Basalt council candidate: Ready to carry sustainability torch, other initiatives |

Basalt council candidate: Ready to carry sustainability torch, other initiatives

Elyse Hottel
Guest Commentary
Elyse Hottel
Sara Tie

Hello neighbors, fellow Basaltines and friends of Basalt, my name is Elyse Hottel and I am running for a seat on Town Council to bring new perspective and make sure that your voice is heard: A fresh choice for community voice! Do you want to increase vibrancy while preserving small-town character? Balance density over sprawl? Develop affordable housing opportunities? Be good stewards of the natural environment? Unify Basalt both connectively and emotionally? These are the things I will work toward if you “Elect Elyse.”

Why do I want those things? Because I heard you say that you wanted those things through my participation in the public outreach and engagement process of the Basalt master plan. That is what inspired me to run for Town Council. In addition to the conversations I had with many of you at the five open houses, I had the privilege to read and collate the many comments and surveys collected as part of that process through my work. (The engagement appendix is 407 pages long.) I heard encouraging themes like “small-town feel,” “good people,” “embrace the rivers,” but also frustration: “lack of leadership,” “stagnant,” “divided” and I wondered whether the people of Basalt were really being heard.

Thus, I would be privileged to represent you, to give you voice, with no personal agenda, but with a very personal stake in this unique community. I believe the role of elected officials is to represent our constituents. As the town evolves, so will its needs and desires, and the only way to track that evolution is to hear from its people. I would like to see multiple avenues for capturing public comment to ensure community will is translated to council action — particularly online, like the Let’s Talk Basalt website, without the limitations of time and geography. Face to face is best, but not always feasible.

While you may or may not recognize my name, I have been around the valley for over 10 years, serving as the Basalt Community Garden manager for the past two (where I will be playing in the dirt again this year if you care to join), working for the Wilderness Land Trust and in the Climate Action department of the city of Aspen, where I authored the 2011 greenhouse gas inventory report and conceived the Hotel Energy Efficiency Makeover Contest. I also worked for the sustainability division of the city of Boulder, collaborating with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to calculate and display optimal rooftop solar capacity for every building in the city.

In a recent conversation with a Basalt resident, he expressed that with the departure of council members Katie Schwoerer and Auden Schendler, there is perhaps a sustainability vacuum on council. With the above experience and an MPA in environmental science and policy — a degree created by Columbia University for the express purpose of translating environmental science into policy action — I am prepared and excited to take up that mantle, weighing decisions through an environmental, social and economic lens, advocating for the green economy.

You will not see my name on yard signs or door-hangers — throw-away items are not compatible with my environmental ethic. I had hoped to have the opportunity to meet more of you in person, hosting pop-up events around town and knocking on doors, but fate, or rather a prolific parasitic organism (coronavirus), is conspiring against me, so I am taking the appropriate steps to keep the community safe during this challenging time. Thus, I am communicating my message to you the old-fashioned way — in print.

I’m Elyse Hottel ( and I approve this message!

Editor’s note: Leading up to the Basalt election April 7, The Aspen Times is publishing one guest commentary from each candidate. Hottel can be reached at