O’Sullivan makes it three-way race for Aspen mayor
It’s now a three-way race to see who will become Aspen’s nextmayor, with the entrance of longtime resident Michael O’Sullivaninto the fray.”I’m a no-growth, straighten the damned highway now, with or withouta train that may come later, build some meaningful employee housingkind of a guy,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. “That prettymuch sums me up.”A local business owner who stresses that he is “not pro-growth”despite his adamant feelings about finishing the highway, O’Sullivanwas more than a little nervous about declaring his candidacy.Confirming that he has never been involved in local governmentuntil now, he said, “I’m as green as green could be. My mind isclear.”Asked why he wanted to enter the combative world of Aspen politics,and aiming for the city’s top job in his first foray, he said,”I just don’t see anyone challenging the existing bureaucracy.I want to be a voice. The mayorship is a powerful position. Hesets the agenda.”Although he repeatedly criticized the performance of present andpast city councils, O’Sullivan said he is “90 percent behind everythingthe city has done,” citing four program areas in particular -the upcoming Iselin Park bond election, the child-care/housingtax supports, the city’s support for the arts, and the city’sdedication to expanding and improving local trails.But, as an example of how he thinks the city has failed to doits job, he said the Entrance to Aspen should have been builtlong ago, basically as it is now being planned – with two lanesfor cars, two lanes for mass transit and a new bridge over CastleCreek.”If we had done the right thing 20 years ago, and gone with astraight shot into town, we wouldn’t be discussing the problemswe are now,” he declared.He also supports the city’s purchase of Bass Park, an 18,000-square-footparcel on Monarch Street. But he feels strongly that the cityadministration is in error in wanting to save part of the parcelas a park.”Bass Park is a perfect microcosm of how hard it is to build meaningfulemployee housing,” he said. “It should be one-hundred percentemployee housing.”He said that in general, he feels the city should be concentratingits affordable housing efforts within the city limits, beginningwith aggressive policies to convert existing condominiums andother properties to affordable housing.O’Sullivan, 39, has lived in Aspen on and off since 1976, whenhe moved here with his family and entered Aspen High School, graduatingin 1978.After spending a year as a chairlift operator, he left town toattend Fort Lewis College and earn a degree in business administrationwith a minor in economics.Then it was back to Aspen for “a couple of years” before headingout again for five years’ work as a stockbroker in south Florida,Atlanta, Georgia, and Fort Collins, Colo.Returning to Aspen in 1991, he set up his own painting businessand began doing a little property management. He now works asthe manager at the Clarendon Condominiums on Durant Avenue, wherehe lives with his wife and their five-week-old daughter.O’Sullivan’s entry into the mayor’s race means there will be atleast three names for voters to choose from – his, incumbent CouncilwomanRachel Richards and former county Commissioner Helen Klanderud.Former Mayor Bill Stirling and former council member Max Marolt,both of whom have indicated interest in the post, have yet toformally declare their candidacy.For two council seats up for election, there currently are twodeclared candidates – Aspen native Tony Hershey and longtime localbusinessman Tom McCabe.Aspen City Clerk Kathryn Koch said that as of Tuesday afternoon,her office had issued six petitions to interested parties. Thepetitions, each bearing 25 or more signatures of qualified localelectors, must be returned by April 5.Voters can pick up or request by fax the request form for an absenteeballot now, and the form will be mailed on or immediately afterApril 19.Absentee ballots can be submitted to the clerk’s office startingon April 19, or absentee ballots can be cast in person at CityHall during business hours after that date.The municipal election is scheduled for May 4.
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Colorado’s Legislature plowed ahead Tuesday on special session legislation to provide millions in limited state relief to businesses, students and others affected by the coronavirus pandemic.