The $10 million question; who would spend it best? |

The $10 million question; who would spend it best?

Incumbent Skippy Mesirow, left, and Aspen City Council challengers Sam Rose, middle, and Bill Guth talk before the recent "Thriving in Aspen" election forum, presented by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

From a 10-word response to multi-platform platform proposals, mayoral and council candidates weighed in on that lottery-like question: How would you use a $10 million windfall for the city of Aspen?

The candidates for mayor kept their dreaming short.

“I would buy deed restrictions for employee housing,” mayoral challenger Tracy L. Sutton said.

Aspen Mayor Torre chats with challenger Tracy Sutton before taking part in Squirm Night in early February at GrassRoots TV in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

“I would scream out in disbelief!” said Mayor Torre. “I would figure out how to support my community by supporting mental health, and health and human services, artists and cultural organizations, Armory renovation, recreation-program scholarships, community gatherings, housing assistance, and family and teen programs.”

City Council candidates had more elaborate fantasies.

Bill Guth

“I would allocate it more or less evenly toward the following two initiatives,” he said.

“One, I would set aside participation funds for a public-private partnership at the Lumberyard and perform data collection and analysis to determine what specific types of housing our community needs most urgently today and into the future. I would immediately begin an RFP process to source and identify the best private partner for this project. Leverage their expertise to more efficiently build the new housing our community needs.”

Aspen mayoral challenger Tracy Sutton takes part in Squirm Night.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

“Second, I would allocate capital improvements at the Armory; expanding the basement (deeper and wider) seems to be necessary in any use case and likely would not involve a lot of use-specific design. I would immediately begin this work without worrying about putting the cart before the horse. This would lead to a more functional use as a community-serving food hall with both a variety of reasonably-priced food and beverage options as well as our best gathering space.”

Skippy Mesirow

“I’d put $5 million to run a two-year test extension of the walking malls two blocks, complete with a real affordable business district, park, and shared space,” he said.

He’d allocate $4 million to fund an Office of Government Innovation for a limit of four years.

The remaining would be parceled out for $450,000 directly to artists and non-profits promoting public connection, compassion, unity, and expression through creativity and visual and performing arts, with all benefits free to the public.

The then $250,000 for research, derive hard data, convene community outreach, build consensus, write legislation, and run a campaign to pass a “development neutral model” for housing that does to require new development.

He’d spend $100,00 to provide an app-based voting opportunity for citizens to vote from home in a bid to increase voter turnout. Another $100,000 could fund the creation of safety, education, harm reductions, and benefit maximization efforts of the therapeutic use of psychedelic medicines for mental-health treatment coming from Prop 122, adopted by 75.8% of Pitkin County residents.

Wait, there’s another penny, or $100,000: “That would go to fund facilitated community-listening circles to bring our community together in empathetic understanding,” Mesirow said.

Sam Rose

“If the council had to use this immediately, I would push to use it to finance buying back deed restrictions like the ones at Centennial that were listed for $10 million a few years ago,” he said.

“I would also want to use it to help finance more child-care opportunities, to provide greater efficiency within our community development department, to help the Centennial owners repair their units, and to potentially turn our old City Hall, the Armory, into an affordable food hall.”