Semrau: Time for a bit of courage
Calling for more effective government and “political courage,” local developer Tim Semrau announced his candidacy for the Aspen City Council Monday.
Semrau, 47, joins a growing list of contenders for two council seats that will be filled in May. He came in third among a field of six candidates vying for two council seats in 1999, his first bid for public office.
Citing his experience as a private developer and his love of Aspen, the 15-year local resident called public service a citizen’s responsibility. Semrau is currently a member of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Board and previously served about 18 months on the city Planning and Zoning Commission.
As the private developer of several free-market/affordable housing projects, Semrau said he has knowledge to offer to a city government that is pursuing various developments.
“Given all the city’s development activities, I feel like all my expertise in the field would be really advantageous to the council,” he said.
Semrau also said he would bring to the council the insight of someone who has sat in both the applicant’s seat and on the boards that review applications.
“I’m a veteran of both sides of the table. I think one of the prerequisites for public office should be to sit on the other side of the table just once – to know what it’s like to be an applicant,” Semrau said.
While Semrau expects to begin work on an already-approved project at the base of Shadow Mountain, there is nothing else on his immediate plate as a builder, giving him time to serve, he said.
Also spurring his candidacy, Semrau said, are some critical decisions that will face the city in the coming months and years – on housing, downtown rejuvenation and the entrance to town.
“I think in the next couple of years, the City Council has fantastic opportunities to do great things,” he said. “The unfortunate downside of those opportunities is they can do great harm to the city.”
Aspen is, for example, at a crucial point in the renewal of its “stagnated” commercial core, Semrau added. A city-appointed infill committee is coming up with ideas to foster the development of affordable housing and affordable commercial space in the downtown area – a rejuvenation Semrau said he supports.
“But it’s going to take political courage to implement any changes they suggest,” he said.
Semrau said he also believes city government could operate more effectively, suggesting the council has been “micromanaging” on so many fronts, it’s “impossible for them to do it all well.
“I think they take on too much – it could be done better,” he said.
Semrau said he has lived in ski resorts for his entire adult life, starting in Big Sky, Mont. Most recently, he resided in Breckenridge for nine years before moving to Aspen.
“I love Aspen and Aspen has been really good to me, so I want to give something back,” he said.
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