Term limits mean new blood on Basalt council | AspenTimes.com

Term limits mean new blood on Basalt council

Basalt is going to see significant turnover on a Town Council that recently received a lukewarm review from voters.Three seats of the seven-seat council will be up for grabs in the April 4 election. Five candidates are vying for the positions. Term limits prohibit two incumbents, Tracy Bennett and Anne Freedman, from running again. A third councilwoman resigned in December after she moved out of Basalt.Many voters will apparently welcome the changes. A community survey last summer showed that more voters gave the council passing grades than failing grades. However, nearly two-thirds of voters acknowledged they weren’t paying enough attention to assess how the council was doing, or they gave the council a neutral rating.When asked to rate the council’s performance from “very poor” to “very good,” 41 percent of voters polled said they “don’t know” or have “no opinion.” Another 23 percent were neutral and wouldn’t give the council a good or bad rating.Eight percent said the council is doing a very good job, while 21 percent rated the performance as good.Only 3 percent said the council was doing very poorly, and another 4 percent graded the job as poor.New blood is guaranteed in town government because none of the candidates has been elected to the council before. The candidates will participate in their only forum tonight at a debate the Basalt Chamber of Commerce and The Aspen Times are sponsoring. The debate is at 6:30 p.m. at Basalt Middle School.Candidate Joe Zuena is somewhat of an incumbent because he was appointed to the board late last year when Tiffany Ernemann resigned. This is his first attempt at getting elected to the board.Zuena, 48, was a longtime member of the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission. He lives on Riverside Drive and is a property manager with Riverside Services of Basalt. He has lived in town since 1987 and in the valley since 1980. He said he is running because he is concerned about the future of Basalt.The other four candidates are people under age 40 who are taking their first cracks at immersing themselves in Basalt civics: Garret Brandt, Amy Capron, Chris Seldin and Gary Tennenbaum.Brandt, 38, is a partner in the Brandt and Feigenbaum law firm in Basalt and Aspen. He lives in Willits now and has been in the midvalley since 1998. He lived in Emma until moving into the town limits 13 months ago. Brandt grew up in Aspen, moved away for his education and early career, then returned.He said he likes the direction the town has taken, with the council scrutinizing development applications and allowing “reasonable growth” at a “moderate to slow” rate. He said he wants to maintain that approach.Capron is a 33-year-old landscape architect who works in the Basalt office of Greg Mozian and Associates. She lives near Elk Run subdivision and has been in Basalt for six years. Capron is an 11-year resident of the Roaring Fork Valley.She worked on the town master plan and saw its worst-case scenario on the amount of development that could occur. She said she wants to avoid that scenario and stick to the master plan goals that limit and shape development.Seldin, 34, is the assistant attorney for Pitkin County. He has lived in Basalt for close to four years, since moving to the valley. Seldin is a resident of Elk Run.He said he wants to be sure the Town Council is “balanced” and “takes an approach to preserving our small-town character and to growth pressures that’s consistent” with what Basalt residents have indicated they want.Tennenbaum, 35, is the land steward for the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails program. He moved to Basalt four years ago to take that job.”I’m really running to preserve Basalt’s small-town character,” he said. “I don’t feel there is a true community feel to Basalt. I want to help define that feel.”The public will have plenty of time to ask questions at tonight’s forum.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com

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