No-growthers massacred in city election

Scott Condon

For the first time in a long time in upper valley politics, no-growthers were massacred.A majority of Aspen voters clearly didn’t swallow the claim yesterday that the Burlingame affordable housing project was too much growth for the town to handle. Foes claimed the project went against Aspen’s traditional slow-growth ethic. And the most fervent anti-growth candidates in the mayoral and council races had their heads handed to them, with the exception of Dee Malone.Terry Paulson and Bert Myrin, allies who campaigned on the same platform that Aspen is growing too fast, finished far behind incumbent Helen Klanderud in the mayor’s race.”I think this is a litmus test of slow-growth and no-growth policy,” Paulson said. “Aspen was sort of a last bastion of slow growth and now it’s caved.”That’s baloney, according to J.E. DeVilbiss, a popular former district judge who overwhelmingly won election to the City Council. DeVilbiss didn’t see anything in the election results that indicated Aspen is more accommodating of growth than in the past.Aspen’s vote in favor of Burlingame “is in step with the goal of housing 60 percent of its workers,” he said. “I don’t think that makes Aspen pro-growth. I’m not pro-growth by any stretch of the imagination.”Jim True, a former two-term Pitkin County commissioner and political analyst for GrassRoots TV, said the majority of Aspenites still don’t equate affordable housing with growth, as Burlingame foes tried to get them to do.Like DeVilbiss, he didn’t read any pro-growth leanings into the election outcome.”All of these candidates would be no-growthers in the traditional sense,” he said.True also downplayed any connection between the Burlingame vote and the candidate races. Klanderud flip-flopped on her Burlingame position. She opposed the project a few years ago, then supported it. One of her opponents, Torre, supported Burlingame while Paulson and Myrin were vehemently against it.Among the council candidate field, DeVilbiss campaigned primarily on a platform of support for Burlingame, and he won big. Two other candidates advanced to a runoff election despite differences on Burlingame. Jack Johnson supports Burlingame; Dee Malone opposes it.”I’m not convinced the candidate vote was a referendum on Burlingame,” True said.Malone said some people characterized her opposition to Burlingame as opposition to affordable housing. That’s not accurate, she said. She supports affordable housing, just not the Burlingame project. She plans to hit that point hard in the runoff election campaign.Klanderud said she hopes this is the last time Burlingame will enter into Aspen politics.”I think we’ve been bled to death on this one and I really hope we can move on,” she said. But in true Aspen spirit she opened the door for keeping the debate alive. She said she plans to schedule a community discussion where anyone in the community can raise the issues they have with affordable housing and determine if they want to stick with the community plan goal of housing 60 percent of workers.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is