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Before & after

Andy Stone

It’s Monday, the day before Election Day, so I’m going to write the first part of this Burlingame column before I know how the election goes.I confess, I don’t have a really good feel for what the results will be. I’ve never been good at predicting how Aspen elections will turn out. I think that’s a good thing – elections should be a little wild, a little woolly, a little uncertain. Otherwise, why bother?I know that Burlingame got a pretty solid endorsement from the voters last time around – something like 60 percent to 40 percent in favor – but I realize that was a few years ago and things change.The Aspen population continues to shift as the years go by, and I don’t think it’s changing in a way that favors the working class. (And, yes, I know, it’s hard to describe the people who can afford Aspen’s “affordable” housing as working class.)Still, there could be a lot of residual support for making one last major push on affordable housing – if only so we can all step back, say “That’s that,” and look for something else to fight about.And yet, the opponents have put up a good fight this time. They’ve made a lot of vigorous, solid arguments. They’ve added the always-popular claim that they’re fighting for “good government.”Besides, they got something like 1,000 signatures on their anti-Burlingame petition – and 1,000 votes goes a long way toward an election victory around here. So they certainly could win.But the big question in my mind today is what will happen after the election.First, what will the Burlingame supporters do if the project is voted down?It will be kind of difficult for them to demand a new election. After all, a lot of people have argued that tomorrow’s vote on Burlingame is inappropriate – because we’ve already had one vote on Burlingame. Having a second election to overturn the results of the first election is simply wrong, this argument goes. The voters have spoken. That should be enough.If you’ve taken that position, it’s pretty hard to turn around and say we need a third election to overturn the results of the second election (that overturned the results of the first election).I mean, elections are fun and all that (and they’re a great source of advertising revenue for the newspaper), but we have to stop sometime … don’t we?I suppose the Burlingame backers could just as easily turn around and say, “OK. That’s one vote in favor and one vote against. One-to-one is a tie score – so let’s make it two-out-of-three.”And back to the polls we go … hoping everyone forgets that we’re trying to overturn a clear – and recent – election result.But if Burlingame is approved tomorrow for a second time, I would think it’d be tough for the opponents to call for another go-round at the polls.After all, that would make the election scorecard 2-0 in favor of Burlingame.All the arguments will have been aired – very, very thoroughly. The arguments that Burlingame’s too big, too far out of town and too damaging to the environment have now been made loudly and clearly and twice.And there shouldn’t be any further question of the City Council somehow pulling a fast one and slipping this project by the voters.So it’s hard to figure exactly how the Burlingame opponents could follow an election loss with a demand for another ballot. If they lose, it feels as if they’d have to come out and say, “We don’t care what the voters want. We know they’re wrong … and we’re going to keep fighting until we win one.”That’s a tough case to make. OK. It’s Wednesday morning and I’m back. The voters have spoken. Burlingame got a solid vote of approval – not overwhelming, I guess, but the same 60 percent to 40 percent backing as last time. In some places that’s considered a landslide.And beyond that, J.E. DeVilbiss, the candidate who stood up most strongly for Burlingame – even to the point where he was personally attacked by some Burlingame opponents – was the only City Council candidate to get enough votes for a first-round victory.So, where do we go from here?Let me guess … another election?Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is andy@aspentimes.com


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