Q&A with the Snowmass council candidates | AspenTimes.com
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Q&A with the Snowmass council candidates

Staff report

With Election Day on Nov. 8, this week’s Snowmass Sun features the four candidates for Town Council in their own words. There are two seats open on the council. Voters can cast their ballots in person from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Nov. 4 and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Pitkin County building. In-person voting will move to the Aspen Jewish Community Center with the polls open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 7-8, and Snowmass voters can cast their ballots on Nov. 8, Election Day, at Snowmass Village Town Hall at 130 Kearns Road.

Candidate: Matt Dubé

Matt Dubé| Austin Colbert, The Aspen Times
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Age: 58



Current occupation: My wife and I own commercial real estate outside of the Roaring Fork Valley

Leadership and volunteer board experience: Snowmass Village Planning Commission, Snowmass Village Rotary Club, Melton I HOA, Snowmass Chapel Caring Connections Team




Education: Master of landscape architecture, North Carolina State University

Family: Married, with a son at Aspen Middle School

Who is your biggest political inspiration: The late Senator John McCain. I didn’t support his 2008 presidential run, but I am inspired by his vote against his party’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no replacement. His vote showed courage and integrity.

Why are you running for town council? I am running for council because I want to help protect our town’s endearing qualities into the future. My favorites are the sense of community I get from seeing friends at the local grocery store, enjoying a vibrant neighborhood with kids playing outside, and experiencing sunrises on our uncrowded trails. The small-town character of our village makes these experiences possible. We face many significant challenges. I think that local government can be a catalyst for strengthening the community with just the right amount of participation to protect our physical character and be a resource for neighborhoods, schools, and employers.

Why or why not do you support ballot question 2C, which asks Snowmass voters to expand the use of the lodging and sales taxes to include workforce housing? I support 2C because I think it will help alleviate the workforce-housing crisis without increasing taxes. This initiative will be paid for by existing revenue sources. I believe housing more workers in town will reduce traffic and improve attracting and retaining workers. I believe this will also strengthen community connections and create more economic activity for our local businesses. However, more housing will not solve the root causes of unaffordability, which have been building for some time. We need to find lasting solutions because there is finite space remaining for housing construction.

What is one amenity Snowmass does not have that you would like to see become a reality? We need expanded early-childhood learning opportunities to meet local demand. It is widely known that quality early-childhood education is a significant boost to a child’s fortunes in life. It helps with learning in the following years and encourages positive social skills. It helps kids become self-motivated and build good self-esteem. Little Red Schoolhouse is our local school, which leases its facility from Snowmass Village. The town is working to improve LRSH with an assessment that includes needed capital improvements to take it to the next level. There also may be opportunities to create additional schools as part of the redevelopment of older parts of town. I believe a strong early-childhood education presence would be rallying point for the community.

Do you think development in Snowmass Village is growing too fast, too slow, or just about right? There is certainly quite a lot of construction at the moment, including public- and private-sector projects. It seems every neighborhood is seeing new construction or renovations. No doubt, the economic benefit is strong, but I think the pace of growth is a bit north of “just right.”  The character of new development is an issue, although I don’t think the town should dictate a certain style. Mainly, I am disappointed by the building scale and gradual loss of accessible views near the mountain. I have two other concerns. The first is, does Snowmass Village have a handle on growth’s post-occupancy effect on our town’s capacities? How would we absorb the added traffic (and transit needs)? We should also be concerned about water demand and stormwater impacts on Brush Creek. Second, I have concerns about the ongoing duration and spillover impacts of construction on affected neighbors. A family near our home is dismayed by construction on their neighbor’s lot happening six days a week starting before 8 a.m. I’ve noticed a large increase in heavy trucks, equipment noise, dust, and exhaust in our neighborhoods. I’ve spoken with our chief of police about mitigation measures, such as equipment checks for noise suppression and educating contractors using the construction management plan, which is required for most projects. Since we are going to have to live with construction for the foreseeable future, I think the town leaders and staff should do more research into how impacts are affecting residents and businesses. From there, we can develop strategies with the industry (and possibly HOAs) for a more successful coexistence. I would love to hear constructive feedback from people about this.

Why should voters pick you over the other candidates? I have nearly 20 years experience working in community redevelopment, 16 of them with the Gainesville (Florida) Community Redevelopment Agency. In addition, I currently sit on the TOSV Planning Commission.

As a planning commissioner, my votes helped protect open space near Horse Ranch through a rezoning and also prevented expansion of areas where high-density development would be allowed. I am committed to our comprehensive plan that consists of guidelines to protect our town character against inappropriate development and unsuitable design.

The experience I will bring to Town Council consists of knowledge of land-use issues and processes, knowledge of the town’s governmental functions and working with members of the Planning Commission. The skills I think are important to serving on council are asking relevant questions, listening carefully and seeking sensible solutions. I think my perspectives and skills would be unique and valuable to the Town Council.

