AT endorsement: Vote Torre for Aspen mayor
Mick Ireland’s six-year reign over Aspen government is coming to an end, and now the city’s voters are faced with six choices as to who will succeed him as mayor. There are pros and cons associated with each candidate, but to us only one person is uniquely prepared to take on the job — and that’s Councilman Torre.
Torre, 43, has served two four-year City Council terms successfully, pushing forward environmental initiatives and providing a balanced view on development issues. He has not been afraid to take on somewhat unpopular causes, such as his call two years ago to reduce plastic-bag waste, which led to a ban on plastic-bag distribution at the city’s two grocery stores, requiring shoppers to change their behavior by using recyclable bags or paying a small fee to obtain paper bags.
He was the lone council vote in 2009 against Aspen Valley Hospital’s concept for a larger campus, an expansion project that is under intense scrutiny today now that the community has a visible picture (the second of four phases is nearing completion) of its magnitude. He believes in limited growth downtown, recently arguing for a ban on free-market residential development (expensive penthouses) while supporting other types of uses (office, affordable housing, lodging) seen as the key to keeping the city economically vital. He was one of only two votes last month in support of campaign-donation transparency, defeated by three other council members (also running for mayor) who wanted to postpone the issue until after the current election cycle.
Overall, we like Torre’s voting record on the council and his approach to the issues. He does his homework on government matters ahead of time and already has a list of prepared questions when the discussions start. His tone with residents and city staff strikes a cordial note, but he wants to get to the bottom of things and doesn’t waste the community’s time with an overabundance of flattery or verbosity.
To get a true picture of Torre’s assets as a public servant and a leader, one also should look at his presence outside the government realm. He has boundless energy, and despite a hectic work and council schedule, he is always a presence at community events and social functions, a positive way of staying in touch with the people he represents. Indeed, he cares deeply about Aspen; one only needs to see him on a warm summer day, using his personal time to sweep the muck away from the base of the “dancing water fountain” in the downtown pedestrian mall, to know about his passion and commitment.
Steve Skadron, who also is running for mayor, is an extremely dedicated council member as well. He speaks eloquently to the issues at hand, and he tends to vote with his heart, consistently representing the residents of Aspen who don’t want to see their town overrun by development interests. But Skadron has two years left on his council term and his presence there is sorely needed in order to maintain the balance that is required between those who want to preserve Aspen’s historic character and those who would seek to turn it into a developer’s drafting table. If he is elected mayor, his council seat will be subject to appointment by the new council incarnation, a process that ought to be discarded in favor of special election.
Though Torre has served on the council for eight years, his 20 years living and working in the Aspen area have provided him with extra knowledge and experience that will serve him well as mayor. “We are good, but we can still improve,” Torre wrote The Aspen Times in response to a list of questions. “I seek to bring unity, strengthen community, promote prosperity and create opportunity.”
Torre has the skills and the drive not only to lead the City Council for the next two years but also to bring together the city’s disparate factions that recently have grown further apart. A vote for Torre on Election Day Tuesday, is in the best interests of Aspen and all who cherish what it stands for.
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