Basalt mayoral candidates weigh in on town’s direction
Editor’s note: The Aspen Times will run Q&A’s for the next several days with the candidates in Basalt’s April 7 election. Ballots were mailed to voters Monday. There will be three days of Q&A with the mayor candidates followed by three days with the six candidates for three council seats.
Aspen Times: Do you think the current council is on the right track on issues or is a substantial change in direction needed? Please give examples to back your position.
Bill Kane: The council has finally given final approval for the Pan and Fork project. This came after an inordinately long planning and review process, which was interrupted by public financing questions that dealt with land acquisition and financing of infrastructure. The plan was a compromise, which will preserve the majority of the site for parkland and yet allow some level of development and a site for a new Art Base. It is a compromise and as such won’t satisfy everyone but is the right direction for the town and I support the council’s decision. The council is also on the right track with the 2020 comprehensive plan update. The process will require more scrutiny of build-out projections with potentially more stringent land-use controls to manage the timing of development. I also support the town’s position on climate action and collaboration with Holy Cross Energy. These steps will allow our community to take a leadership role in climate change efforts and serve as a model for other small towns. I also agreed with the final position taken by council on the TABOR overcharge/refund. Given all of the options, it was the best and went a long way towards rebuilding trust with town residents.
Rob Leavitt: In many ways, I think the current council has done a commendable job reflecting the will of the people. Recent surveys show that a vast majority of Basaltines are concerned with climate change and sustainability. Our council passed a climate emergency resolution in 2018 and sustainability is one of the key themes of our new master plan. In support of this, I will not display yard signs in this election — they are a waste of resources, a blight on the landscape and end up in the landfill the day after the election. The master plan emphasizes such measures as public transportation and trails, preservation of our rivers, car and bike sharing, renewable energy, net-zero construction and much more. Recent discussions on council echo the growth and traffic concerns I have been emphasizing on P&Z. As mayor, I look forward to continuing these efforts and increasing the town’s focus on green building, fire mitigation and environmental stewardship.
Bill Infante: After two years on Town Council, Basalt is on the right track. In 2018, Council conceived its first plan in eight years that presents a long-term vision, sets priorities and provides the basis for sound budgeting. Over the past two years we have strengthened financial accountability and transparency that are critical to protecting taxpayers’ interests. The plan has four objectives: strengthening community cohesion and social inclusion, promoting the businesses that provide vibrancy and jobs, delivering a “green” agenda that reduces our carbon footprint and protects habitat, and sustaining the infrastructure that we depend upon every day. Elected officials are charged to protect the safety and financial interests of residents. As a town councilor, I have worked hard to strengthen financial controls and accountability. In turn, we found the $2 million TABOR snafu, sold loss-making properties that cost taxpayers $250,000 per year, wrote off millions of dollars of Pan and Fork improvements because, mysteriously, there was no contract to enforce. We segregated accounts and now know how much we spend on our priorities: affordable housing, child care, green initiatives and the arts. Having a plan and greater accountability means Basalt is on a very good track.
A local kid got on the X Games Aspen podium on Sunday night, but it wasn’t the one most people expected. Even Jon Sallinen didn’t think he’d be taking home a medal.