Ward Hauenstein claims Aspen City Council seat in runoff election | AspenTimes.com

Ward Hauenstein claims Aspen City Council seat in runoff election

Ward Hauenstein on the phone with his wife Mimi after potentially securing the second Aspen City Council seat Tuesday night at City Hall. The unofficial results were Hauenstein with 928 and Torre at 899.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

Ward Hauenstein mustered enough votes to edge challenger Torre in Tuesday’s runoff for Aspen City Council.

Unofficial results showed Hauenstein collecting 928 votes to the 899 cast for Torre.

Hauenstein will be sworn in June 12 — some five months after he declared in the first week of February he was gunning for seat on a City Council that he often criticized for lacking transparency and holding too many meetings outside of the public.

Aspen election history was not on Hauenstein’s side in the runoff. No candidate has made up a deficit in a runoff election after gaining fewer votes than their opponent in the general election.

Hauenstein and Torre qualified for the runoff as the second two highest vote-getters in the May election.

In that contest, incumbent City Councilwoman Ann Mullins won outright with 1,018 votes, topping the 45 percent-plus-one-vote threshold needed to avoid the runoff. Torre’s 973 votes fell a dozen votes shy of reaching the 985-vote benchmark; Hauenstein was third with 895 votes.

Unseated was one-term Councilman Art Daily, who generated 635 votes in the first election.

Moments after his triumph was announced by Clerk Linda Manning in the council’s meeting room at City Hall, Hauenstein was met with congratulatory words from Councilman Bert Myrin and Mullins. He’ll join those two and Mayor Steve Skadron and Adam Frisch, who endorsed Hauenstein, on the board.

Hauenstein said he worked a contact list of 2,200 voters in the days leading up to Tuesday.

“I targeted the people that were likely to vote,” he said.

One of his first tasks on council will be to launch a task force to “look at different solutions for workforce housing,” he said, adding he wants to “optimize the housing we have.”

Hauenstein was a key player in the defeat of the Base2 Lodge in November 2015 and the Aspen hydro plant in November 2012.

He also has floated the idea of city government holding deadbeat business owners more accountable for their debts to vendors, vowing to start a discussion about stripping them of their business licenses if they don’t make good on their bills.

He also has argued that Aspen voters, should it ever come to it, have a say in whether the city should dam Castle and Maroon creeks.

Meanwhile, Torre, a former city councilman of eight years who was seeking a return to Aspen politics, said he didn’t expect the outcome but accepted it nonetheless.

“I was surprised with the results and what it means for Aspen,” he said. “But I have nothing but hope at this point. The community is supporting Ward on council, but I will continue to speak about my messages on affordable housing, the environment, community building and local business support.”

Both candidates were critical of city government, and shared similar views on how Aspen should be governed.

“Torre has a lot of positions that are hard to argue with,” Hauenstein said at a May 31 candidate forum. “There’s not a lot I disagree with.”