Marks wants it both ways

Dear Editor:

I write in response the letter The Aspen Times published by Ms. Marilyn Marks in the Sept. 28 edition.

My comments are my own and are not the product of any Election Commission discussion of any kind.

The apparent intent of her letter is to suggest that Aspen city elections are flawed beyond hope. I have spent more than a little time reviewing the May 2009 election and its aftermath. There are some areas that could be improved upon. The Election Commission (EC) is in the process of suggesting improvements.

To suggest that Aspen elections are meaningless is irresponsible by Ms. Marks. Perhaps if she had won in May 2009 she would not feel this way. She seems to believe that the only way an Aspen election will “have an impact at Aspen’s ballot box” is if “major reform [are] forced by activists,” read Ms. Marks. Do the people of Aspen really think that Ms. Marks should force her major reforms on the electoral process? To me that is undemocratic and dangerous.

Specific responses to statements in her letter follow.

• There is no growing list of irregularities.

• The Election Commission (EC) was not able to meet to discuss complaints because the district attorney – at Ms. Marks’ instigation – was engaged in an investigation that prevented city staff from participating while the process played itself out.

• Ms. Marks has attempted to redirect the energies of the EC away from reviewing complaints on the May 2009 election. As I predicted she is now disparaging the EC for making “scant progress.” Ms. Marks cannot have it both ways. She derails EC progress with DA investigations and attempts to redirect the focus of the EC, then complains about a lack of progress.

• I do not know how Ms. Marks defines a “political environment” that she feels is too challenging to the EC to operate in. To me it seems that Ms. Marks feels that any decision contrary to her preferred decision is the result of political pressure from some undefined party. There have been absolutely no attempts by any politically elected person or city staff to influence the EC. Indeed, the only person attempting to influence the EC is Ms. Marks. I can imagine the uproar by Ms. Marks if an elected official attempted to extend the degree of influence on the EC to the extent that Ms. Marks has. To leave such an outrageous statement unaddressed or unchallenged would leave the impression that Ms. Marks’ assertion has validity where there is none.

• Ms. Marks’ characterizations of the actions of the EC as “adoption of city proposals to further reduce transparency” and “little more than gentle suggestions to adhere to laws” has meaning only in her mind. She asserts that the EC actions are adopted from city proposals is factious and serves the single purpose of advancing her own spin.  

It is a tiring task to attempt to answer and correct Ms. Marks’ spins and misrepresentations. Do not expect me to commit myself to the unending task. Sometimes keeping my own counsel is more than I can do.

Ward Hauenstein

Aspen Election Commission member