Snowmass Town Council | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass Town Council

Steve Benson

Although there are only two open seats on the Snowmass Town Council, there will likely be three new faces on the board after the Nov. 2 election.Arnie Mordkin, Sara “Sally” Sparhawk, John Wilkinson and Rick Griffin are vying for the two open council seats. In addition, Councilman Doug Mercatoris is running unopposed for mayor, which will leave his seat on the council vacant if he is elected. In that likely scenario, the newly formed Town Council will have two options to fill Mercatoris’ vacated seat: Appoint the candidate who finished third in the election or appoint someone else. The latter option would involve an application process in which any Snowmass Village citizen could enter. The council would then chooses one of the applicants. It would be a two-year appointment, since Mercatoris is a midterm councilman.

Mordkin, who has served on the Town Council for the past four years, is the only candidate with political experience. And with the headaches the construction of Base Village is expected to create over the next several years – construction is expected to last until 2011 – Mordkin believes his vast knowledge of the development’s details will prove beneficial. “Continuity is very important, experience is very important,” he said. “We spent approximately two years before Base Village was ever actually proposed just traveling to other resorts and hearing experts in different areas – retail, food and beverage, construction. There is a knowledge that I have that these other [candidates] aren’t going to have. “That continuity is very, very important.” The three other candidates couldn’t be more different, but they do agree there are specific projects that need to be realized, including the Snowmass Center, the entryway master plan, revitalization of the Snowmass Village mall and West Village, and the site of the new Town Hall.

Sparhawk would be the first woman elected to the Town Council in recent memory, but she’s not necessarily using that as a tool. Instead, Sparhawk said if she is elected, she will listen. “Basically I believe it’s the role of the Town Council to listen and understand the concerns and the needs of the residents and to work collaboratively to bring about what is best for the village,” she said. During the Base Village review process, for example, several local residents who were opposed to the project complained that their concerns were not being heard by the Town Council. “People keep saying they haven’t been listened to,” she said. “Elect me and I’ll listen.” Locally, Sparhawk is involved with Challenge Aspen, the Snowmass Chapel, Roaring Fork Leadership, the Komen Race for the Cure and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers. Professionally, she has 12 years experience as a small-business owner – Sparhawk Consulting – and 15 years of management experience with a Fortune 500 company. In addition, Sparhawk was involved with rebuilding efforts in New York City following 9/11.

Although Wilkinson has never served on a town council, he’s not exactly lacking in experience. The 11-year Snowmass Village resident served on the Snowmass Village planning commission during the entire Base Village submission. He has also been a member of the trails board in Snowmass since 1993, served a four-year term on the state trails board, and is the chairman of the Pitkin County Library Board, as well as chairman of the Colorado Library Advisory Board.He’s an avid mountain biker and skier – when he has time – and was an instrumental figure in the development of the network of hiking, mountain biking and horse trails in and around Snowmass Village.”I take a lot of pride in Snowmass Village,” he said. “I’ve worked hard – thousands of hours – to make our town what it is now, and hopefully I’ll be involved in policy decisions to take it to the next step.”Action is greater than words and being a part of the community is more than just having opinions.”

Griffin, a 20-year resident of Snowmass Village, is a real estate agent with Coates, Reid & Waldron. But he said that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s pro-development.”You don’t have to be for or against growth. What you need is a focus on the community vision and goals and how to achieve it,” Griffin said.He said his involvement as a citizen in the Base Village approval process was centered on trimming the project to a size that worked for residents and the developers. He believes the Town Council should always be aiming to approve the “smallest growth necessary in order to accomplish the community vision.”Griffin’s spent seven-and-a-half years on the Snowmass Water & Sanitation board of directors, and currently sits on the town’s employee housing advisory committee, the Snowmass marketing board advisory committee and the town’s financial advisory board.


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