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Paulson will seek third term

Janet Urquhart

Citing outstanding issues that he can’t walk away from, Aspen City Councilman Terry Paulson announced Monday that he will seek a third term in office.

Mayor Rachel Richards, meanwhile, said she would announce today whether or not she will seek a second term at the council’s helm. Councilman Jim Markalunas, also up for re-election in May, remains undecided on his election plans.

Paulson, 50, is nearing the end of his second four-year term as a councilman. He is currently mayor pro-tem and is second only to Richards in tenure on the council. Because term limits were enacted during Paulson’s first term, he is allowed to run a third time, though members are now limited to two consecutive terms.

A Ute Mountaineer employee who is often pegged as the council’s environmentalist, Paulson said certain unresolved issues and a sense of what Aspen is losing have spurred him to another run for office.

“There still are some issues out there that I feel I need to be part of,” said Paulson, citing Aspen’s auto overload, for one.

“The auto in this town – to me, it’s just killing this town,” he said. “If you’re going to get people out of their cars, you’ve got to provide them with an alternative. Right now, that’s buses.”

Paulson has been among the most supportive on the council for putting the town’s decaying trolley cars into service for in-town transit. He also supports completion of the Corridor Investment Study – a step toward future use of the valleywide rail corridor for transit. And he holds out hope that the valley will one day have commuter rail service.

In the meantime, Paulson said he would like the city to revisit paid parking, enacted as an auto disincentive. Free parking for electric cars and, perhaps, reduced parking fees for smaller vehicles make sense, he said.

A local car-sharing program, now in the planning stages, would be “terrific,” added Paulson, who does not own a vehicle. “Oh God, I think that would be the best thing.”

Paulson’s views on vehicles fit with his environmentalist mind-set. He calls the Ecological Bill of Rights adopted by the city “one of the best things we ever passed.

“I still insist, if we used protecting the environment as a basis for our actions, it would make things a lot simpler,” he said.

On a not-so-simple subject, Paulson said he would support larger development projects as a way to get Aspen close to its goal of creating some 1,300 additional units of affordable housing for workers.

The councilman opposed a proposed 225 units at Burlingame Ranch west of town because, he said, it won’t go far enough. “If you’re going to build it, you really should make a dent. It should be 400 units.

“To me, we ought to build more Hunter Creeks and Centennials,” he said, referring to a pair of dense housing projects in town. Paulson said he would support pockets of density outside town boundaries to create significant affordable housing.

Paulson, a Colorado native who moved to Aspen in 1982, said it was concern about the little things Aspen has been losing that propelled him into a run for public office in the first place.

Some of the qualities that made the upper valley seem like paradise when he arrived have been disappearing, he said.

“I noticed after about 10 years . I was just losing something,” Paulson said. “I still feel there are some things we are losing that I used to cherish, that aren’t here anymore.”

As an example, the nordic skiing enthusiast offered a recent ski outing from Aspen to Snowmass Village. There used to be four driveway crossings, now there are 10, he lamented.

“It’s little things like that,” Paulson said. “It’s the little things that add up to the big things, and pretty soon you’re looking for somewhere else to move to.”


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