Richardson elected Carbondale mayor
Acting Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson erased “acting” from the title Tuesday with a landslide election victory.
A consultant for SGM Engineering, Consulting and Surveying, Richardson is a native of Glenwood Springs, where he served on City Council from 2001-05. He was elected to the Carbondale Board of Trustees in the spring shortly before six-year mayor Stacey Bernot resigned to move outside town limits.
The board opted to place the position on the November ballot rather than hold a special election and selected Richardson in the interim. He will now serve the remaining year and a half of Bernot’s term.
“I was kind of pinching myself to be acting mayor of the coolest town around,” he said. “I went into the race with that advantage. The job is just as hard and time-consuming as being mayor, so I feel like I’ve been there for the past six months. This validates that others feel like I should be there.”
Richardson faced two challengers in the race: current trustee Katrina Byars and former trustee Ed Cortez. As of 10 p.m., the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s office had recorded 2,418 votes in the race, with 1,308 for Richardson, 656 for Byars and 454 for Cortez.
An area native herself, Byars is the manager of the Dandelion Market cooperative. In her time as trustee, she asserted that municipal government is not too small to make a difference on the environmental front. In her campaign, she expressed hopes to bring town parks into compliance with disability access, see more official publications printed in Spanish and help seniors get consistently nutritious meals.
“Our town is strong, and we have a great responsibility to work together to make Carbondale more sustainable and more inclusive,” she said after the initial results came in. “I am fully supportive of Dan Richardson in his role as mayor and I look forward to many opportunities to work together to help our community.”
Cortez, a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus driver, has also served on the planning commission and RFTA board and is president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1774. In his campaign, he said that a pair of recent failed town tax initiatives stimulated him to run.
“You win some, you lose some,” he said. “If in 18 months I don’t see some improvement, particularly in terms of economic development, I’ll be back.”
For his part, Richardson seemed to appreciate the race.
“It allowed for some thoughtful discussion,” he said. “My message in the campaign has been about maintaining good dialogue and doing the work. Going door to door and having coffee with people, I feel like I have a much better handle of a common agreement about how people want Carbondale to progress.”
Even so, he’s relieved to be done with nearly a year of campaigning, first for trustee and then for mayor.
“I’m very excited to devote my efforts to being mayor instead of running for mayor,” he said.
As for whether the replacement for his three-year term will be appointed or will require another election, it’s too early to tell.
“I’d like to get a lot of feedback from the public before we make that decision,” he said.
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The field for three open seats on Aspen City Council in this spring’s election is set at 10 people, most of who are newcomers to Aspen’s political scene. Eight are going for the two council seats and two candidates are vying for mayor.