Twelve to seek vacant Aspen City Council seat |

Twelve to seek vacant Aspen City Council seat

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

A late flurry of applications Monday for the open Aspen City Council seat boosted the number of contenders from three to 12, according to the City Clerk’s Office.

Mayor Steve Skadron said during a work session that he had expected eight to 10 applications by Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline. He laid out a timetable under which the council will conduct interviews of the applicants during work sessions on July 1 and 2 and then hold a public vote after the interviews on July 2. The seat became vacant when Skadron, as a councilman, was elected mayor in a June 4 runoff and sworn in on June 10.

Councilman Art Daily is traveling and won’t be available to participate until the early July meetings, Skadron said. Under the city charter, the council’s deadline to make a decision is July 8. The city does not hold special elections for council vacancies; a majority vote of the city’s three council members — Daily, Ann Mullins and Adam Frisch — plus Skadron, who is a voting member of council, will decide the matter.

The applicant who gets the job will hold the seat until early June 2015. The next general election for mayor and two council seats will be in early May 2015.

Skadron also said he wanted to bring local media into the process by vetting the qualifications of each candidate during a public forum at City Hall. He said he would speak with representatives of the city’s two newspapers as well as Community GrassRoots TV about their participation and to set dates for one or more forums over the next two weeks.

The applicants are (in alphabetical order by last name):

Jason Elliott: The 13-year Aspen resident is chairman of Ranger Capital Group, a Dallas-based investment-management firm.

Elliott wrote in his application that he disagreed with the city’s decision to allow the use of public parking spaces for construction staging to the developer of a new building at the former Gap store property at 204 S. Galena St.

“The lack of parking does impact local business,” he said. “Granting use of those spaces asks the local community to subsidize the construction of the new building. I think that cost should be borne by the specific owner.”

Elliott added that he was not in favor of the Castle Creek hydroelectric plant but that he does support the recently passed 28-foot height limit for new and refurbished downtown projects.

L.J. Erspamer: A property manager, real estate broker and city planning and zoning commissioner, Erspamer ran sixth among a six-man field in the May 7 general election for Aspen mayor. He also unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2009 and has twice sought election to the City Council in 2007 and 2011.

He wrote that he disagrees with the 2010 private settlement between the council and the owner of the East Hyman Avenue property where the new 30,000-square-foot Aspen Art Museum is being built.

“A past attorney representing the city told the (Planning and Zoning Commission) in a public meeting they felt the city would win (a lawsuit appeal over the property’s use),” Erspamer wrote. “The city had nothing to be afraid of. Nonetheless the City Council traded favors behind closed doors instead of representing the citizens.”

Marsha Goshorn: A board member of the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority, Goshorn unsuccessfully ran for council in 2011.

She wrote that the council should take a closer look at the second phase of the Burlingame Ranch affordable-housing development, which is under construction.

“The construction of additional units when the original phase is still dealing with unresolved issues that have been a problem for years does not fill me with confidence,” Goshorn said.

Ward Hauenstein: A member of the three-person city Election Commission, Hauenstein butted heads last year with former Mayor Mick Ireland over the hydroelectric-plant issue and a request to view ballots from the 2011 mayor’s race.

Hauenstein organized a petition that led to a nonbinding referendum on the hydroelectric project last fall.

“It is important to ask questions,” Hauenstein wrote. “I do not believe that polarizing Aspen is good for our future. There must be a process of negotiation to arrive at a consensus.”

If chosen, Hauenstein said the first thing he will do is ask other council members to seek an outside attorney to provide a briefing on the Colorado Open Records Act, emergency ordinances and executive sessions.

Howie Mallory: A supporter of Skadron’s mayoral candidacy, Mallory said the critical issues facing the city are developing and enhancing the so-called SCI Zone to allow locally serving businesses to thrive in affordable locations.

He added that it is also important to reverse the declining hotel bed base and that traffic congestion continues to be an ongoing weakness in terms of attracting visitors and improving the quality of life for locals.

Mallory also wrote that more time should have been taken on the 28-foot building-height issue, noting that “absolutism is rarely a workable long-term position and is often counterproductive in ways not anticipated or intended.”

Jay Maytin: The salesman for Shamrock Foods also sits on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

Maytin said he disagrees with the council’s 2011 decision to choose Michele Kylie and Marco Cingolani to operate a restaurant in the city-owned Wheeler Opera House building.

“CP Restaurant Group had more to offer, a better track record on success and more support,” he wrote.

Maytin added that he was “100 percent” in support of the hydroelectric plant and that he would allow and embrace new development that “benefits the city while not allowing greed and money to drive those projects.”

Lee Mulcahy: The artist is well-known for his public battles with his former employer, Aspen Skiing Co., which fired him in 2011. He said he wants to serve on the council so that “little people get a fair shake.”

“I’m a compromise between the left and the right, as the newspaper likes to characterize the council,” he wrote.

He described himself as a Libertarian tea partier and said he was an organizer of the Occupy Aspen movement.

Bert Myrin: A real estate broker and planning and zoning commissioner, Myrin said he opposed the Castle Creek hydroelectric project out of concern for “project execution and transparency.”

He said he supports the 28-foot downtown height limit. Myrin has been a fierce opponent of the city’s “infill” policies of the 2000s, which sought to promote development. In recent years, the council has sought to reverse many of the municipal codes that were adopted through “infill.”

Dwayne Romero: A former councilman who resigned his seat in early 2011 to take a job with Gov. John Hickenlooper, Romero sought to return to the elected body this year. He ran third in the four-candidate race May 7.

He is president of real estate firm Related Colorado, the Snowmass Base Village development company. He said he has the passion to serve on the council again and that he “humbly” believes he’s good at it.

Cliff Weiss: A ski instructor and member of the city Planning and Zoning Commission, Weiss ran for council in 2011. He said he is an independent thinker and did not have a base of support two years ago that was in line with either Ireland’s campaign or the opposition voiced by the “Red Ants,” a group of conservatives who have been critical of the city’s dealings in recent years.

“I came in third in 2003 and 2005 because I had time to campaign harder and I had a base of voters against the ‘Straight Shot’ (option for the Entrance to Aspen),” he wrote.

Wendle Whiting: A Hunter Creek resident, Whiting is a concierge for the Hyatt Grand Aspen. He said he agreed with the council’s recent decision to cap anonymous campaign contributions (of less than $20 each) at a total of $250.

“I believe my aptitude for engineering, technology and science would be a critical addition to the council,” he wrote.

Scott Writer: Like Erspamer, Goshorn and Weiss, Writer also was an unsuccessful council candidate in 2011. He is self-employed, with interests in renewable energy and real esatate development.

Writer has been a prolific writer of letters to the editors of Aspen’s two newspapers for several years. He said he is generally in favor of the recently adopted 28-foot height limit for downtown Aspen but disagrees with the process that led to it.