The kid aims for council again — wiser, he believes
Sam Rose, now 29, is making his second attempt to become the youngest ever on the Aspen City Council.
He said he’s confident the city is ready for the voice of a younger and newer-to-Aspen generation after coming in fourth place in 2021.
Since then, he has been hard at his homework, including graduating from Aspen 360, a city-hosted program that introduces residents to the workings of city government over six weeks — everything from how a building plan goes through the approval process, to how are streets prioritized for plowing after it snows, to where tax dollars go.
His ongoing education has been more formal, as well. In December 2022, he graduated with a Master’s in Finance and Risk Management from the University of Colorado.
“I think this is a big factor that sets me apart from other candidates. I think the master’s is huge. Finance is such a big part of every issue. There is a financial component to everything,” said Rose.
“Especially in the entrepreneurial town of Aspen, the master’s helped enhance my accuracy and comprehension of budgets and accounting, really highlighting what it takes to run a business. While the city is a public entity and different than private business, I still feel I am much better prepared to contribute in a meaningful way. I understand a spreadsheet.”
His dad served on his hometown city council for St. Albans, Vermont, for 20 years.
“I now see the impressiveness of his career, the longevity, and the commitment to our community. That is a huge part of why I ran in 2021 and am trying again in 2023,” said Rose.
He has lived in Aspen for five years, more than a decade less than the other two candidates. For comparison, sitting City Council members John Doyle and Ward Hauenstein have each lived in Aspen for 40-plus years.
Over the past five years, Rose has been a member of the city Planning and Zoning Commission and the 9th Judicial District of Colorado Performance Commission. He has also volunteered as a response hotline advocate for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
And he is an Aspen volunteer firefighter and EMT.
“Currently, I work for Pitkin County Public Health doing data management work. I was part of the COVID-relief effort, and now I manage the COVID-data dashboard and do other miscellaneous tasks related to supporting public health,” said Rose. “My contract ends at the end of June, and I will look to stay with the county in a different capacity or make a career change.”
Middle of the road
He will point out that his true defining characteristic between the other candidates is his middle-of-the-road viewpoint.
“I represent the people, the typical demographic of Aspen, those who vote,” he said. “This distinguishes me from Skippy and Bill. I’m fighting for others that don’t look like me. It doesn’t matter what background; I use empathy and communication and put it all together to form a conclusion that is best from everyone.
“Mesirow pushes for bold, progressive policies, and Guth, who did not see eye-to-eye with the current council on issues like the residential building moratorium and short-term rental tax, was on the opposite end of the spectrum,” Rose said.
While he said he appreciates Mesirow’s dream-big mentality and the strides the current council has taken, he believes Aspen can do better.
“I am not a developer, and I am not proposing anything that seems unrealistic at this time, nor do I have certain antics that some people do not like. I am pro-common sense and taking a pragmatic approach to making sure the policy we push forward is local and friendly — whether that be housing, permitting, or something else,” Rose said.
“I see myself as the middle between the two other candidates with two votes to be cast by each voter. I believe that with who I am, the perseverance I have had, and the strides I have taken for this moment that I should hopefully be an easy candidate to vote for.”
All three candidates for the council this race are white males, not the most diverse group. However, Rose said, “I believe I’m a true representative. I don’t think in terms of being color-blind or gender-blind or that sort of thing. It’s what I’m advocating for, the community as a whole.”
He said he does response work for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
“It could be a man, but I’ve only spoken to women through that. And I’ve helped many women through that, in their times of like greatest need,” he said. “Something like that does not affect me personally. I’ve never been a victim of sexual assault and domestic violence. I use this as an example of something that I tried to do just for the greater good of the community rather than for myself.”
His tenure during the COVID-relief effort expanded his knowledge and appreciation for all demographics of the real Aspen community, he said.
“At the fire department, I helped anyone there, no matter what their background was,” he said. “A lot of times, it was from the Hispanic community. They had more questions than others. I tried to go the extra mile to help them. I’m here to help.”
Curious where you can find and engage with Rose? He’s an active member of Aspen Rec’s B league hockey. He also reaches out as he did through January.
“I’ve been talking to anyone who will speak with me,” he said. “I have been out and about door knocking last week and this week. The cliché is it takes a community to raise a child, and I know this community. I meet real community members while door knocking and through all the things I do in the community. I encourage them to reach out to me if I miss them while door knocking or if they have any questions, comments, or concerns.”
His methods also lead to a new network, he said.
“It all leads to concentric circles of support, where someone I know introduces me to someone they know, and through that, I have gotten to know and gain the support of a diverse and robust group in this community.”
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