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Substance over form

Our local columnists have seemingly united against Mr. Hershey’s re-election to City Council on the basis of rudeness. To hammer Tony for rudeness in “blood sport” Aspen politics is like pretending Aspen elects people on the basis of Miss Manners bonus points.

There’s a reason May is called mud season around here: the allegations and slime thrown around every other May have nothing to do with the weather.

While the criticism of Mr. Hershey is somewhat warranted, the irony is the columnists themselves seldom hold themselves to “civil” or “fair” standards.

Take Mr. “Give me trolley or give council death” Busch. Would Mr. Busch’s 47 columns hammering Mr. Hershey be any different if the trolleys had won? Su Lum also decries Mr. Hershey’s lack of civility, then goes on to perhaps the real issue; she wants no part of council members interested in “doing things,” probably in the areas of affordable housing and transportation.

She evidently feels a council of cliches is better for the town than a council of individuals capable of action. I respect her view, in fact find it refreshing that she states her real hopes instead of hiding behind open space or environmental rhetoric.

There are undoubtedly many citizens who share her desire for a City Council doing absolutely nothing, and they should feel free to state the plain truth.

Of course Mr. Hershey sometimes offends people, and of course he threatens some because he actually accomplishes most of what he sets out to do. Having served with Mr. Hershey the last two years I can attest to the fact he is in your face with his opinions, and will never learn how to mouth the appropriate feel-good cliches we expect from our politicians.

I can also attest to the fact he always does his homework, he always knows the facts, and he always votes his conscience and is willing to tell you exactly why.

I personally like Mr. Torre, and no doubt would enjoy his company at a bar or concert. I’m sure his desire to become mayor or serve on City Council is well-intentioned, yet I’ve been disappointed in the fact that in the last two years he has not made much of an attempt to educate himself or participate in a meaningful way to help the community.

He hasn’t done the trench work of joining a board, hasn’t participated in any task forces, and I find his well-intentioned comments woefully misinformed.

For example, his answer to the Burlingame Ranch question is he “wants to be on City Council to represent those that want sustainability, environmentalism, suitability, our community and families as priorities built into this and other housing projects.”

OK, of course I and everyone else want the same goals, and as far as I’m concerned the methodology we’ve created on the Parcel D project has already accomplished those goals. As far as I know Mr. Torre was not at the Parcel D public design competition, didn’t participate in the housing master plan, has never attended a housing board meeting, etc., etc.

If Mr. Torre fails to make it to City Council this time, I sincerely hope he joins the housing or planning and zoning board to better prepare himself for public service in another two years.

Running the city of Aspen (and its $40 million operating budget) should be done by concerned citizens willing to do the hard work required. Personally, I’ll take hard working abrasiveness over politically correct cliches any day of the week.

Please consider substance over form when casting your vote Tuesday.

Tim Semrau

Aspen City Councilman


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