Newcomers Wilkinson, Sparhawk prevail in Snowmass |

Newcomers Wilkinson, Sparhawk prevail in Snowmass

Steve Benson

In Snowmass Village, it’s out with the old and in with the new, as John Wilkinson and Sally Sparhawk have been elected to the Town Council. Doug Mercatoris, who was running unopposed, was elected mayor, collecting 951 votes. Shockingly, four-year council veteran Arnie Mordkin was not re-elected, finishing in third place with 475 votes. “I have to say it’s disappointing,” Mordkin said. “I thought I did a very good job for the people in this community, and it’s disappointing to have such a large number of them say they would prefer someone else over me.”But the people have spoken, and if you believe in the system, as I do, you have to respect the people.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s lights out for Mordkin. Mercatoris, who has served 14 years on the town council, left his seat on council to run for mayor, and because he was elected, his seat is now open to a third candidate. Just who will occupy that seat remains in the hands of the council. There are two options: it can appoint the third-place finisher, which is Mordkin, or turn it over to an application process, whereby any local resident can throw his hat in the ring. The new council will make that decision in an upcoming meeting.Wilkinson finished first in the voting with 546 votes, followed by Sparhawk with 536. Rick Griffin, the fourth candidate, finished with 424. Scott Calliham, who pulled out of the race last month in support of Sparhawk and Griffin – both supporters of Base Village – still received 54 votes. Wilkinson, who has done just about everything in Snowmass Village except serve on Town Council, said the election results were very telling for the future of the resort community. “The message I get is it’s time for a change in Snowmass Village,” he said, adding that he had specific reasons for making such a statement, but hesitated to elaborate, saying only, “It’s a message to everyone that voted for me and gave me the first-place vote.” Wilkinson, who moved to Aspen in 1979 and has been a resident of Snowmass Village for 11 years, served on the Snowmass Village planning commission during the entire Base Village submission and has been a member of the trails board in Snowmass since 1993. He’s also served a four-year term on the state trails board, is the chairman of the Pitkin County Library and the chairman of a committee for the Colorado Library Advisory Board. Wilkinson said one of the most pressing issues facing town government is balancing Base Village with the Snowmass Mall. “Our board is going to be faced with how do we make [Base Village] work for everyone and make it successful for the mall,” he said. “In order for Base Village to work, it has to work for the existing mall. That’s the only way it’s going to work.”Sparhawk will be the first woman to serve on the Snowmass Village Town Council in six years. Locally, she’s involved with Challenge Aspen, the Snowmass Chapel, Roaring Fork Leadership, the Komen Race for the Cure and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers. In addition, Sparhawk was involved with rebuilding efforts in New York City following 9/11.”I think people were looking for a balance on council, and I bring a feminine perspective and a new perspective,” she said. “I think what I’m looking forward to most is listening to the people of Snowmass Village.” In fact, that’s what she ran on – “Elect me and I’ll listen.”Both ballot issues – referendum 2B and 2C – passed. Referendum 2B is a tax specific to real estate purchases, and will not effect normal taxes. Furthermore, it is an existing tax that will simply be extended. It passed 669-483.Referendum 2C, or Tabor, passed 791-326. Snowmass Village’s finance director, Marianne Rakowski, said Referendum 2C “basically just says that any revenues that the town receives through these or additional sales taxes … we continue to get to retain it and spend it on town services. It doesn’t allow us to increase taxes without going to the voter, it doesn’t allow us to change tax rates, nor to change the way that we have to deal with the mill levy.”Steve Benson’s e-mail address is

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