Torre joins mayoral race

Abigail EagyeAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN It’s official: Torre is running for mayor.The first question, in a race that many already say is between Mick Ireland and Tim Semrau, is “why?””Because I’m the best candidate,” Torre succinctly states. “What I bring to the campaign discussion alone is worth it.”Torre casts himself somewhere between Ireland and Semrau, both of whom he called “agenda-driven.”Semrau, he said, is “pro-development,” and “Mick’s No. 1 issue and objective in this campaign is to support the preferred alternative in the Entrance to Aspen.”Mayor or bustAs rumors of Torre’s bid for mayor have circulated in past weeks, the current city councilman has won a lot of support – as a councilman.Some question why he would run for mayor when he has a better shot at winning another seat as in his current position. Aspen Times columnist Su Lum recently implored Torre to seek re-election as a councilman to rule alongside Ireland in the fight against pro-development forces.But it’s mayor or nothing for Torre.”I really appreciate the comments and support I’ve gotten,” he said. “But I feel the time has come for me to be a candidate and a choice for Aspen.”Torre balks at the notion that the race is already a foregone conclusion between Ireland and Semrau. He concedes that Ireland has a strong following. Nonetheless, now that he’s officially in the game, he called it “a very equal three-person race.””I’m not daunted by the Mick machine,” he said. “I really hope Aspenites can reserve their judgments until a real campaign starts.”Past recordAs proof he’s the best candidate, Torre cited his voting record after almost four years on the council and a passion for the issues he says are dear to Aspen’s heart: “Slow and community-oriented development, quality affordable housing, mass transit solutions, open space dedication and historic preservation.”In looking back over his term as a councilman, Torre noted that he was the swing vote in approving Burlingame Ranch. But it’s about more than rubber-stamping buzzword projects like affordable housing, he said.Voters approved only 225 units for Burlingame, but by the time Torre took office, the outgoing council (including Semrau) had upped that number to 330. Torre says he helped shave that back down to 226 in the search for the best project possible, one that respected voters’ wishes and created the best community for those who would live there.Torre also touts his role in pushing for a city ordinance that requires trash collectors to make recycling available. Although the council had to approve the ordinance, he says he pushed to give the idea “legs” when city staff wasn’t quite sure how to achieve that.”I think that I’ve shown a lot of leadership since I’ve been on council,” he said.Torre recently quit his job as a tennis pro to focus on City Council. He’s been surviving on his council pay and salary from his job as a talk show host for Plum TV, as well as “wise budgeting,” he said.Entrance to AspenIt’s Aspen’s perennial problem, and Torre’s solution is take action without trying to do it all at once.Torre advocates widening the S-curves to three or four lanes to open up the bottleneck as much as possible.West of the S-curves, he would like to see the city widen the highway and bridges to accommodate more buses and possibly more lanes of general traffic.At the same time, he wants the city to continue to explore the idea of intercept lots and light rail – take nothing off the table, he said.”I’m talking about taking some big steps,” he said. “The beauty of it is it doesn’t preclude any future options” like the modified direct route or preferred alternative.Relating to the publicTorre’s long-awaited, but unsurprising, announcement came Thursday, slow on the heels of announcements by Ireland and Semrau, both of whom have hired public relations firms to manage their campaigns.But don’t expect Torre to follow suit.”I don’t need any outside entity to help define me or create a perception,” he said. “I’m very able to put out my voting record and my viewpoints and stand behind them.”Torre doesn’t think Aspen needs the “big-city politics and high-dollar campaigns” his opponents are gearing up to run.”I’ve run grass-roots and honest and truthful campaigns three times in this community,” he said.Torre says his bid for mayor is all about Aspen and not in the least about ego.”If anybody alleges that, they just don’t know me,” he said. “My vision for this community is one of a safe and nurturing community. I want to make sure Aspenites are not becoming anymore divided.”The latest mayoral candidate will lead a parade through Aspen beginning at 4:30 p.m. across from the Wheeler Opera House. The Torre parade will pull into the Blue Maize restaurant at 5:30 p.m., where, he concedes, he will probably buy the beer.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is