*****

Candidate: Tom Goode (also an incumbent)

Tom Goode | Austin Colbert, The Aspen Times
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Age: 73

Current occupation: Plumbing and heating contractor and general contractor

Leadership and volunteer board experience: I served on the Board of Appeals in Snowmass Village for 33 years and was part of the Planning Commission for several years and then chaired the Planning Commission before being elected to council. I officiate high-school football on Friday nights and, previously, was area director for the football officials in area 13. I also was responsible for starting the Aspen High School football program in 2000 and became their head coach. I was a former teacher as well as a football coach. I have also taught skiing in Snowmass for over 27 years, since retired from that. I do also serve on many boards. C.O.R.E. , E.O.T.C., the internal medicine Board in Aspen

Education: My undergraduate degree in Industrial Arts from Montclair University

Family: I am currently married to my lovely wife, Judith, and have raised two children in the valley

Who is your biggest political inspiration? My biggest political inspiration through the years has to be Dwight D Eisenhower; back then, there was no hatred for Republicans and Democrats; there appeared to be more what’s right for the country; they all agreed to disagree and walked away as friends without insulting each other    

Why are you running for Snowmass Town Council? First of all, I do enjoy my time on council especially, I feel the community needs someone who has my skills to help lead the community through some of these decisions. I do feel my perspective on certain agenda items is important, and sometimes silence is golden.

Why or why not do you support ballot question 2C, which asks Snowmass voters to expand the use of the lodging and sales taxes to include workforce housing? I do support the 2C, and the reason why is I feel the monies for housing needs to be getting some help from the marketing and tourism boards; if that has a surplus of leftover allowances, then someone also has to help with the housing the workforce. If they can continue to promote our resort, then we have to keep the workforce needs in our vision.

What is one amenity Snowmass does not have that you would like to see become a reality? One amenity that would be good for Snowmass Village would be a couple of things. One, more child care for the growing community. The existing center is too small for our needs as the growing community, and that may have a future remodel if things go well. The other would be to have more options for off-season dinning, keeping our tax dollars here in the village.

Do you think development in Snowmass Village is growing too fast, too slow or just about right? Snowmass has come a long way since I moved here; the development process has been overwhelming at times. It is tough to control private land; they all go through the process of land-use codes and proper zoning, and they have all made concessions on certain things after starting out with big dreams. With interest rates now soaring, it may slow things down a bit. Development is inevitable, and change has happened and will continue to happen in the Base Village area especially.

Why should voters pick you over the other candidates? I am very fortunate to have been elected several times and very fortunate to have the opportunity to run again. I enjoy the position and feel several things: Number one, my job is not done yet, as well as it’s a feeling of giving back to the community as serving on several advisory boards through the years; and, coaching and officiating high-school football, I have always felt fortunate to live here in a place that you are appreciated.

*****

Candidate: Britta Gustafson

Britta Gustafson | Austin Colbert, The Aspen Times
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Age: 43

Current occupation: Communications director at The Farm Collaborative and creative director for  EdibleAspen magazine

Leadership and volunteer board experience: I have had the privilege of serving on the board of directors for both Wildwood and Little Red Schoolhouse preschools. I’ve served for three years on the board of directors for the nonprofit the Farm Collaborative (prior to joining the staff). In addition, I have served on the Town of Snowmass Village Think Tank, helping to develop the town’s current comprehensive plan, the 40/50th TOSV anniversary’s event team, as well as continually participating in Roaring Fork volunteer activities for many years. Over the past six years, I have volunteered for a number of Aspen School District committees, including editor of the elementary yearbook, PTO member, and an Aspen Schools Outdoor Education volunteer leader. I was also co-creator of the “Story of Snowmass,” our town’s only history book. 

Education: Bachelor of science degree in mass communication, bachelor of arts degree in cultural anthropology, both from the University of Colorado, and a graduate of Aspen High School

Family: Children Lia, age 13 and Noa age 11. Parents Jim (Gus) and Mary (Chi Chi) Gustafson. Sisters (also living in Snowmass Village) Kalli Sinclair and Sonya Ferguson, and my nieces and nephews Ryder 12, Emma 10, Spencer 7, Kaylee 9 and Evelyn 6. I currently have 14 immediate family members living in Snowmass Village!

Who is your biggest political inspiration? When I was 6 years old, I rode a chairlift with former president Gerald Ford and a secret service member. Though I had no understanding of his political views, it encouraged me to believe that politicians are human, and that leadership matters in our daily lives. My inspiration is drawn from women like our former State Sen. Gail Schwartz and our former Mayor Markey Butler, who are compassionate and forward thinking, both persevere with passion, and inspire us all to behave with respect, while demonstrating that respect goes both ways. Among my primary influencers are people like Trevor Noah, who see the macro issues on a micro scale and encourage us all to think big, having fun while we do it.

