Former councilman Leavitt says Basalt mayor race needs slower growth candidate
A third person is contemplating a run in the Basalt mayor’s race this spring.
Former Councilman Rob Leavitt said he picked up a nomination petition Wednesday and will decide by Thursday, Jan. 16, whether he is officially in the race.
His primary motivation is concerns over growth and related issues such as traffic, parking and overwhelming the infrastructure and natural environment. He said he believes the entire Roaring Fork Valley faces growth challenges — including Aspen, Eagle County, Garfield County as well as Basalt.
“You can’t build your way out of a growth problem,” Leavitt said.
As a member of the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission, Leavitt has expressed concerns this winter during work on a master plan update that the process is geared toward high or medium levels of growth in the future. He believes low growth — lower than what’s been presented as an option — should be on the table.
“We’re being steered toward a growth pattern that’s more than people want,” Leavitt said. “Small should have been an option.”
The planning commission and Town Council will hold a joint meeting Tuesday to discuss the master plan.
Leavitt said he believes serving as mayor is probably the best way to “move the needle” on growth-related discussions. He served as a councilman from 2012 to 2016 but lost a reelection bid. He has said in the past he didn’t put enough time into the campaign.
Leavitt said he has talked to both men who have declared their candidacies for mayor — Bill Kane and Bill Infante. He feels he favors slower growth than either of them.
“I think people that want smaller growth need to be represented,” he said.
Current Mayor Jacque Whitsitt cannot run again because of term limits. Leavitt noted Whitsitt was elected twice on a slow-growth platform, reflecting the majority opinion in the community.
Leavitt, 55, is a ski instructor at Aspen Highlands and a general contractor. He and his wife, Erika, have two daughters, 14 and 16 years of age, who attend the Basalt public schools.
The town government’s relations to the schools would be another issue for him, he said. When he was on the council, he said, there was an annual meeting with the school board to discuss issues of mutual concern. He wants those revived.
Basalt voters will select the mayor and fill three council seats in the April 7 election. Three people have taken out petitions for the three council races. They are incumbent Jennifer Riffle along with Tiffany Haddad and Glenn Drummond.
Candidacies aren’t official until the nomination petitions are submitted to the town clerk and 25 signatures from qualified electors are verified. People have until the end of the day Jan. 27 to turn in petitions.
Last Friday, the Aspen Art Museum capped its second annual ArtWeek with a big fundraiser. The proceeds will help fund art education and accessibility for the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond.
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