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Snowmass mayor candidates talk top town issues in Thursday forum

Snowmass Town Hall on May 3, 2020.
Maddie Vincent/Snowmass Sun

In a back and forth Thursday night, current Snowmass councilmen Bill Madsen and Tom Goode discussed why they are vying for the open mayor seat and what issues are most important to them during the “Squirm Night/Candidate Forum” event.

Hosted by the Snowmass Sun and The Aspen Times, Aspen Daily News and Grassroots TV, the forum allowed Snowmass mayor candidates Madsen and Goode posed questions centered on development, housing and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In Madsen’s opening statement, he said he is a product of employee housing, born and raised in Aspen where his parents started the Madsen Chalet, relatively inexpensive housing he said his mom still runs today.

Madsen said he’s lived in Snowmass Village for 26 years, emphasizing that he feels working to keep the village a fun place to live and to visit is very important.

“Snowmass is based on recreation, the foundation of this community is based on recreation,” Madsen said. “I think it’s really important that fun is a major part of what Snowmass is known for and if you think that’s a frivolous political statement, I challenge you: Why did you come to Snowmass Village? I bet you it’s because of recreation.”

For Goode, while he feels recreation is an important component to the Snowmass culture, he also stressed that keeping the town running and “keeping the developers at bay” also is an important challenge for the town.

A former high school educator, shop teacher, football coach, current football referee and longtime owner of a local plumbing and heating company, Goode said after his first year visiting the Aspen-Snowmass area he fell in love and is still here more than 47 years later.

“I just love Snowmass Village,” Goode said. “I had an opportunity to chair the Planning Commission for a while and I also was on the planning board for a while, which was a great foundation to jump into council.”

Goode and Madsen currently serve on the Snowmass Town Council and were fairly aligned on many of the group questions posed about important issues facing Snowmass Village, including what they have learned about the town’s capacity and need for development and what projects should be prioritized in years to come; how they plan to address the ongoing need for affordable housing and what specific types/housing projects are needed most; and how each candidate feels the town should continue to support locals and businesses in the months ahead as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

Goode stressed that he feels while development in Snowmass is inevitable, it needs to be controlled by council and the mayor so that it best serves the community. In regards to housing, he said he feels there needs to be more rental housing options in town to better support the local workforce, more affordable purchase options in Snowmass so village employees aren’t pushed to live downvalley, and more focus on options that allow older residents to “age in place.”

Overall, Goode said the top two issues he thinks are most important to address in the near-term are the COVID-19 crisis, namely ensuring locals and businesses make it through, and mitigating continued development in Snowmass Village.

“We can’t just stay a sleepy village but we have to stage (development) to a point where we do it in stages,” Goode said. “Housing is a big deal, transportation is a big deal, Highway 82 is a big deal. There are a lot of big deals going on out there we need to address.”

Madsen expressed the need to follow the 2018 Town Comprehensive Plan and town building codes when looking at how to prioritize development, using the community-driven and legal guides to determine what, where and how new projects should be approved.

He also stressed the need to keep fleshing out the town’s in-the-works master housing plan, which identifies what he feels are promising future sites for employee housing like the area behind Town Hall, and to keep affordable housing options in the village diversified, continuing to look at what the best mix of unit types is.

The two issues Madsen identified as most important to focus on moving forward were completing the town entryway project, also known as the Snowmass Town Park redesign, and addressing employee housing needs.

Bottom line, Madsen said he feels having a council that works as a team and is able to build consensus on these issues is most important.

“Snowmass Village is not an us versus them … it’s not partisan politics like we see in the rest of the country. The best way for Snowmass Village to move forward is to have a team environment,” Madsen said. “It’s really about building consensus to make sure we have the best path going forward.”

In their closing statements, Madsen said he hopes to see Snowmass continue to thrive athletically but also artistically through Anderson Ranch and the Snowmass Arts Advisory Board as well as intellectually by reigniting the pursuit for an Ice Age Discovery Center.

Goode said he feels the COVID-19 crisis will continue to impact Snowmass for years to come and that it’s important for the town elected officials to recognize that, along with the impact the various large developments like Base Village and the Snowmass Center will have on locals.

Regardless, both Madsen and Goode expressed gratitude to be in a place like Snowmass Village and a deep desire to serve the community in the mayor role.

“I just think right now that we are very fortunate to live where we live. But we have to protect ourselves,” Goode said, referring to addressing COVID-19 and continuing to closely evaluate future development. “I will continue to do anything I can to help this community whether or not I am part of the council.”

Madsen shared similar thoughts, stressing his love for Snowmass’ small community, which reminds him of the Aspen he grew up in.

“When I go to the post office and I know people, or people walking down the street and say, ‘Hey Bill, how are you doing?’ That’s what’s important to me, that community involvement,” Madsen said. “That’s what really resonates with me.”

After the mayoral squirm night, the five candidates running for the two open Town Council seats met for a separate candidate forum (see related story). For recordings of both forums, which were livestreamed from Snowmass Town Hall on Thursday evening, visit The Aspen Times, Aspen Daily News or Grassroots TV websites.

mvincent@aspentimes.com


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