Why are you running for town council? Snowmass is part of the very fabric of who I am today. I have been observing, listening to, writing about, and participating in Snowmass Village all of my life. Born and raised here, I care from a place of deep authenticity; I want the best for the future of Snowmass. 

Community members have been left out of the conversation for far too long. Because I have experienced many of the same struggles of other hard-working families and community members, I have developed a deep understanding of what it takes to continue to live here. Many community members are searching for a leader who understands and represents this reality. I am that person, and I am listening.

I want to preserve the special qualities and unique, personal relationships that make Snowmass such a wonderful place to live and to visit. 

Raising two kids here, it is my hope that they will continue to love this place as much as I do. I believe it is critical that we don’t incrementally, even if unintentionally, pave paradise!

My wish for Snowmass Village is that we remain aggressively aware of our priceless natural connections, of our unique character, and that we respect the scale of our human impact on this valley. 

Why or why not do you support ballot question 2C, which asks Snowmass voters to expand the use of the lodging and sales taxes to include workforce housing? I do support re-appropriating excess funds from our quite substantial marketing budget; however, 2C does feel somewhat open-ended. I would like to better understand exactly how the dollars would be allocated and to see a more specific plan (before this election, if possible?) as to precisely how this money is earmarked. 

Workforce housing is a need, as it has always been. And, it needs to stay in focus. It’s been a challenge for as long as Snowmass has been a town, and the challenges have become even more exacerbated over the past few years. In order for our town to operate efficiently, it is vital for small businesses to have a local workforce that lives here. The local-working community keeps Snowmass Village vibrant and diverse, and that diversity is needed for Snowmass to remain a truly meaningful place to live, as well as an authentic resort to visit. Our working families are the heartbeat of this town. Creative solutions need to be at the forefront of this issue, and I believe 2C needs more clarity to ensure that it directly helps to address workforce housing challenges. But, again, yes, I fully support re-appropriating excess funds from the marketing budget to support workforce housing. 

What is one amenity Snowmass does not have that you would like to see become a reality? Generally, I would like for us to give ourselves permission to have a little more fun, just for fun’s sake.

I refuse to believe that we have outgrown fun — pure, frivolous, non-meaningful, no strings, useless, unadulterated fun. And, I would really like for those of us living and working here to enjoy our town and its beautiful setting together as a community. After all, that’s why we are here, isn’t it? The pursuit of fulfillment and happiness should be an equally important part of this journey we are on together as a community. 

I feel we work so hard to make this an incredible place to visit, and that hard work should be celebrated and rewarded. An addition that I believe could be mutually beneficial to residents and visitors, alike, is a multifunctional, performing-arts center. This type of facility would be an incredible amenity; an amenity that any world-class resort should have. 

Do you think development in Snowmass Village is growing too fast, too slow or just about right? The character that draws us here can easily be lost within a few short years, particularly in a town as transient and ever-evolving as ours. If we are not painstakingly diligent, the very things that we and our visitors love about Snowmass can be forever lost.

There is development that addresses the problems for which it is designed to solve, and then there is development that is frivolous and unnecessary — or projects rendered obsolete before they come to fruition. We can steward for our future while also making decisions with less impact and more productive alterations to our landscape. Let’s impact our character as little as possible, so that we can ensure that we are developing responsibly. 

With a very finite amount of land still available for development, it is apparent that, as our community evolves, we need to be increasingly careful as we consider that balance between resort operations and community needs. Maintaining the character of our small town should remain in focus. 

The philosophy embraced by our original developer Bill Janss to do “as little as possible” and our current ethos of “Just Big Enough” align for a worthy challenge. 

The development in Snowmass is now growing faster than we would have imagined just a decade ago; still, we are tasked with keeping it under control. Once that building goes up, or that sidewalk is laid down, it’s not going away. Therefore, we must remind ourselves that, every time we add something, we take something else away. 

Like the mistakes of yesterday, the mistakes of tomorrow will belong to all of us. Let’s build only what will solve problems and address issues, maintain what we have, and protect as much as we can for the future. 

“We shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us.” — Winston Churchill

Why should voters pick you over the other candidates? I believe that I will bring to the table a lifetime of perspective and a genuine desire to steward for our future, so that this incredible place can continue to prosper with mindful guidance.

I have a passion for our heritage and our roots and care deeply about these mountains and our wildlife. And, I hope we can continue to educate our visitors — and ourselves — in an effort to return to a more symbiotic relationship (That’s aspirational, but attainable, with small steps continually taken).  

