Letter: Beware of conflicts in Basalt
I appreciate the environmental work of Auden Schendler, who is a candidate for one of the three vacant council seats. He is a bright guy who genuinely has a passion for Basalt. He runs on being an idea person. Good ideas have abounded from the public in Basalt for the past four years and have been largely ignored by the Town Council. The key is having unbiased representation to be able to champion citizen rights rather than those ideas from a biased perspective. On the negative, being an employee of Aspen Skiing Co., at a time when it is seemingly poised to become a huge presence in Basalt, concerns me. Skico is a fine company with a web of activities in Snowmass and Aspen. It recently purchased one of the largest office buildings in Basalt for its administrative offices. It also has been contemplating the redevelopment of the KOA campground in Basalt. Its involvement in upper-valley development and real estate makes it one of the biggest players in the valley, just like Lowe Enterprises is. Basalt needs council and mayoral representation that will negotiate 100 percent for Basalt residents, for appropriate maximum levels of development mitigation, rather than being diminished by the invisible influence that related company interests tend to exert. Just like I will not be voting for the mayoral candidate who is an executive of one of the largest earthmoving companies in the valley, I cannot cast my ballot for Auden due to conflicts of interest that common sense says will be present and at work to influence town policy. No matter how nice and otherwise qualified for a position a candidate might be, conflicts of interest need to be acknowledged rather than ignored like they have been in Basalt the past four years. We have seen how that has worked, with the town hiring the same architectural firm to draw plans for the city after it was hired by Lowe Enterprises to represent it. Not well. That is largely why we have been mired in confusion, dissonance and disagreement this past year. I applaud Auden for his environmental work and feel like he should be able to do his best work for Basalt by working for Skico to convince the town to buy into programs rather than delegating from the top via owning a council vote.
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