Valley politicos gather for picnic, `nonviolent’ fun |

Valley politicos gather for picnic, `nonviolent’ fun

A special picnic tonight could spark unprecedented cooperation among the Roaring Fork Valley’s elected officials. Or it could degenerate into one hell of a food fight.

The 42 elected officials and seven government managers from the valley, as well as their spouses and children, have been invited to the All-Valley Elected Picnic at Carbondale’s Sopris Park.

The participating governments are the counties of Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield and the towns of Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

It was organized by Basalt Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt and Garfield County Commissioner Walt Stowe when they realized “half of the elected officials probably wouldn’t recognize one another,” said Whitsitt.

There’s no truth to speculation that the picnic will feature a tug-o-war between rail supporters and foes. And the sudden lack of rain has dried up chances for mud wrestling between Aspen Mayor Rachel Richards and Aspen Councilman Tony Hershey.

A friendly game of volleyball is all the competition that’s planned. “If you have other nonviolent thoughts for activities, bring them,” the invitation read.

There’s no intention of talking serious politics, said Whitsitt. Instead it’s a social gathering designed to let elected officials see one another in their “normal” lives rather than as “political machines,” she said.

“I think it will be the beginning of establishing trust on some level,” said Whitsitt.

Fiscal conservatives don’t have to worry about the politicos feeding at the public trough. Every family or individual was instructed to bring their own meat to barbecue. The rest of the meal is a test in cooperation. Garfield County, for example, is supplying desserts, Eagle County is bringing chips and dips, Aspen is trying to agree on side dishes and Basalt is making the salad.

Stowe and Whitsitt hope to make the gathering an annual event. If it works this year, they will bring it back next year, Whitsitt said. If it flops, they’ll try again, she said.

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