I also believe that it’s time for a new perspective. And, while I would represent a new generation on the council, I can balance that with a well-developed knowledge and deep respect for the community members who have helped preserve the character, authenticity, and appeal that has made Snowmass Village much more than just another resort.

In addition to the past and present, I’m invested in our future, raising kids in this community, while working on and off ‘the clock’ to continue stewarding for what is yet to come. 

My years as a columnist for the Snowmass Sun have kept the issues of our town ever present in my thoughts.

And, I am also quite aware of the challenges and struggles of maintaining this  lifestyle. I currently work (hard) for a nonprofit, and, as a single mom, my family budget is always stretched as far as it can go. I have worked in this community almost all of my life. And, beyond my professional experience in communications and journalism, my resume also includes ski instructor (Snow Cubs), florist (Wildflowers), preschool teacher (Little Red Schoolhouse), bartender (Bluedoor), waitress (Brothers Grill), concierge (Silvertree), and my first career step as a reporter for the Snowmass Sun.

My qualifications are unique and hyper-localized. It would be an honor to be part of the decision making that will inform our future.  

*****

Name: Susan Marolt

Susan Marolt | Austin Colbert, The Aspen Times
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Age:  57 

Current occupation:  Certified Public Accountant/Partner in Marolt, LLP CPA Firm

Leadership and volunteer board experience: Aspen School District Board of Education, 2014-2021; President, Aspen Board of Education, two years: College Outreach board member 2019-present; Action in Africa Board member, 2019-present; Aspen Public Education Fund board member, 2013-2014; Aspen High School Booster Club Executive Committee, 2009-2014; Girls Scout Troop Leader, 2006-2010; Little Red School House board member, 1996-2000; St. Mary’s Catholic Church Parish Council 1993-1995           

Education: University of Texas at Austin, master’s in professional accounting

Family: Husband, Roger Marolt. Kids – Lucy (28 years), Max (26 years), and Jane (22 years)

Who is your biggest political inspiration? When I think about my biggest political inspiration, I think of my father-in-law, Max Marolt. He served as a Pitkin County commissioner and on the Aspen City Council. He was a humble man who took on these roles to serve his community. Looking  back, I wouldn’t say that I agree with all of his political positions, but I strive to emulate him because he navigated his views in a kind, considerate, and respectful way. I know that he faced many challenges to his positions but was able to present his views and still consider the perspective of others. He maintained enduring friendships and relationships with those with differing views. He was always willing to listen and greeted people with a smile in his warm humble way. These are the attributes that I saw that inspire me today.

Why are you running for Snowmass Town Council: I am running for town council as a way to serve my community. I enjoy meeting people and listening to their perspective. I believe that the role of the town council is to represent the collective values and concerns of our community and guide the town staff in creating these visions for our town.  We are in a time of change in our small village. I would like to work to preserve, protect, and promote the unique aspects of our town that create the quality of life that we all value more than in other places we have lived or visited.   

Why or why not do you support ballot question 2C, which asks Snowmass voters to expand the use of the lodging and sales taxes to include workforce housing? I strongly support ballot question 2C. The lodging and sales tax has historically been in place to provide funding for marketing, PR, special events, and group sales. These tasks require a strong workforce living in our community, and, to accomplish them effectively, we must have the human resources to serve locals and guests when they arrive in our town. Workforce housing bolsters employee retention for our local businesses and creates a strong local-community environment. Ultimately, it is the relationships that we form in our village that are the essence of community and character of place. In addition to a strong marketing plan, we must have a quality experience for our guests and local community, as well. This is essential to a strong resort community. 

What is one amenity Snowmass does not have that you would like to see become a reality? I would like to see a library/meeting space in our community. I know that town council has this as one of their goals, and I believe this could serve multiple purposes. In addition to traditional library resources, programming for adults and children — such as classes, book clubs, and speakers — would bring our community together. I think that having a meeting/small venue space for both our visitors and permanent residents would serve to enhance the sense of community and create connections that are vital to our town.

Do you think development in Snowmass Village is growing too fast, too slow or just about right? I think that our growth is probably on the verge of “just about right.”  I think the last two years have been a little fast, and that it might slow just a bit in the coming year. I do think that we need to be very pro-active and focused, however, in looking at what we want to put in place to retain the character of our village.  This includes acquiring more workforce housing and retaining local business.

Why should voters pick you over the other candidates? I believe that my experience on the Aspen Board of Education would serve me well in the role of town council member.  I am familiar with the governance process. I am a good listener and enjoy meeting and talking with members of our community.  I have an undergraduate and masters degree in accounting from the University of Texas that gives me a solid foundation in understanding finance, budgeting, and project-cost analysis and have years of experience navigating the challenges of running a small business. I have lived in the village for 30 years and know and love our community. I would be honored to contribute to sustaining and enhancing Snowmass Village for the future.

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