Two solid candidates; one tough choice | AspenTimes.com

Two solid candidates; one tough choice

We’d like to start off by reminding people that there is an important election next Tuesday, pitting incumbent Aspen City Council member Tony Hershey against challenger Torre.

After talking with each candidate at length last week, The Aspen Times editorial staff came away impressed with both candidates.

They are passionate, willing to listen to their constituents, and work with fellow City Council members to achieve what they believe is best for Aspen.

Torre brings enthusiasm to his candidacy, even if he hasn’t quite nailed his ideas down in detail, or figured out exactly how to achieve them.

Hershey has a strong desire to spend the next four years finishing projects that he or others have started since he was first elected in 1999.

We considered giving both of them a thumbs up, at one point. However, as a newspaper, it’s important to lend our support to one candidate, and in this case we give the nod to Tony Hershey.

What struck several of us about Hershey is his willingness to say what he thinks about an issue. There are not a lot of politicians here (or anywhere) who are willing to clearly speak their minds the way Hershey has on issues ranging from growth to affordable housing to transportation.

On the question of how Aspen should or shouldn’t evolve as a community and resort, Hershey made it clear to us that he doesn’t think Aspen can go back to the 1970s or even stay the same. It will change, and should change as residents see fit.

Hershey believes Aspen needs to invest in affordable housing, transit and its business core in order to keep it vital and interesting for those who choose to live here or just visit. But if the voters want to turn Aspen into something else altogether – even a retirement community for the super-rich – Hershey said he would work to help them realize that vision.

“Change is inevitable, but we need to channel it in a way that suits our community,” he said.

It is also clear from watching and reporting on him over the last four years that Hershey studies the issues before the council, debates them with constituents and fellow council members, and then urges the council and the community to move forward.

That may be what leads to the loudest criticism we’ve heard about Hershey – his brash, sometimes rude, behavior. This is a valid complaint. But he is a man of action and he is passionate about his job, which we believe are the most important criteria.

Hershey has also worked effectively for the community both regionally and nationally. Although he built his political reputation fighting the plan to build a valleywide rail system, Hershey has become an avid supporter of the regional bus plan.

Most recently, he used his Republican party affiliation to garner federal support for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s proposal for a bus rapid transit system with cleaner buses and more frequent service.

Although we believe Torre could generate interest in city politics among younger Aspenites and could help change City Council dynamics for the better, he hasn’t served on any of the task forces or volunteer boards that would allow him to hit the ground running. We need Hershey’s experience to get Burlingame moving, to get our transit problems solved and to improve Aspen’s future economic prospects.

On June 3, vote Tony Hershey for City Council.


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