Markalunas follows parents, declares for City Council race
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Lisa Markalunas, the daughter of two former Aspen City Council members, is following in their footsteps and will run for a seat on the council this May.
Markalunas, 38, spent three years on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. She said she is running because current council members have “lost their sense of direction” and should concern themselves with restoring the town’s vitality.
That includes providing the town’s employees with enough affordable housing to meet demand, Markalunas said, but also recognizing the impacts of affordable housing on open space and density, just like any other private or free-market development.
“I grew up in an Aspen that had working people in every house of the West End, so I can appreciate what that’s like,” she said. “But it’s a tough trade-off, and there are no easy answers. You have to make a call ultimately on where to put the housing, and how to incorporate that without overbuilding certain types of employee housing, and assessing when supply meets demand.”
Markalunas said her parents encouraged their children to get involved in the community. Ramona Markalunas sat on the Aspen City Council in the early ’70s, and Jim Markalunas during the late ’90s until 2001.
Lisa Markalunas, who works for an Aspen accounting firm, said she has “serious concerns” about the proposed infill legislation. The community character is not worth sacrificing to achieve infill’s goals, she said. But she added the community should be involved with the process.
“We need to make sure that all the aspects of that process are thoroughly involved with the public, and that the public is on board before infill is put into effect,” she said. “I do have a concern that the public is involved in any city process, and that public input is always solicited or encouraged by public officials.”
She said preservation of Aspen’s environmental amenities is important and that many options for mass transit in the valley should be examined, including light rail, gas/electric hybrid buses and private vehicles.
Markalunas also said she is in favor of keeping the S curves configuration for the Entrance to Aspen to preserve character, but would support putting a mass-transit solution across the Marolt/Thomas open space.
“Automobile and traffic congestion in town is a major, contributing factor to the destruction of our community character and environment,” she said. “Those are issues that need addressing, and it calls for a visionary solution beyond more asphalt.”
Markalunas was born and raised in Aspen, and graduated from Aspen High School in 1982. She received a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
She joins Rachel Richards, Cliff Weiss, Bert Myrin, Torre and Tom Peirce in the field that is challenging incumbents Tony Hershey and Tom McCabe for seats on the council in the May election.
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