Tom McCabe throws hat into City Council election race |

Tom McCabe throws hat into City Council election race

Allyn Harvey

Longtime Aspen businessman Tom McCabe announced yesterday that he will run in May for one of two open seats on the Aspen City Council.

McCabe is basing his platform on several issues: creation of urban growth boundaries, additional affordable housing, a sensible transportation plan and a recreation program that is easy for children to use.

As for personal attributes, McCabe is hoping voters will be attracted to his straight-forward manner and natural skepticism.

“I’m pretty direct,” he says. “I have a strong sense of my-self and I don’t get easily swayed.”

McCabe, 53, is the second candidate to announce. He narrowly lost to Patti Clapper in last November’s election for the Board of Pitkin County Commissioners. McCabe says he spent considerable time getting up to speed on the issues for the county election and believes what he learned will be useful as a city councilman.

He is interested in helping the city and county look into developing urban growth boundaries, a concept that is being attempted with varying results in the Pacific Northwest. Portland, he notes, has successfully channeled growth into urban areas by making development in rural areas more difficult.

By limiting growth to urban areas like Aspen, McCabe believes, the city and county could reduce the environmental and financial costs of development.

“If you have sprawl, with one house every 35 acres, it takes more roads to serve that, and more sewers and more electric lines,” he says. “And unfortunately you end up destroying all the habitat.”

Urban growth boundaries would also allow the city and county to concentrate on developing employee housing near the places people work. McCabe believes that makes sense and goes a long way toward preserving Aspen’s ability to function as a town. He also said it is very important for local government to complete the projects already in the works.

As for transportation, McCabe brings 17 years of commuting experience to the table. After spending much of the 1970s in Aspen, McCabe bought a home in Emma and began commuting upvalley five or six days a week.

Although he is not willing to entirely abandon the idea of a train between Glenwood and Aspen, McCabe is becoming convinced that beefing up the local bus system makes better sense. That option is likely to be a lot cheaper, he says, and, at least for now, easier for commuters to use.

Transportation is especially

important for the town, he said. As more and more job opportunities become available in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood, workers will have fewer reasons to commute upvalley.

“The more difficult we make it to get here,” he says, “the more reason we give people to take a job downvalley.”

McCabe is also intrigued by the proposal to locate several recreational programs at Iselin Park, next to the schools. It makes sense to make it as easy and as safe as possible for kids to use recreational facilities. Although he is not ready to comment on the current proposals, he promises he will be soon.

McCabe has operated Aspen Repair Service at the base of Mill Street since 1973. He lives in employee housing and has a 16-year-old daughter, Merrin, who attends Basalt High School.

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