Egos abound in mayoral bid
The temperature outside may be cold but as election season heats up, there will be plenty of hot air circulating to keep us warm.I was starting to break a sweat already last week. What a production the announcements of the announcements for mayoral candidates were. The hopefuls appeared all-important, egocentric and quite frankly, self-absorbed. I’m already sick of it and it’s just getting started.But I shouldn’t complain – the election season provides us journalists with plenty of fodder to print, and the discussions in the newsroom provide much-needed comic relief. That’s not to say that the issues are not serious, but all too often the candidates take themselves way too seriously.Last week Torre, a Plum TV host and tennis instructor (he’s also an Aspen City Councilman for those who haven’t heard of him) was complaining around town about unfair coverage on the race for mayor and City Council, according to my sources. Here we go. We aren’t even two weeks into this and Torre is already accusing local journalists of being biased – I think the word he used was “predisposed.” His first complaint was that his mug shot was upside down in a recent feature story about potential mayoral candidates. It was a graphic element in which possible hopefuls’ photos were placed in small circles. Torre couldn’t help thinking that his photo was placed upside down on purpose. He also couldn’t help thinking that his name was omitted on purpose in a story last week about announcements by Tim Semrau and Mick Ireland that they were each running for mayor.His concerns are valid and are worth pointing out to the powers-that-be in the local newsrooms because it will only make the coverage better in the long run. But I hate to tell you, Torre, the newsroom and production department don’t have enough time or organization to do anything on purpose. Mistakes don’t happen on purpose. My advice is to get over it, move on and grow a thicker skin. There is no conspiracy against you – at least in the newsroom of the Aspen Times. But if you keep splitting hairs and focusing on the minutiae, there very well could be. If you say this isn’t about ego, then show us through your actions.Don’t get me wrong; I like Torre. I think he brings a much-needed energy to local politics and I believe he cares about the community. I suggest that perhaps he should reconsider his consideration on a bid for mayor and run for another term as a city councilman. It will be extremely difficult – if not completely impossible – to beat Mick Ireland, who has established himself as a career politician in the Roaring Fork Valley for well over a decade.Regardless of whether you have been paying attention to what Mick has done (or not done) over the years, he has created such a broad base of support that it would take an act of God to beat him at the polls. “Mick’s Machine” has been a catchphrase in local politics for years by both friends and foes that have speculated on just how much power he actually wields.There are many theories on just exactly what the machine is and its impact. Over the years, I have quoted detractors of Mick, who typically refer to the machine when things don’t go their way. I never fully understood the context in which they were speaking. But I got a pretty clear picture of the machine at work this past fall when I helped former Mayor and City Councilwoman Rachel Richards campaign for Pitkin County Commissioner – a seat held by Mick for years. Unable to vote since I had just moved back and unable to influence the election because I was an unemployed journalist, I figured I would do some grassroots campaigning as my contribution.Rachel asked me to canvass by placing campaign literature on doors the weekend before Election Day. Campaign headquarters were at Mick’s house. He opened up his home to dozens of volunteers and while we organized the materials, Mick sat upstairs on the computer deciphering districts, polls and making other political analyses. And the effort mattered – Richards won by a mere 300 votes.The guy lives and breathes this stuff. Not only does he have his finger on the pulse of all things political, but also his supporters are vast and powerful. For every high-profile supporter, there are a hundred people behind him who will throw their money and time toward whatever cause they are directed to support.Torre, Tim, et. al. have no chance against that. Sorry guys, it’s reality. I’m not saying Mick is a shoo-in; people should try, at least, to keep the debate lively and the issues at the forefront. We need a healthy debate. We need to hold these all-important politicos’ feet to the fire by scrutinizing their campaign promises and not let them use hot-button issues like the Entrance to Aspen as their main platform because we all know nothing is going to happen with it.As we head into the election season, let’s try not to get so hot and bothered by the petty politics and get to the core of what matters. And be prepared to conserve your energy when the hot air starts blowing.E-mail Sack at email@example.com
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Teachers are underpaid. They can’t find housing. Turnover is unacceptably high. If you are a teacher in Aspen today, you face losing your entire current work group five years hence.