Aspen Times Editorial: Torre is best choice for Aspen’s mayoral seat
In recent years, Aspen City Council has been struggling with communication and solid decision-making and needs a strong leader with conviction and focus.
That’s why we urge voters to vote for Torre, an outsider at the moment but no stranger to Aspen politics as a former councilman for eight years.
Two of the four candidates for mayor have been on the City Council for six and eight years and have contributed to the current council’s troubles, which include a lack of outreach to the community, missteps that led to the staffing upheaval in the City Manager’s Office and what has become a divisive group.
Ann Mullins is in her second four-year term on council, and if not elected as mayor she will remain on council to finish out the final two years of her term.
Adam Frisch is term-limited after eight consecutive years on council, and during his campaign for mayor has spent a lot of time reflecting on the issues where the current council has failed and has vowed to change.
Cale Mitchell is a political newcomer who tried to run for mayor in 2017 but was disqualified because he had not lived within city limits for at least one year. He has no political background and limited business experience.
Torre served two terms on City Council and has run for mayor and lost five times before (2001, 2005, 2007, 2013 and 2015) and lost in the 2017 council race.
As his campaign motto suggests, it’s time for Torre to steer the ship. We have confidence he is the individual who can get things done in a two-year term, including taking the city to a citywide composting. In the past month, The Aspen Times editorial board met with all the candidates running for Aspen City Council as well as attended or hosted forums.
We have endorsed Linda Manning and Rachel Richards to be fresh faces on City Council, and in another move to revamp an ineffective board, we suggest Aspen voters elect Torre as mayor.
Torre’s campaign the past month has included the phrases “We can do better” and “No more initiatives to nowhere.” We believe Torre’s focused leadership and fiery attitude will help him achieve those goals.
Torre has said being on council for eight years and watching from the sidelines the past six years gives him the best perspective to be an effective mayor. We agree.
His critics say he only shows up around City Hall when there is an election. We feel that is an unfair assessment — he has been at council meetings, he attends numerous community events and as a downtown resident, he is immersed in Aspen life and is connected to residents and guests.
He also has been working behind the scenes with staff on composting ideas, as well as other environmentally minded initiatives — something that has been absent in the campaigns of other candidates.
His tenacity is evident in his repeated attempts to earn the vote to represent Aspen as its mayor. Torre’s previous work on council showed initiative to get things done. He had clear priorities and was not afraid to be on the unpopular side of a vote.
Torre is the only mayoral candidate against the Lift One Corridor Plan, which also is on the March 5 ballot, and will be a voice for smart growth. He supports redevelopment in the area but not as proposed with a taxpayer contribution, minimal employee-housing mitigation and a rezoning of land.
He respects Aspen Area Community Plan’s slow-growth philosophy. He pushed for employee-housing action, not just words and can-kicking. On his first term on council, Torre was the deciding “yes” vote for the Burlingame Ranch housing development that is now home to hundreds of people across from Buttermilk.
Torre’s passion for environmental issues led to the ban on plastic bags, which became a national movement, and he helped start the Rio Grande recycling center. He is especially interested in saving the center as Pitkin County is ending its financial partnership this year.
This newspaper endorsed Torre in 2013 when he ran for mayor (and lost to the man he is seeking to replace, Steve Skadron). And we endorsed him in his failed 2017 attempt to return to City Council (he lost by 29 votes in a runoff).
We feel Torre continues to show the qualities City Council needs in its next mayor — he speaks with clarity, is prepared and engaged in discussion, has a clear vision, is open-minded and has a willingness to listen before making a decision. He is respectful but to the point and doesn’t want to waste time on unnecessary discussions.
These characteristics will help City Council return to making smart decisions and keep the town’s best interests at the front of their decision-making. We urge Aspen voters to give Torre the opportunity for the next two years to use his skills and passion to advance the ideals of the community, which include slow growth, protecting quality of life and environmental stewardship.
The Aspen Times editorial board consists of publisher Samantha Johnston, editor David Krause and reporters Rick Carroll, Scott Condon and Carolyn Sackariason.