Staying out of it |

Staying out of it

Dear Editor:City staff has recently been quoted in local newspapers responding to affordable housing proposals by various candidates. The quotes often appear to support or refute a candidate’s position, when in fact it is staff’s responsibility to provide information and remain neutral.City staff’s recognized role is to provide information, not to get involved in debates between political candidates. Unfortunately, when candidates announce a policy proposal to the press, a reporter’s natural response is to seek clarification or confirmation from city staff. The resulting conversation inevitably involves a complex array of numbers and assumptions. Since the reporter is writing an article, not a book, he or she often includes a one or two sentence quote from the city staff member that can be interpreted as giving a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to the proposal. In reality, the quote is usually provided without adequate context, and the topic is more complicated than can be contained in a short newspaper article.The City of Aspen staff promise to try to stay out of political debates during election season, while still providing factual information as requested. Most voters naturally understand the pros and cons of using housing resources for increased appreciation, rent reductions or the creation of additional units. Let’s focus on actual candidate positions and not assumed or implied reactions by city staff.Steve BarwickAspen city manager

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