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Upvalley election forums set for today

Aspen Times Staff Report

Local voters interested in looking for information on the vast array of locally oriented ballot questions lurking in this year’s booth can get at least some relief this week.

The Aspen Times, the Aspen Daily News and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association have teamed up to present three upvalley election forums today, Thursday and on Oct. 30.

In addition, The Aspen Times, KAJX and Grassroots TV are putting on a midvalley election forum on Wednesday in Basalt, featuring Eagle County commissioner candidates; those running for the 5th Judicial District (including Eagle County); and candidates for state senate and house seats.

All of the upvalley forums will be based on the same format – panels taking “pro” and “con” positions on each of the issues, and questions will be asked by members of the media as well as any members of the public who care to speak up. Moderators will be on hand to keep the forum moving along and to ensure time limits are honored; each forum is scheduled from 5-8 p.m.

It all starts tonight with a forum at the St. Regis Hotel’s Maroon Bells Room, sponsored by The Aspen Times and the Aspen Daily News.

This first forum will focus on three of the referendum questions on the ballot: Referendum 1A, asking voters for permission to borrow $10.2 million for transportation projects; Referendum 2A, a proposal for a visitor benefit tax (popularly known as a “bed tax”) in Aspen; and question 4B, the proposed Rural Transit Authority, which would create a new taxing district to provide funding for the Roaring Fork Transit Agency and other programs.

The second of the three-part series of upvalley forums will take place on Thursday, again at the St. Regis but this time in the Antero Room, and again taking aim at three separate referendum questions, with the added sponsorship of the ACRA.

The issues highlighted in the second forum include Referendum 2B, which would establish an open space sales tax for the city of Aspen; Referendum 2D, about the fate of the city-owned Bass Park property; and Referendum 3A, the Aspen School District’s request for $41 million to renovate and expand Aspen High School and related facilities.

The final of the three forums will be the traditional Squirm Night, on Oct. 30, at the St. Regis Maroon Bells Room again, this time sponsored by the two newspapers, the ACRA and Grassroots TV.

The forum is expected to cover the Pitkin County commissioner races in districts 3, 4 and 5, and negotiations were continuing at press time to present other races that will affect the Aspen area.


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