Editorial: Grauer, Kittle and Tennenbaum for Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Editorial: Grauer, Kittle and Tennenbaum for Basalt

Basalt residents will go to the polls Tuesday to select three members for the Town Council.

Although the election is on April Fools’ Day, the candidates are anything but fools. They are a solid field. That makes endorsements tough.

One of our endorsements goes to Mark Kittle, who served on the board from 2004 to 2008, then was appointed last year to fill a vacancy. This newspaper didn’t endorse Kittle in 2004, and his performance showed us we were wrong. Kittle brings an invaluable common-sense approach to the office, and he makes decisions without political posturing.

Kittle, 55, a Roaring Fork Valley native whose family has deep roots in Basalt, said during the campaign that he wants to provide a voice for the longtime local residents. He does a good job.

Another former councilman who left before his time is Gary Tennenbaum, who was elected in 2006 and served one term before deciding not to run again in 2010. Tennenbaum would bring valuable experience to the board from his job as assistant director of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails.

Tennenbaum, 43, also would bring a welcome perspective as a parent. Only one other current board member has children, and Tennenbaum is the only candidate in the election who has a child.

That leaves Richard Duddy, Bernie Grauer and Jeff Orsulak in the running for our final endorsement. Duddy, 62, is an intelligent and gregarious fellow. As the former proprietor of a popular bar and restaurant, and in his current position as a real estate agent, he keeps in contact with a lot of town residents. However, his seemingly singular business approach to all things Basalt concerns us.

Orsulak clearly has worked hard for the job by attending numerous community activities and talking to a lot of people during the campaign. He’s demonstrated prior interest in public service by serving on the Basalt Sanitation District’s board of directors. At 38 years of age he is the youngest of the candidates and likely would bring the perspective from a younger demographic.

Orsulak possesses an unwavering faith that Basalt residents can overcome all their differences of opinion and visions for the town by talking until they reach a mutual agreement. We are somewhat concerned that his emphasis will be too oriented toward building partnerships with the development industry and not enough on the regulatory role that is inherent in the Town Council.

Grauer, 69, has long demonstrated his commitment to public service in Basalt. He joined the library district’s board of directors when it sorely needed someone with his financial expertise. He also served has on the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission for seven years. As the current chairman of that board, he shows professionalism and preparation in running the meetings. On the other side of the ledger, we are concerned that Grauer’s addition to the board would pack it with too many people considered insiders in town government.

Nevertheless, in a close call, we give our final endorsement to Grauer.

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