Carroll: An endorsement for Steve Torre |

Carroll: An endorsement for Steve Torre

So here we are, one week away from Aspen’s mayoral runoff, and as hard as Torre and Steve Skadron try to separate from each other, I’m just not seeing a major distinction here.

So what happens when two runoff candidates share more in common than what separates them?

The nitpicking begins, and any perceived misstep by either Skadron or Torre faces the potential to be doused with Miracle-Gro.

Torre certainly didn’t do himself any favors by, as reported in the Aspen Daily News last week, suggesting to Skadron that he step down from the runoff. That way the city would save the estimated $30,000 it takes to stage the runoff, Torre would be mayor, and Skadron still would have two more years on his council seat.

Torre’s actions were not much different from playground politics, where one fourth-grader thinks he’s outsmarting his playmates by asking them to make him team captain while everybody else will still get to play.

But let’s not get too carried away here.

If anything, Torre’s failed proposition demonstrates how badly he wants to be mayor. And that shouldn’t be considered a bad thing unless it means he’ll say whatever it takes to get elected and later forgets all of the promises he made.

Skadron, meanwhile, didn’t exactly help his cause at a May 20 work session regarding tighter security at the Yellow Brick Building, where nearly 150 preschool students attend classes.

The proposed security measures were in reaction to December’s mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

At that work session, Skadron suggested that the shooter’s mother worked at the school. That’s what the cable-TV outlets were erroneously reporting in the hours after the shooting, which makes me wonder if Skadron stopped following the story then. That’s his choice, but one would hope that he would’ve been more prepared for a work session concerning preschool security and the safety of our children.

But again, I’m nitpicking, which is the problem here.

We’ve got two candidates who really aren’t that different, so the voters and press are burdened with trying to find anything that separates these guys.

Skadron’s supporters claim that Torre comes to meetings unprepared. And when he does weigh in on an issue, he waits to hear what everyone else says before he chimes in. That’s hardly becoming of a leader, Skadron’s camp contends.

Torre’s fans, meanwhile, say Skadron is indecisive, pontificates too much and has difficulty taking a stand.

Another knock against Torre, at least according to Skadron’s base, is that the one-named candidate can’t be taken seriously and that he won’t wield much influence as mayor.

Voters for Torre will say that Skadron is just a byproduct of the Mick Machine — in reference to Mick Ireland’s ability to target select registered voters and raise lots of campaign money — and that he’ll be a clone of the outgoing mayor.

But none of these arguments holds any real weight.

To those who say Torre can’t be taken seriously, then what do you tell the voters who have elected him to council multiple times?

And to those who contend Skadron is part of the Mick Machine, is that so bad that he has the support of one of Aspen’s most influential elected officials over the past two decades?

The runoff election has become an exercise in semantics. Skadron and Torre share the values that many of us have: Protect the environment, contain runaway development and keep Aspen as the exceptional place that it is.

For every personal knock against Torre, there’s one against Skadron and vice versa.

Too bad Steve Torre is not running. He’d definitely get my vote.

Rick Carroll is editor of The Aspen Times. He takes comments, complaints, questions and news tips at

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