Ward Hauenstein to run for Aspen City Council
February 2, 2017
Aspen activist Ward Hauenstein has beaten City Council on a few issues, and now he wants to join it.
Hauenstein said Wednesday he plans to run for a seat on the Aspen City Council in the May 2 election. His campaign started with his picking up paperwork from the City Clerk's Office this week. He'll need to collect the signatures of at least 25 Aspen registered voters to make the ballot.
Mayor Steve Skadron, who is up for re-election for what would be his third and final two-year term, already has secured the needed signatures to be on the May ballot, City Clerk Linda Manning said.
Along with Skadron, incumbents Art Daily and Ann Mullins are up for re-election on council. Neither have confirmed that they plan to seek a second and final term, which is four years for council members. Daily has, however, picked up his campaign paperwork, Manning said. Last week, Daily said he had yet to decide whether he will seek re-election.
Hauenstein, 65, has no experience as an elected official, but he often attends and speaks at City Council meetings and played an instrumental role in the election defeats of both the Base2 Lodge in November 2015 and the Aspen hydro plant in November 2012. He also is a previous member of the Aspen Election Commission and currently volunteers at his church, Aspen Chapel.
"I think it's time for me," he said of running for council. "And I'm running because I feel like I have some more time in my life. My life is slowing down a bit, and I have a bit more time."
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While Aspen's political issues will be fleshed out over the course of the campaign, Hauenstein, who has lived in Aspen for 40 years, said his chief objective is to bring more transparency to City Hall. He claimed that the City Council meets privately, or in executive sessions, more often than necessary.
"I just feel like there needs to be more open government and not a lot of executive sessions," he said. "Transparency is important to me."
He also said the potential for the city damming both the Maroon and Castle creeks concerns him, and he would push for Aspen's voters to make the final call on what has become a contentious issue of late. The city in October made filings in state water court to preserve its water rights to build dams on both streams.
"It's really important that the citizens have a right to vote on the dams," he said.
Hauenstein, who specializes in computer work, also said he wants local businesses afforded some protection by City Hall when it comes to deadbeat startups that don't pay their bills. He met last fall with some city officials to discuss potentially stripping business licenses from companies that do business in Aspen and don't satisfy all of their bills.
"I would propose an ordinance that protects a local business from an upstart predator," he said.
Manning said nominating signatures for both council and mayor could be turned in starting Tuesday. The deadline to submit the signatures to the Clerk's Office for verification is March 13, she said.