Aspen Times Editorial: Whitsitt, Schwoerer, Schendler and Leavitt for Basalt

Basalt voters have some clear distinctions among the two candidates for mayor and six candidates for three council seats in the April 5 election.

Mayoral candidate Rick Stevens and council candidates Leroy Duroux and Herschel Ross propose a path that works for 95 percent of America. Their philosophy tends to call for approving growth and trusting that community benefits would result.

We believe Stevens, Duroux and Ross truly have the best intentions for the community at heart, but we’re endorsing different candidates who provide a vision beyond the bricks-and-mortar approach.

Incumbent Mayor Jacque Whitsitt has been a firewall against rampant development during three terms on the council and another as mayor. She always looks at development through the lens of preserving Basalt’s small-town character. We appreciate her efforts to build a legacy park at the Pan and Fork property, one that can give the town much-needed definition, while allowing limited development there. She is actively seeking high-density development at the nearby ReStore property, former home of Clark’s Market.

While we don’t always like the condescending tone Whitsitt can sometimes take with staff and other council members, we think her heart is in the right place.

Stevens has myriad experience and is entrenched as a member of the community. Even with grown children, you’ll still see him at local sports games and family-friendly events. He is thoughtful and has a vision for Basalt the community, but we have trouble with his decision to support the tax subsidy for Willits and his apparent pro-development approach, which is why Whitsitt nudges him out for our endorsement.

For council, we endorse Katie Schwoerer, Auden Schendler and Rob Leavitt. Schwoerer is a quiet leader, as demonstrated through a prior council term and activism against a midvalley recreation center and sprawl development proposals. Her career in finance would bring a helpful perspective to the council.

Schendler hasn’t held elected office, but he is no stranger to public debates and pressure under fire as Aspen Skiing Co.’s vice president of sustainability. He is a moderate who would bring a welcomed combination of business acumen and environmental smarts.

Our endorsement for the third and final council seat was a tough call. We like candidate Jennifer Riffle’s gusto and the fact that she is the youngest in the field. However, we believe she would be well served by gaining seasoning by participating in town committees and making another run in two years.

Incumbent Leavitt has taken a well-reasoned approach to the position of council member over the past four years. He is a moderate who is a little too quick to embrace development, but he has shown he would listen to the public, and he works to get the town to assist the schools whenever possible.

Vote for Schwoerer, Schendler and Leavitt.

The Aspen Times editorial board consists of Publisher Samantha Johnston, Editor Lauren Glendenning, Managing Editor Rick Carroll and community members Bob Braudis and Kathryn Koch.