It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s Red Ant |

It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s Red Ant

Aspen, CO Colorado

Aspen newspapers have published a lot of stories lately about the spring City Council election, as new people announce their candidacies and positions. This happens at the beginning of every election cycle as the roster of competitors takes shape.

This week, however, there was an announcement of a slightly different kind, which has a variety of implications for the mayor’s race and the contests for two open council seats: The Red Ant announced her candidacy for mayor.

Of course, the Red Ant is not a person, but the name of a blog created by City Hall critics Marilyn Marks and Elizabeth Milias. For the election campaign, the two have created a cartoon ant that we expect to see often between now and May 5. During the last year or so, the Ant has built a following of like-minded Aspenites and become an influential voice in city affairs. So it makes perfect sense that Marks and Milias would want a role in the spring election; it wouldn’t be the same without them.

However, there are limits to the Red Ant’s involvement, because the Red Ant is not a true candidate.

So, for example, it’s fine for Marks and Milias to advocate for certain candidates, to write letters, raise questions, push for certain policies and generally make noise. But the Ant does not get a seat at the table when candidates gather for a forum, a debate, or a question-and-answer session. That is a privilege afforded only to those who are willing to stick their neck out, file the paperwork and run for office.

At this point, neither Marks nor Milias has announced a candidacy or registered as a candidate for mayor or council; thus far, at least, they have preferred to influence the civic dialogue from the outside. The Red Ant’s mock candidacy falls into the same category. That means either Marks and Milias sit in the audience on “Meet the Candidates Night,” or they organize their own forum and orchestrate the proceedings (which, to their credit, they have done before).

We’re happy to have the Red Ant as part of Aspen’s political landscape, but bringing a cartoon insect to an actual debate would be an insult to the real candidates.

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