Kruger appointed to Aspen City Council

Janet UrquhartThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Ruth Kruger

ASPEN – Local commercial real estate broker Ruth Kruger was chosen to fill a vacant Aspen City Council seat Friday afternoon after nine rounds of balloting.She is expected to be sworn in by a judge at an upcoming council meeting; however, the council is not scheduled to convene next week.Kruger, a former city Planning and Zoning Commission member, will join four men on the City Council who tried repeatedly Friday to select an appointee from among seven candidates (two others had withdrawn from contention). Kruger will fill the seat formerly held by Dwayne Romero, who resigned to take a job in Denver as Gov. John Hickenlooper’s director of economic development.The post is up for election in May, and Kruger reiterated Friday that she has no intention of running.”I’m just filling in,” she said. The term expires in mid-June.Kruger said her prior P&Z experience will give her a leg up when she takes office.”I can step in and already have the knowledge of how things work. I know the personalities … my learning curve is pretty much instant,” she said. “I think that probably was a great advantage for me.”The council tried, but failed, to choose from among the applicants on Tuesday. A three-vote majority was necessary. On Friday, four rounds of secret balloting failed to produce a winner. After suggestions from City Hall critic Marilyn Marks and Pitkin County Commissioner Rob Ittner on how to proceed, the council modified its approach. Members circled their three top choices on the ballot to narrow the field to Kruger, Cathy Markle, Cliff Weiss and Jag Pagnucco. In round six, the field was narrowed to Kruger, Markle and Pagnucco. Round seven produced a 2-1-1 vote, with no candidate getting the necessary three votes. In round eight, council members voted for their top two choices from the field of three candidates; Kruger and Markle advanced to a final round, with Kruger prevailing.Three council members agreed the ballots from all nine rounds should be made public. Marks made the request before the meeting, according to City Attorney John Worcester.Worcester advised the council that it could release the ballots or keep them secret. Only Councilman Steve Skadron advocated keeping them under wraps.Council members were issued identical pens and instructed to circle candidates’ names for each round, and make no identifying marks on the paper ballots, in an effort to keep them anonymous. They were shuffled at the end of the voting.The Colorado Constitution allows the council to use whatever method it chooses to make an appointment to a vacant seat, according to Worcester. “They could use a coin toss if they wanted to,” he said.Romero’s seat attracted nine applicants: Patti Kay-Clapper, Adam Frisch, Marcia Goshorn, Kruger, Markle, Pagnucco and Weiss, along with the two individuals who later withdrew – Howie Mallory and Dan