Seldin’s political career might not be over
BASALT ” The strange saga of former Basalt Town Councilman Chris Seldin’s political possibilities took another twist Thursday.
The Basalt town government decided it must review its regulations on residency requirements for appointees to the council and untangle related confusion before it fills a vacancy. It now appears that Seldin, who resigned his position last Friday but indicated he might be interested in a reappointment under certain circumstances, could be eligible.
Here’s the sequence of events that lead to this point:
Seldin resigns. He explains in his letter of resignation that he moved to the 9th Judicial District and out of Basalt because he is a finalist for appointment to a new judgeship in that district. Seldin said if he isn’t appointed as judge, he wants to return to Basalt and be reappointed to the council.
the council directed staff to advertise the vacancy and accept letters of interest through May 30.
the town government submits a notice of vacancy to The Aspen Times for a paid advertisement that says the position will be filled according to provisions in its Home Rule Charter.
“In order to qualify for consideration, an applicant must be a qualified elector in the Town of Basalt, and have lived within the Town limits for a period of 12 months immediately preceding the appointment,” the notice said.
questions surface about the residency requirement. The town pulls its notice pending further review.
the town tentatively has scheduled an executive session for the council to discuss ambiguities in the Home Rule Charter.
Town Manager Bill Efting referred questions about the review to Tom Smith, a private-sector attorney in Aspen who is Basalt’s contract town attorney. Smith said he was reviewing the case but couldn’t discuss it until talking to the council.
Smith said there are ambiguities in the Home Rule Charter that the Town Council will discuss in executive session Monday, if a quorum can meet.
Seldin said he didn’t find any reference to a 12-month residency requirement in the town’s Home Rule Charter. “This is a legal issue that the Town Council will have to make the final decision on,” Seldin said. He added that he will respect the decision of the council and the town attorney.
To a layman, the Home Rule Charter is confusing on the issue of the residency requirement for a council member. One section suggests a person only has to be a resident of Basalt on the day they are elected or nominated, and that they must be a “qualified elector” of the town. A qualified elector is simply someone eligible to register to vote.
A different section of the charter defines a qualified elector as someone who will have “legally resided for at least 30 days immediately preceding the election in Colorado …”
It’s difficult to tell if a person appointed or elected to a council position has to live in Basalt only on the day of the election or appointment, or if they must live there for 30 days.
Basalt’s Home Rule Charter was drafted in 2002 and approved by voters.
There is no reference in the document to a 12-month residency requirement. However, recent elections have been held for council seats with the 12-month residency requirement.
That 12-month residency requirement comes from state statutes.
Geoff Wilson, general counsel on election issues for the Colorado Municipal League, said Basalt’s Home Rule Charter can “trump” state statutes on the residency issue for council candidates or appointees. A Home Rule Charter gives a municipality broad powers, he said.
Basalt town government is still trying to gauge the range of those powers.
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State department of transportation crews are well on their way to clearing Highway 82 to Independence Pass, which should open on schedule May 27 at noon.