Mick for mayor? | AspenTimes.com

Mick for mayor?

ASPEN Mick Ireland is telling friends he intends to run for mayor of Aspen in May, according to sources close to him.Ireland has been holding meetings recently with friends to ponder a bid. He has emerged from those discussions enthused and determined to run for city office, sources said.Ireland declined to confirm or deny his candidacy Wednesday: “I will make a definitive announcement next week,” he said.The race to succeed Mayor Helen Klanderud, who is being forced out by term limits, could be crowded. Tim Semrau, a former Aspen councilman, is considering a bid. Aspen City Councilman Torre has also expressed interest. Andrew Kole, GrassRoots TV talk show host, frequent candidate for public office and gadfly, has announced his intention to run.

One other potential candidate admitted privately that he was waiting to see if Ireland would run before he decided on his own candidacy. That hopeful said he considered Ireland too strong to challenge.Ireland, 57, stepped down as a Pitkin County commissioner in January after 13 years in office. He couldn’t run again for the county seat because of term limits.In the short time since leaving office, Ireland has gone the route of Al Gore – never committing to candidacy but doing just enough to stay in the public eye. He has penned guest opinions and several letters to the editor on city issues.In recent weeks, he advocated a greater need to build affordable housing, mitigate the effects of construction and solve the transportation problems at the Entrance to Aspen.

Ireland’s tenure at the county was often tumultuous, particularly in the early going when he traded barbs with political foes during public meetings. In a profile in The Aspen Times last fall, Ireland acknowledged his rough start and his political maturation.”Oh sure, when I was first in office I was more insecure, I was more defensive about what I was doing. I reacted more in anger to some things,” Ireland said for that September story. “I am subject to the whole array of weaknesses that a person can have – pride or arrogance, stubbornness – they’re all part of my personality, but they’re not the whole thing.”I also think I am broad-minded, open to persuasion and very sympathetic to people. I think that came out as I learned about people and people learned about me.”Ireland was appointed to fill an opening on the board of county commissioners in 1993. He nosed Max Marolt by just 43 votes in an election the next year.

People angered by the commissioners’ approval of rural and remote zoning – which limits what can be built in the backcountry – mounted a recall election against Ireland in 1996. He easily remained in office, collecting 60 percent of the vote.Ireland also easily won re-election in 1998 and 2002. He rebuffed yet another recall try in 2000 when he was targeted for growth management and house size caps.Ireland is known as a master at organizing campaigns. His forte is analyzing databases of registered voters to identify likely supporters of a candidate or cause, then rallying them to the polls. Door-to-door campaigning is a hallmark of his efforts.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.

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