Guest commentary: Aspen mayor checks in after first 100 days in office |

Guest commentary: Aspen mayor checks in after first 100 days in office

Guest commentary

This week, the City Council will close its first 100 days in office. I am honored to be a part of this council, as well as excited to share with you my thoughts on where we started, what we have done and what is next as we settle into our roles as your representatives.

At the outset, I want to thank you for the great honor and responsibility of being your elected mayor. I have strived to be humble in my approach to this office, and have set my focus on the immediate tasks at hand like identifying common goals, team building, setting agendas, running meetings and providing organizational support. I am learning, and assure you that I will work to improve every day to represent this community.

It was a unique time to be elected. Aspen had an interim city manager, and an interim structure for our administration. Although this could have been challenging for our community, we are fortunate to have the dedicated Aspen city staff that helped guide us through this transitional period, and shared in the responsibilities of continuing services and operations so vital to Aspen.

In our search for our new city manager, we outlined and implemented a nationwide search that included a significant amount of input from our community. In the end, our search was a success and Sara Ott is now our new city manager. We could not ask for a more qualified, experienced and committed city manager. Working in conjunction with this council, she will facilitate and implement the policy direction that represents the best decisions for our community.

My council members are four very smart, dedicated and hardworking individuals. I am excited to work with this team. We share many common goals, and with collaborative representation and joint initiatives, we can do great things for our community. I truly believe that this collaboration includes you, the community. I ask for your input, and know that each council member feels the same. Please, reach out to us with any of your issues, ideas or comment because that is the way this works best. We want to hear from you.

The council started this term by attending a workday retreat to identify common goals, priorities and aspirations. We are still refining those identified commonalities and applying them to budget and planning processes. We are developing a values and priorities based budget process that will enhance our ability to address community concerns and implement community goals in our decision making.

On current community issues, we have hit the ground running. A top priority is enhancing communication, outreach and transparency. We have a new communications director, Tracy Truelove, who will revitalize communication with the community and internally. I am proud of the progress we have made, including providing for public comment at work sessions, setting regular office hours, refining outreach and meeting with citizens where they are. This council is dedicated to collaboration and inclusive governance. Thank you to all those who have reached out to me about their questions, comments and suggestions.

Affordable housing is a perennial item for our community. We came in at a transitional time for APCHA. The council has a trained eye on both the program development as well as achieving more community, workforce and affordable housing. In the past 100 days, we have forwarded the projects that were in motion and we have started the next projects with outreach, information gathering and planning. One area of focus is land-use code improvements to create inclusive building regulations. It is my hope that with renewed collaboration with businesses, development interests and the county, we will make great progress to keep locals living in Aspen. I encourage you to go on to the city website or attend an open house to learn more about the projects we are working on.

Our environmental commitment is as strong as ever. I am so happy to report that we have great work going in to new environmental initiatives, including reduction of energy consumption, waste management, transportation solutions, building requirements and more. Effective environmentalism requires all of us to make good choices. Our job is to make those choices available and affordable for you. We at council are dedicated to making decisions through a lens of environmental stewardship and enhancing our charge as a leader in green policymaking.

We have picked up the ball on many other community priorities, as well. We are steadfast in our pursuit of child care facilities. We continue to work on transit and traffic solutions. We are focused on helping locally owned and locally serving businesses. We are listening to our citizens and working on the issues that are important to each person. We will continue to support and enhance the history, legacy, character and quality of life in Aspen.

Please come to me with any community questions, comments or concerns. I look forward to the next 100 days.

Torre was elected mayor in a runoff in April. He can be reached at