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Peace proposals fail downvalley

Peace proposals died in the chambers of the Basalt and Carbondale town councils last night.

Basalt Town Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt’s effort to pass a resolution in support of a peaceful solution to a possible conflict in Iraq failed when no other board member would second the motion to forward it to a formal vote.

Councilman Jon Fox-Rubin co-authored the resolution for peace but he couldn’t attend the meeting.

When it was apparent that the council majority wouldn’t act on the proposal, audience member and Basalt resident Sloan Shoemaker called them “cowards.”

In a polite exchange, Mayor Rick Stevens eventually responded by saying that council members show a great deal of courage simply by taking their seats for a few hours every other week.

“I just wanted you to know we’re not just a bunch of chicken pluckers up here,” said Stevens.

He invited Shoemaker to run for office and take his turn in the hot seat when the mayor’s post and three council positions are up for election in spring 2004.

Shoemaker’s challenge did spur the other board members to state why they didn’t support Whitsitt’s proposal.

Councilwoman Anne Freedman said she is “terribly against this war” but didn’t feel it was appropriate for a locally elected body to vote on a national foreign policy issue.

“This isn’t what we ran on,” said Freedman. “This isn’t what people in this town chose us to do.”

Councilwoman Tracy Bennett indicated she didn’t support the resolution because she understood it to mean that war could be used as a last resort. If war is ever an option, even as a last resort, it will be used, she said. Bennett declared that she wouldn’t support war at any time.

When asked after the meeting why she didn’t try to amend Whitsitt’s resolution or propose an even stronger one, Bennett clarified that she agreed with Freedman that the board shouldn’t vote on the issue, despite her personal feelings against war.

Councilwoman Tiffany Gildred and Councilman Leroy Duroux also indicated the topic wasn’t appropriate for council action.

Whitsitt anticipated the argument against the resolution and stated when it was proposed that she felt Basalt had the right and “even an obligation” to weigh in on such a big issue. She said 137 local governments in 30 states have passed peace overtures so far.

“My heart is causing me to put this on the record,” she said.

The resolution was “meant in no way to disrespect the men and women in the military,” she stressed.

In Carbondale, a peace proposal by trustee Scott Chaplin failed by a 3-3 vote. There is currently a vacancy on the board.

A simple statement that “Aspen supports peace” was approved by the Aspen City Council Monday night.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]


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