Schendler to enter Basalt politics? |

Schendler to enter Basalt politics?

Scott Condon
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The director of the Aspen Skiing Co.’s acclaimed environmental affairs department is contemplating entering Basalt politics.

Auden Schendler took out a candidate nomination petition this week for the Town Council race. However, Schendler said he hasn’t decided if he will run.

“I need to decide if I have the time and will to do it,” he said. “It’s painful to be on Town Council. It’s a lot of time and stress.”

On the other hand, he said, he doesn’t want to pass the responsibilities of governing to others without pitching in himself. He joked that he’s set up an “exploratory committee” of one to determine if he should run.

Three seats are open on the Basalt Town Council. Mark Kittle and Bernie Grauer have declared their candidacy. Leroy Duroux and Anne Freedman are running for mayor.

If Schendler runs, he would be the first Skico executive in recent history, and possibly ever, to hold public office while employed by the resort operator. George Madsen, a Pitkin County commissioner in the mid-1980s, entered public office after he quit working for the company. Madsen said he couldn’t think of any Skico executive who held office while employed by the company.

Schendler has been Skico’s environmental affairs director for three years and worked as the assistant director prior to that. He has helped oversee numerous high-profile projects ” from building the base of snowboarders’ super pipes from dirt to leading the charge in the ski industry for legislation aimed at reducing world greenhouse gases. The Skico is also producing annual sustainability reports that detail the good things and bad things the company does in environmental fields.

“If I run, part of my platform will be environmental,” he said. For example, he would promote Basalt’s adoption of Aspen’s high-efficiency energy code.

Schendler labeled himself as “not anti-growth but for smart growth.” He would support “infill” projects proposed within the town’s existing urban growth boundaries. He would also support “new urbanism” projects, which typically allow extra density in projects that mix residential and commercial uses in pedestrian-friendly ways.

Schendler previously lived in Carbondale and served on the planning commission there for about two years.

Schendler and any other potential candidates have until 5 p.m. on Friday, March 5, to file nomination petitions with the town clerk.

Schendler said his decision will boil down to mostly personal issues, but he will also consider the field of candidates. The worst-case scenario for Basalt would be if there aren’t enough candidates running for the three open board positions, he said. In that case, the council would appoint someone to a seat.

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