Council hopefuls share thoughts on whether Basalt is on right track
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. Q&A’s with the mayor candidates ran March 16 to 18 and will now be 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.
Tiffany Haddad: The development at Pan and Fork is a good example to see how current council and previous council was off track on taking seven years to approve that development. I believe that we do need change. I know change can be scary but adding new ideas and fresh perspective to an already-established council would be beneficial. When it comes down to it, we all want to live in a community that is safe, healthy and sustainable. That said, we still have division and I believe some of that is created from our current council. In order to have a progressive council, we must work together to move forward on issues. We aren’t always going to get what we want or agree with but that is why there is compromise. I have a son that is a freshman at Basalt High School. The motto there is: We are one town — We are one team — We are one dream. If we could all come to this realization, we could get a lot more done.
Elyse Hottel: Being a member of a Town Council is not a position to be taken lightly — something I’ve grown to appreciate through this process. From liquor licenses to development decisions to leash laws to recycling centers, councilors are expected to be good stewards for their constituents. The hard part is knowing what the community thinks about issues in order to appropriately represent them, and with limited avenues for public comment, sometimes those wishes do not get through to those making the decisions. Councilors cannot have personal agendas and every day is about compromise. If I only accomplish one thing in office (although I sincerely hope that is not the case!), I will consider it a huge win to expand the channels of communication between council and the community. The current council has had to become a leader in transparent governance, refunding the TABOR error, approve key developments from the Pan and Fork to the TACAW campus to Skico affordable housing, consider a child care facility in Willits, approve the Basalt Master Plan, contemplate the introduction of pot dispensaries and tobacco taxes, and reconcile a post-fire shooting range’s place here. Imagine how effective we will be when we hear you!
David Knight: The current council presided over a community divided over issues such as the Pan and Fork parcel. They were successful in resolving that issue and will likely soon adopt a new master plan before the next council is elected. The next council will have new members and therefore a new perspective. The next council will need to be focused on bringing the community together to focus on the next set of issues including finding a solution for the Clark’s-BCC parcel.
Jennifer Riffle: As the incumbent seeking your support for another four-year term, I am quite proud of the accomplishments our town and governance have accomplished. In four years, we as a community have survived natural disasters, built the pedestrian underpass at Southside, restructured the executive staff of Town Hall with phenomenal talent, boosted financial reserves, increased early childhood education funding, participated in capacity studies, partnered to build estimated 50-plus affordable housing units and approved development on the Pan and Fork Parcel. Is there room for improvement? Always! Pursuing a town circulator, financial stability, collaborating for multi-generational recreation opportunities, further embracing the “We are one Basalt” message, increasing trail connectivity, disaster resiliency and protecting our natural environment are vital. Thankfully, all these but two (town circulator and recreation beyond trails) are action items listed within the Strategic Framework — which is our work-plan for the future. We are prepared for financial downturn after lessons from the previous recession, rest assured. With our efficient staff now stable, we can increase digital format survey public feedback opportunities and strengthen working relations to collaborate more with our municipal engaging partners. Strengthening the common ground we share is imperative. The future is bright for Basalt!
Kirk “Dieter” Schindler: The current council did a lot of heavy lifting such as approving the Pan and Fork plan, balancing the budget and building back reserves, addressing transparency, correcting past TABOR issues through the 3A ballot measure, and presenting a strategic framework for the Town’s future. From where Basalt’s affairs came from six years ago, yes, I do think the current council is on the right track and believe continuing this momentum will benefit Basalt’s future.
Glenn Drummond: Yes, I do feel that current council is on right track. They have managed to: correct a Tabor issue with 62% of the population backing the plan, approve a decent development project for the Basalt River Park, complete the underpass at highway 82, navigate and deal with a wild fire and post flooding that threatened the town, approve Skico employee housing, approve Habit for Humanity housing that is 100% sustainable, implement Arbaney park pool improvements, create standard working agreements for all volunteer committees to support increased productivity in working with staff and council. This is just to list a few of their achievements, I think all citizens should say thanks to our current mayor and Town Council. They have done a great job of showing what can be accomplished by working together.