Peirce out of race |

Peirce out of race

Janet Urquhart

City Council candidate Tom Peirce unexpectedly withdrew from the race Thursday after his health suddenly deteriorated Wednesday.

Peirce, 48, was admitted to Aspen Valley Hospital on Wednesday night. An AVH spokesperson said no information about his condition was being released. His brother, Fred Peirce, said yesterday that his family was not yet prepared to discuss the situation.

In a brief statement issued yesterday afternoon, campaign treasurer Tom Cardamone announced that Peirce had been forced to call off his council bid.

Peirce was diagnosed with lung cancer nearly a year ago, prompting inquiries from friends about his health when he announced this spring that he would run for office.

In a letter to the editor, published earlier this month, Peirce indicated he had undergone different treatments that kept his illness at bay. He has never been a smoker and said he was shocked by the diagnosis last June.

“Of course, I would never have decided to run for council if I didn’t feel that I had the strength and energy to handle the campaign and the job,” he wrote.

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Cardamone indicated Peirce has been hoping to enter a new treatment program that has been effective with his type of cancer.

“It was just a huge surprise for all of us that he took a turn for the worse so dramatically,” Cardamone said.

“Members of his family and campaign wish to thank his supporters as we carry his vision for the community forward,” Cardamone said in the statement.

Peirce had emerged as a strong contender in a large field of candidates for the two council posts up for election on May 6. At one time, the race featured 10 candidates, but Peirce is the third challenger to withdraw.

In his campaign, he voiced reservations about the city’s proposed infill legislation and its impact on Aspen’s views of the mountains. He also advocated a reasoned approach to additional affordable housing, weighing its social and environmental impacts against its benefits.

He called for improving the pedestrian experience in Aspen and reducing vehicle traffic, suggesting an underground parking structure on the outskirts of town, with quick shuttles to bring people into the core.

Peirce’s departure from the race came as a surprise, as word began to circulate yesterday.

He was a strong candidate, said Councilman Tom McCabe, who is seeking re-election.

“I considered him one of my chief opponents,” McCabe said. “It sounded like he would have had an even-tempered approach to problem solving. I think Tom, had he been elected, would have been a collaborative council member.

“I do wish him well. I wish him a speedy recovery.”

Peirce’s name will remain on the ballot, as the deadline to withdraw one’s nomination petitions has long passed and the ballots are printed. Because early voting is under way, it’s likely he has already garnered some votes.

Also on the ballot is Vitashka Kirshen, who said earlier this week that she was withdrawing from the race.

Bert Myrin was among the first challengers to announce his bid for a council seat, but he withdrew before the deadline and his name does not appear on the ballot. In pulling out of the race, Myrin said he hoped to strengthen the candidacies of other contenders, including Peirce, whom he endorsed.

Remaining in the race are McCabe, incumbent Tony Hershey, Torre, Cliff Weiss, Rachel Richards, Lisa Markalunas and Pepper Gomes.