Will the real Aspen candidates please step up?

The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

So far we’re three candidate forums into election season, and little separates the contestants from one another.

‘Tis the season to play it safe. Or so it appears. Is the Aspen Institute to blame? After all, last year the think tank pitched a campaign for a program that would promote civility in politics. The idea never gained traction, but apparently the six candidates for mayor and four council candidates have taken that to heart.

We’re not asking the candidates to make snide remarks or be rude to one another, but we keep hearing the same rhetoric over and over again – how they support the preservation of small-town character, are passionate about Aspen and want to give back to the community. The fact that these candidates are seeking a low-paying office already tells us that.

Perhaps it’s because of the apparent saturation of candidate forums, the newer ones being put on by special-interest groups. It’s certainly their right to put on these forums – among the sponsors are the Aspen Board of Realtors, the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and the Healthy Community Fund. But these groups, as well-intended as they might be, have clear agendas and want to see what these candidates can do for them.

It is hard not to blame them for staging these forums, but can you imagine if the National Rifle Association wanted to hold a presidential debate? The Sierra Club? Or the National Board of Realtors? There would be no debate because the candidate out of line with these organizations’ agenda wouldn’t dare take the stage.

To the Aspen candidates’ credit, most of them have attended the forums. Maybe that explains what looks like forum fatigue.

Forum season continues Wednesday with ACRA’s event and the Aspen Board of Realtors’ at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. And Thursday night – for those who just can’t get enough – comes The Aspen Times and Aspen Daily News’ Squirm Night, which GrassRoots Television will broadcast.

Squirm Night is a long-running Aspen tradition, but there’s been less and less squirming over the years, either because the questions haven’t been that probing or the candidates’ answers have been flat.

If you have a question for Squirm Night, make sure to sent it to one of the editors of the Aspen papers – or We can’t guarantee to ask your question, but the more insightful it is, the better. And maybe we’ll learn more about our candidates instead of hearing their cookie-cutter answers.