In Aspen elections, Mesirow is top fundraiser, Frisch top spender

Newly elected Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ $250 contribution to Skippy Mesirow helped propel the Aspen City Council candidate past his three competitors in the race for campaign cash during the first reporting period for the upcoming municipal election.

Mesirow topped his opponents, as well as the four candidates vying for Aspen’s mayoral seat, raising $12,604.98 in cash, as well as receiving $850 in nonmonetary contributions.

All told, Mesirow raised $13,454.98, with the 32-year-old candidate spending $5,012.72 during the first expenditure-reporting cycle, leaving him with $6,291.85.

Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch, who is running for mayor, topped all candidates in expenditures with $9,258.34 during the same cycle. Frisch also brought in $11,225 during that period, in addition to the $587.36 in funds on hand he carried over from his previous campaign.

Tuesday was the deadline for candidates to file their first campaign finance and expenditures for the March 5 municipal election. The ballot includes a City Council contest for two open seats, a mayoral race for the seat being vacated by Steve Skadron, who is term-limited, and a question regarding the development of two hotels and a ski lift on the western portal of Aspen Mountain.

In the race for City Council, former Aspen Mayor and Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards was second to Mesirow in fundraising with $8,800, securing donations from County Commissioner Greg Poschman ($50), former Aspen mayor and county commissioner Mick Ireland ($100), former Aspen City Manager Amy Margerum ($250), Sheriff Joe DiSalvo ($250), former Pitkin County Democratic Party Chair Blanca O’Leary ($250) and Jim DeFrancia ($250), one of the developers of the proposed Gorsuch Haus that is part of the ballot question.

Richards spent most of that — $8,198 — leaving her with $601 for the final three-week stretch.

Incumbent Councilman Bert Myrin raised $5,389 during the period, which he added to his leftover funds of $1,119.78 from his previous campaign. Myrin spent $3,312.59 with $3,376.12 remaining.

Among Myrin’s supporters are Commissioner Patti Clapper ($150) and two lodge owners — Terry Butler of Residence Hotel ($250) and Michael Behrendt of St. Moritz Lodge ($250).

City Clerk Linda Manning drew $3,409 in contributions and $200 in nonmonetary donations, spending $2,772.33. Manning received donations from Butler ($250) Lift One Lodge developer Michael Brown ($100), Bootsy Bellows nightclub owner Andrew Sandler ($250), Escobar lounge and Grey Lady owner Ryan Chadwick ($250), DiSalvo ($200) and political gadfly Maurice Emmer ($50).

In the mayoral contest, Frisch’s donors run the gamut, from Butler’s $250 to the same amount from both affordable-housing developer Peter Fornell and architect Sara Broughton.

Ann Mullins, who is midway through her second and final term as councilwoman, was second in the mayor’s race for campaign fundraising, bringing in $8,470 on top of the $500 left over from her previous campaign. Mullins reported having $299.52 in her campaign coffers after ringing up $8,670 in expenditures. Her donors included O’Leary ($250), former Councilman Art Daily ($200), DeFrancia ($200), Brown ($100), former Mayor Bill Stirling ($250) and Aspen Daily News columnist Lo Semple ($100).

The third mayoral candidate, Torre, a former councilman, reported raising $4,380 and spending $3,191.35. His contributors included Steve Goldenberg ($200), who has fought commercial and civic developments in town, as well as Tim Mooney ($250), also a slow-growther. Mooney also supports Myrin’s re-election.

Mesirow said he got to know Polis when the Boulder Democrat ran for Congress in 2008. Mesirow was a student at the University of Colorado at the time and volunteered for Polis’ campaign.

“We stay in touch, we talk semi-regularly,” he said. “Obviously I was supporter of him running for governor, and it’s great to have a resource and friend on the state level.”

The campaign contribution limit in Aspen candidate elections is $250, and Mesirow collected that amount from such Aspen notables as developer John Sarpa, Daily, former city of Aspen Community Development director and now private planner Chris Bendon, DiSalvo and Polis, who was elected governor in November.

Former Sheriff Bob Braudis also gave $25 to Mesirow’s campaign.

Other than mayoral candidate Cale Mitchell, who said he is not taking campaign contributions, the other seven candidates for the three open municipal seats have been spending their funds on yard signs, meet-and-greet social hours, campaign buttons and other means to get their word out.

Mesirow, whose expenses totaled $5,012.72 during the first cycle, also channeled his dollars toward social media and technology — including $250 for videography, and just over $1,000 for a text-messaging effort, among other expenses.

“We’re getting a ton of impressions,” he said, noting, however, that he would like to see Aspen lead the way in campaign-finance reform.