Please, no mudslinging during mud season
Now that all four Aspen City Council members have indicated their intentions to run for mayor and the sitting mayor intends to run for City Council, Aspen’s May 7 election is shaping up to be a doozie.
I’m not really into politics; I’m into quality of life. That’s why I live in Aspen. I’m not sure yet whom I’m voting for in May, but urge I all the candidates to consider the following issues:
Fiscal responsibility: I’m a former numbers guy. Just eyeballing “it,” I see a tremendous amount of waste, over-spending and bureaucracy at City Hall. I understand how government works: Departments get budgeted dollars, and then they figure out how spend them. Someone needs to take a sharp pencil to the budget to ensure that our tax dollars are being spent wisely. Wasting money is bad form.
Environmental stewardship: Aspen is a clear leader in the green movement, as it should continue to be. Our high-profile position in the climate-change debate has a direct relationship to the future viability of our town. We need to continue to be innovative and progressive in this area – again without wasting money. In Aspen proper, we need to preserve our parks and open spaces rather than tear them up with bulldozers. Parklets will not cut it in Aspen.
Smart growth: Over the years, Aspen has evolved into a nucleus of greed. There will always be some people who view Aspen as an investment opportunity rather than for her natural beauty and small-town character. Fine, then let developers build within the rules of the zoning code. Smart growth is OK, but no more back-room deals; no more offsets and special situations. No more “We’ll give you this if you do that.” No more lawsuits. If speculators want to invest in Aspen, they should have a clear understanding, ahead of time, of what they can do with their property. The biggest and best use is fine – but bigger than that isn’t.
Between now and May 7, I expect that there will be a lot of mudslinging from various camps and by many of the vocal, local gadflies, many of whom don’t even vote in Aspen. Maybe that’s why the city of Aspen holds its elections during mud season. Hopefully this time around things will be civil. It’s easy to criticize but much more difficult to build a consensus.
However the ballots are cast in May, I hope the next regime moves forward in a positive and constructive direction. Good luck to all the candidates, and here’s hoping for a good, clean election.
Andrew M. Israel