Two councilmen stay neutral on Basalt ballot questions
Two Basalt Town Council members declined last week to endorse passage of two controversial questions on the town’s November ballot.
The council voted 5-2 Tuesday night to support passage of question 2F, on the purchase of additional land at the Pan and Fork site, and 2G, on approving debt to add features to the park along the Roaring Fork River. However, the majority was clearly unhappy not to get the support of Councilmen Auden Schendler and Mark Kittle.
Schendler said there are good arguments both for and against the proposal to purchase 2.3 acres of additional land.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for the town to say, ‘Vote for it,’” Schendler said. “I’m not comfortable telling the town how to vote for it.”
Kittle said he was “aligned” with Schendler’s position.
Councilman Bernie Grauer said he was confused because he thought the council voted unanimously to support the ballot questions after working for several hours to get wording they all supported. If Schendler and Kittle cannot support the question, they shouldn’t have approved the questions, he said.
Councilwoman Jennifer Riffle added she felt the entire board needed to “get behind what we put on the ballot.”
Kittle countered that voting to place a question on the ballot doesn’t mean an elected official must also support passage of the question.
“Let the people vote and make the decision,” Kittle said.
Mayor Jacque Whitsitt said she was “pretty disappointed” the entire council didn’t support passage of the ballot questions. When that’s happened in the past, she said, it was “more troublesome” to get support for the ballot question.
Grauer said he felt Schendler and Kittle could approve the resolution since it is about “moral support” for the passage of the ballot questions.
“Everybody still gets to vote it up or down,” he said.
Councilman Gary Tennenbaum said he will “do everything in my power” to get the ballot questions approved.
“As a Town Council, we need to support this,” he said.
Schendler and Kittle stuck to their positions. Schendler said Friday his opposition to the resolution shouldn’t be construed as opposition to the ballot questions. He is maintaining neutrality, he said.
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It’s campaign season in Basalt. The three candidates for mayor met Monday night in the first forum leading to the April 7 election.