Guest commentary: Aspen council candidate Richards touts experience, professionalism | AspenTimes.com

Guest commentary: Aspen council candidate Richards touts experience, professionalism

Rachel E. Richards
Guest commentary
Rachel Richards

With the resignation of the city manager, assistant city manager and other staff losses, and a track record of failed initiatives and uncertain direction, the incoming Aspen City Council must focus on restoring stability, clear purpose and effective use of public tax dollars.

On March 5, Aspen voters choose their new leadership for city government. I’m running for one of two City Council seats, and am asking for your vote to bring my skills, experience and commitment to the challenges facing Aspen in 2019.

I intend for the city to be actively involved in the county’s planning for the airport redevelopment to fully vet what improvements are needed and the community’s expectations for aviation services.

I see unmet needs the city must focus on such as the shortage of early-childhood education and infant care facilities, and the growing number of uninsured workers facing some of the nation’s highest individual health insurance rates.

I believe Aspen must begin designing the BMC West affordable housing site and start building phase III of Burlingame Village. The need for housing is acute and the time is now to give families a chance to stay here. Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority can and must do a better job ensuring that housing is being used by people who live here.

I think with cooperation, collaboration and compromise we can resolve the capital reserves and maintenance issues of ownership affordable housing in a fair, realistic and cost effective manner.

I’ll continue to strengthen the connections between Aspen and Pitkin County on social and environmental goals such as increased mental-health and substance-abuse intervention programs, enhanced composting, recycling and management of storm runoff and increased coordination with our housing and watershed protection programs.

I put down Aspen roots 40 years ago and my history includes persistently seeing community projects to completion. I’ve worked with our school district and private sector to secure the Yellow Brick for Early Childhood Education. I’ve worked regionally, through multiple votes, to see the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority grow from a local bus system to a regional transportation authority with bus rapid transit service to help alleviate congestion.

I’ve initiated programs anticipating future need: creation of the Healthy Rivers and Streams Fund for watershed protection, the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program to reduce emissions, boosting the city’s Open Space program to prevent development on Smuggler Mountain and saving the Red Brick School for arts, nonprofits and indoor gymnasium activities.

Now, it’s imperative that we restore professionalism, consistency and a clear sense of purpose to City Council as they hire and guide new management to restore community relations, trust and efficient use of taxpayer dollars in concert with community needs and values.

I’m running for City Council because Aspen is my home, there is more work to do, and the stakes are ever higher as we plan our future. I respectfully ask for your vote to bring my skills, experience, professionalism and commitment to the challenges facing Aspen in 2019.

Leading up to the March 5 municipal election, The Aspen Times is publishing one guest commentary from each candidate for city council and mayor. Richards’ website is http://www.voterachaelrichards.com and she can be reached at rachelrichards@comcast.net.


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