S’mass keeps Manchester, sends | AspenTimes.com

S’mass keeps Manchester, sends

Aspen Times Staff Report

Snowmass Village voters came up with a mixed bag of election results Tuesday.

The voters retained incumbent Mayor T. Michael Manchester, turning back a bid by former mayor Ted Grenda to take his old job back.

But in the race to fill two council seats, the voters dumped incumbent Kevin Costello in favor of two newcomers – Arnie Mordkin and Dick Virtue (see box for final results). The other incumbent, Mark Brady, opted not to seek re-election.

The voters also approved funding for a new swimming pool in the village, by a margin of nearly 2-to-1, and approved up to $3.5 million for the village to buy part or all of the Snowmass Rodeo grounds, by a margin of more than 2-to-1.

And, in what some have seen as an indication of deep internal divisions between the electorate and their village officials, the voters also came down decisively in favor of spending limitations on future, large-scale public projects.

By a vote of 562 to 306, village voters approved a new ordinance that sets a “project spending limitation” – 40 percent of projected revenues for the current fiscal year – to define how much the government can spend each year on a given project. The projected revenue for 2000 is $9,648,730, so the most that could be spent on a project started this year is $3.86 million.

“I think it’s a reflection of the community,” said newly elected council member Virtue. He said voters were upset about the way the village council was handling plans for a $17 million transit center and decided to intervene.

Virtue was one of a slate of three men, known as the “Candidates for Change,” who ran on platforms that called for greater cooperation between the village and the Aspen Skiing Co. in terms of mapping out the future of Snowmass. Virtue was the only one of the three elected. Of the other two, mayoral candidate Grenda came in second in a three-way race and council candidate Paul Fee finished fourth out of five.

The other winning council member, Mordkin, said the outcome is a sign that the voters want “change, movement forward. They want to see a little more activity on the council than they have in the past. … They want to see us doing things, not just reacting to what’s put before us. They want us to go out and make things happen.”

Manchester, saying he feels “great” about being re-elected, added that the outcome regarding the pool and rodeo grounds questions is “a vote of confidence for what we’re trying to do.”

But, he conceded, passage of the spending limits “is indicative of some kind of concern” on the part of the voters regarding how the council is conducting the public’s business.

He said part of the problem may be a matter of “communication” between the council and the residents, which he blamed partly on the fact that few citizens attend the council meetings to learn firsthand about what their government is up to.

As for the possible impact of the new law, he said, it may interfere with the town’s plans for a new affordable housing project on Faraway Road, although he mentioned “vagaries” in the language of the ballot question that must be figured out.

In any event, he said of the spending limits question, “It is what it is, and we’ll move forward from there.”

He said he is looking forward to working with the new council members and to helping them get started with their new duties at a planned council retreat in December.

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