Aspen Times Weekly: Skadron, at your service | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Times Weekly: Skadron, at your service

by Karl Herchenroeder

Aspen City Council: Frisch is in; Mryin and Ireland in runoff

Official results for two open Aspen City Council seats

Adam Frisch: 1,208

Bert Myrin: 994

Mick Ireland: 813

Marcia Goshorn: 443

Tom McCabe: 382

Keith Goode: 342

Andrew Israel: 274

Frisch has clinched his seat, while Myrin and Ireland will compete for the second slot in a June 2 runoff.

Referendum 1: Voters to decide future development variances

Official results for Referendum 1

Yes: 1,300 (53.2 percent)

No: 1,145 (46.8 percent)

The Home Rule Charter amendment, spurred by Referendum 1, went into effect on May 7. The measure makes Aspen’s electorate the final authority on Aspen City Council-granted variances on height, mass, parking, affordable-housing and viewplanes. It applies to all commercial zone but exempts residential development.

Though Steve Skadron won handily in his effort to defend the Aspen mayor’s seat, earning 58 percent of the vote on May 5, he still wonders what he could have done differently to have swayed the 1,048 people who voted against him.

Had the margin between he and challenger Torre been razor-thin, Skadron said recently from his office at City Hall, it would have made him curious. But moving into his second term in June, the mayor stands by the body of work from his council, which he said speaks to the margin of victory.

“What you love is every vote,” Skadron said. “Then I started thinking what could I do better or differently to garner the confidence of the thousand people who didn’t vote for me.”

The fact that Skadron and fellow incumbent Councilman Adam Frisch won so decisively may have come as a surprise for some, given the success of Referendum 1 at the polls. Both were adamantly opposed to the Home Rule Charter amendment, which moves Aspen’s electorate ahead of the council as the final authority for land-use applications with variances in specific areas.

Skadron’s fear with the referendum is that scrutiny of applications will leave city council chambers and enter the public arena, where special interests could launch expensive, misinformation campaigns during unnecessary elections. Even with that in mind, he said Aspen will survive and he intends to honor the community’s will.

While Skadron said he feels privileged that the residents of Aspen have placed their trust in him for a second term, he is still baffled by some of the community feedback he’s experiences in the past two years.

“Now matter how well-intentioned you are, no matter how much you invest in an outcome, a percentage of the community still finds a reason to object,” Skadron said. “Maybe my opposition to the charter amendment had something to do with it, but I think back to, ‘What vote did I make that upset so many?’”

Some in the community might praise Skadron’s “no” vote on Ordinance 19, the controversial lodging package that was repealed in the face of a referendum. They also might regard his ability to whittle projects like Hotel Aspen down as a strengths.

But his critics cite his appointment of Councilman Dwayne Romero as one misstep. In 2013, when Skadron left his council seat, the vacancy was nearly decided by a dice roll because the council was locked in a 2-2 tie over the decision. Rather than leave it to chance, Skadron opted to give his support to Romero instead of retired banker Howie Mallory. If some regard Skadron as a slow-growth advocate, others regard Romero as falling on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Despite Romero’s voting record, Skadron stands behind the appointment, saying it signifies his desire for principle over popularity. He called it a leadership moment, a chance to show the community that he is a mayor ready to serve the entire community, not just one segment.

“I wanted those who disagree with me to know that I was open to their opinion, and I wanted all to feel it was an inclusive environment,” Skadron said. “Creativity comes from any place.”

One regret for Skadron is the handling of the Centennial affordable-housing complex. Since 2009, the two sides have been in disagreement over $3.2 million in repairs attributed to water intrusion. The Centennial homeowners association credits the damage to inherent structural flaws from when the complex was built in 1985, while the city argues that the owners haven’t invested properly in routine maintenance.

Skadron said the city has a role in facilitating an outcome at Centennial and expressed regret at the impasse. The question will be how much the city intends to invest in the complex, if at all, and the consensus so far has been that the government should not be bailing out homeowners.

“My last conversation with them was, ‘Please come back with another offer,’” Skadron said. “I think it speaks to broader issues in the whole affordable-housing program, and it’s critical to our success as a community, so we need to ensure that it’s operating at its maximum effectiveness.”

Skadron, who served four years on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and six years on the council before winning the mayor’s seat in 2013, said it was never his intention to seek a role on council. His interest began in the early 2000s, when then-Mayor Helen Klanderud discussed with him the role of community service. Klanderud suggested he volunteer for Planning and Zoning.

Skadron said it’s quite different to say “I’m serving the community in the role as mayor” than it is to say “I am the mayor.” Sitting at the council table, he said, is not about using it as a political platform but an opportunity to serve the best long-term interests of the community. As far as seeking a third term, Skadron said he’s flattered at the suggestion.

“But I would need to be successful in a second term before I would consider running for a third term,” he said.


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