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Locals rule with ballots

Erik SkarvanAspen, CO Colorado

Some say locals don’t rule Aspen anymore. They say Aspen’s locals have sold out or been priced out, packed up and left. And the ones who have somehow survived have to work so much they don’t have time to be involved. Or they don’t care. Apparently, we’ve lost our soul. It’s a done deal. Help! Well, I don’t buy it. Do you? I see evidence of a vibrant community almost every day I’m in town. Granted, it’s not the funky, eclectic community it was in 1982, my freshman year. Things change. Sadly, many locals have been pushed out of town. But, Aspen still does have its share of characters and a solid core group of residents. Although new money has rolled in to scrape and replace, return on investment is more of a priority than ever, and the era of the second-home owner is upon us, it’s very important to note that part-time residents can’t vote in our elections. Development pressure and the big-money influence still exist of course, often operating behind the scenes. I’ve recently learned that some even believe in “social Darwinism,” which is basically survival of the financially fittest. Those folks apparently believe that financial success determines your net value and worthiness of living in Aspen. In addition, some of those same people are sick and tired of “subsidizing the locals’ lifestyles with our taxes.” They’re working to creatively dismantle our affordable housing program. I’m not sure what taxes they’re referring to or the likelihood of destroying the affordable housing program, when it’s so broadly supported. Bottom line is that we wouldn’t have a community without it. Enough said. Regardless, we locals need to push back against those forces by voting, using our value system. For starters, many of us realize that money is not the most important thing in life. We value an amazing, healthy, mountain lifestyle, and the time to enjoy it over the relentless obsession for money and materialism, which has proven to be a false avenue to happiness and fulfillment. We value volunteerism, truly giving of ourselves to receive happiness. When we give in this way, we receive. I could go on, but you get the idea. Our values often clash with the value system of nonresidents. Against the odds, Aspen remains a great community. That’s why we struggle to stay here and care so much. It’s most evident during times of crisis or need. Elections are one of those times of need. Our next election on May 8 is a golden opportunity to speak out and claim Aspen as our town. It’s our obligation, a responsibility as citizens of this amazingly unique mountain town, to cast an informed ballot. It’s the least we can do for all the blessings we have, but one of the most important. Every vote counts in a small town. In fact, Aspen elections have been decided by a handful of votes on numerous occasions.So, who are you going to vote for this election? We’re fortunate to have an excellent field of candidates this year. There are several ways, including their websites, local forums, newspapers and television, to get to know them. If we all take the time to vote, there will be no remaining doubt. The locals still rule Aspen! Erik Skarvan is a resident of Aspen.


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