Student eyes City Council gig
December 5, 2006
It’s Wednesday morning, and most Aspen High School students are getting ready for school.Not Andy MacCracken. He’ll be late this morning. He’s interviewing for a spot on City Council.MacCracken made the council’s short list of potential replacements for Councilwoman Rachel Richards, who leaves in January to take a seat on the board of county commissioners.The high school senior boasts an impressive résumé, with academic accomplishments such as head boy in the Student Senate, acting stints with Theatre Aspen and volunteer work with the Gail Schwartz state Senate campaign and Action in Africa, an organization devoted to fighting child abuse and violence in Africa.And he still finds time to play guitar and sing with his band, Carlos Has Two Choices.Not on his curriculum vitae, however, is a significant other.”Unfortunately, I’m lacking in the girlfriend arena,” he said.Perhaps that’s how he’ll find the extra time to serve on City Council.
Tuesday evening, MacCracken took time between theater rehearsal and Spanish homework to talk about his bid for public office.Having a high school student on City Council might seem like a joke to some, but MacCracken takes it seriously.He’s currently working on a civics project about the Entrance to Aspen, and he’s prepared to come up to speed on the other big issues facing the city.Although he’d heard nothing about the current building moratorium as of Tuesday night, moments after learning he’d made the cut, he didn’t see himself at a disadvantage.”Obviously anyone who comes into [this position] at this point is going to be a newcomer and is going to have to be trained,” he said.Students are the ideal candidates, he said, because they’re used to processing and retaining a lot of totally new information quickly.”Our school system here is great for that,” he said. “They really promote the critical thinking.”MacCracken hopes to study political science at American University in Washington, D.C., although he’s waiting to hear about that application, too. He’s already been accepted to Knox College in Illinois (where, he notes, the final Lincoln-Douglas debate took place).
He’s undaunted by the myriad government documents he’d have to read over the holiday break to catch up on the moratorium, implemented in April and set to end Feb. 28.”What’s dry in civics for other people, believe it or not, interests me,” he said. “I’m very interested in what affects people.”Some might wonder if the extra work of City Council will get in the way of his schoolwork.Not likely, MacCracken says. He doesn’t have to finalize his school schedule until early January, leaving plenty of time to make room for meetings.And he finds a packed schedule helps him perform better, not worse.”Last year, in the spring semester, I actually had no time to breathe, and I came out with the best grades I’ve had,” he said. “When you’re always going, everything gets done.”He pulled down a 3.9 grade point average that semester, up from his cumulative average of 3.65. It’s hard to say how the other applicants stack up to those numbers. He might be the only one sporting a GPA on his application.MacCracken has earned four varsity letters in tennis and three in baseball. He’s poised to letter again in baseball this spring, but he’s prepared to forfeit that chance if he’s appointed to the council.
“You know, a position like this, anyplace where you have a great deal of responsibility, there comes a sacrifice,” he said. “It’s taken me around the state and around the country and around the world, and I’d be ready to drop that because I think this is the next chapter of my life.”The guitar-playing, baseball-loving, rehearsal-going Aspen native says a lifetime in this mountain town is all he needs to serve his constituents: “I’m passionate about this town. I love this town. It’s the only thing I know.”MacCracken joins eight other applicants the council (except for Richards) will interview for the position. In order, as ranked by City Council: Ruth Kruger, Dwayne Romero, Jasmine Tygre, L.J. Erspamer, Rick Head, Joe Myers, MacCracken, Michael Wampler and Steve Skadron.Tuesday night, as the council prepared to schedule last-minute interviews, MacCracken was already a topic of discussion.”That young boy does have school,” said Councilman Jack Johnson.”Young boy?” Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss responded. “If he’s old enough to be on council, he’s a man.”Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.