Candidate Hauenstein in his own words |

Candidate Hauenstein in his own words

Why am I running for Aspen City Council? The answer is that I love Aspen. I have lived here for 40 years. I met my wife of 36 years in the Bell Mountain lift line. We have two children that were born here, went to school here and both learned to ski at age 3. We, along with a couple of friends, started the Aspen Gymnastics program. We have dedicated our lives and time to raising our girls in this community, endless white-knuckle drives to the Front Range for hockey, gymnastics and soccer included.

I have more time now.

I have been engaged in local issues for many years. When it became apparent to me that things had gone south with our local government and its policies, I fought for what I thought was right. I led the opposition to the Castle Creek Energy Center (hydro plant). The citizens of Aspen supported this effort by overturning the project in a public vote. When City Council approved the Base2 hotel project, across the street from Carl’s, with two and a half times the density allowed by zoning and many other concessions, I again led the opposition to it. After a six-month battle, we defeated Base2 at the polls by a 63 percent to 37 percent margin. Voters next passed Referendum 1 that requires a vote if variances were to be granted by City Council. It is obvious to me that the citizens want zoning to be honored. To its credit, the City Council then imposed a moratorium so that zoning could be brought into harmony with the Aspen Area Community Plan.

Aspen faces difficult and vitally important challenges. We need a City Council that will make decisions rationally and not emotionally. Solutions and consequences must be scrutinized from all perspectives.

For example, workforce housing is a huge community asset. As working residents retire, we are losing ground on our stated goal of housing a substantial portion of the workforce within the urban growth boundary. We must optimize our assets to provide housing for the maximum number of employees. Aging buildings must be maintained.

Decisions on the proposed Gorsuch Haus hotel project and the western portal of Aspen Mountain will determine the future of our ski town. Two of my opponents will have to recuse themselves from these decisions if elected. Art Daily’s law firm represents Aspen Skiing Co. Skippy Mesirow voted against Gorsuch Haus when he was on the Planning and Zoning Commission. The future of Aspen is too important to not have full participation of council in these decisions.

The current council has pro-development voting records, such as Base2. They appointed a citizens committee to vet and recommend nonprofit finalists to move into the old Aspen Art Museum. They then added their own for-profit finalist into the mix and chose it over their own committee’s recommendation. They later retracted, dashing hopes and dreams.

If we have learned anything from recent elections, it must be that government has a duty to be responsive to all. The culture of listening to and valuing only like-minded people must end. The challenges we face demand the mental horsepower of all mind-sets. I seek out those who think differently. I invite and welcome dialogue from all ages and orientations. I listen.

I want to represent you.

Ward Hauenstein


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