Maron, Ross, Leavitt for Basalt Town Council |

Maron, Ross, Leavitt for Basalt Town Council

The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

A candidate for one of the three open Basalt Town Council seats noted that this election has caused stress and strain among some people. Then he laughed dismissively and said, “You’d think the stakes are big or something.”

Actually, the stakes are big for the small town in the April 3 election. Basalt could take a step backward in land-use planning if a certain slate of candidates gets elected. Basalt could revert to an era when any business was regarded as appropriate in any location – how a tire store and gas station ended up getting built at signature sites at the entrance to town.

Basalt deserves better. That is why we are endorsing Bill Maron, Herschel Ross and Robert Leavitt for the three council seats. (Jacque Whitsitt earned our endorsement for mayor in the March 23 edition.)

Maron has paid his dues as a volunteer on the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission since 1998. He has been chairman of the board, which handles a lot of the nitty-gritty on land-use issues, for the past four years. Maron, an architect, has proven that he has an open mind to development, but he is on guard against any hint that a proposal could be detrimental to Basalt’s small-town character. His stance that affordable housing should remain a top priority to keep Basalt diverse also is reassuring.

Ross hasn’t been in elected office in about 20 years, but he proved himself as a moderate force as both the Snowmass Village town councilman and Pitkin County commissioner when he served in the 1980s and ’90s. Ross, a dentist, has a history of taking well-reasoned positions.

During this campaign, at a time when the valley’s economy is still sputtering, it would be easy for candidates to promise anything to prime the economic pump. Instead, Ross has been courageous and astute enough to say the town is going to have significant growth with the opening of Whole Foods Market and surrounding shops, the redevelopment of the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park with a nonprofit campus and commercial offerings, and a proposal for a continuous-care facility. Those projects are all “positive game changers,” Ross said, but the council needs members who can say “no” to other, less appropriate projects. We agree.

Leavitt has focused his campaign on the fact that he has kids in the Basalt public schools. He wants to build the relationship between the school district and town government, noting that well-run schools are a hallmark of enticing places to live. Leavitt is extremely involved in youth activities and can bring the voice of families into Town Hall. That will be an important addition.

We are not endorsing Lemuel Bolanos but feel he could make a fantastic candidate with some seasoning in civic endeavors. Bolanos, a marketing person, spoke eloquently about the need to get more people, particularly younger people, involved in government and in town activities. He has some good ideas, and we feel the town government and Basalt Chamber of Commerce would be wise contracting with him to tap his marketing expertise. We would like to see Bolanos get better acquainted with issues facing the town, possibly as a volunteer on the planning commission, and then make another run for council in 2014.

While Rick Stevens doesn’t get our endorsement, he deserves credit for the years of prior public service he provided for the town as a mayor, planning commission member and volunteer on citizen boards.

In the April 3 election, vote for Bill Maron, Herschel Ross and Robert Leavitt.

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