.

Klanderud confirmed her candidacy ” an announcement that came as a surprise to no one ” during an informal press conference this morning at a local coffee shop.

The mayor is the first council member to announce a bid for re-election; term limits allow her to seek one more two-year term at the council helm. Also up for re-election is first-term Councilman Tim Semrau. Councilman Terry Paulson’s seat is up for grabs, as term limits will force him out of office.

Paulson does have the option of running for mayor. Klanderud handily defeated both Paulson and challenger Andrew Kole in the mayor’s race two years ago, winning with 62.6 percent of the vote.

Later that year, she broke the election vow she made in her first campaign, in 2001, when she said she’d follow the will of the electorate on Burlingame. The controversial housing project was endorsed by city voters in August 2000; Klanderud fought against it in that campaign.

When the council voted 3-2 to move forward with the project in December 2003, Klanderud voted against the project despite her earlier pledge.

“Two years ago, the decision to not build Burlingame was still there to be made,” she said today. “It’s been made.”

Now, Klanderud said she’ll back the project ” as she has done in most votes since then ” and she renewed her vow to make the housing project the best it can be. She said she doesn’t support the pair of initiative petitions currently being circulated that could upend Burlingame and affect future housing projects.

To unravel the project now, with final designs under way and infrastructure already constructed, would be “a very bad thing for this community,” she said.

Klanderud said she’d also like to follow through on other city initiatives, which have included the loosening of regulations and ongoing plans to revitalize the downtown core with physical improvements and other efforts.

“There are a number of ideas still on the drawing board,” she said. “I want to continue to implement or at least review those ideas that haven’t been implemented yet.”

But she also called for striking a balance between making changes and maintaining Aspen’s character.

On the subject of Base Village in Snowmass, Klanderud was mum.

The proposed transformation of the base of the Snowmass Ski Area is up to Snowmass Village voters, and Klanderud declined to take a position on that controversial project.

But that doesn’t mean Aspen shouldn’t brace for the fallout of Snowmass’ decision, she added.

“I think we need to anticipate what impacts it will have or could have on the city of Aspen,” Klanderud said. “Whether it proceeds or does not proceed, it will have impacts.”

Klanderud, who is 67, said her next term as mayor will be her last on the council, if she prevails in the spring. She could then seek a council seat, but said that is not her intention.

“Six years is a good term of office,” she said.

Semrau and Paulson could not be reached this morning for comment on their intentions, though both men recently told The Aspen Times they had not yet decided on a course of action in the spring election. Semrau said he would wait to see what other candidates come forward; Klanderud is the first.

Councilwoman Rachel Richards, in the midst of a four-year term, could challenge Klanderud for the mayor’s post and still retain her council seat if she lost. The former mayor lost the post to Klanderud in a tight runoff election in 2001, but was voted back onto the council in 2003. Richards recently said she had not yet given the spring election any thought.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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