Letter: Dems gambled by not endorsing Bert
The balance of power in Aspen has shifted dramatically in the past few days, and Aspen, as well as its residents, will be all the better for it.
Voters had two great choices in this runoff, and either would have been a good choice. The newcomer with big ideas who’s never held public office versus the winning veteran of 10 different elections. A virtual David versus Goliath. Two very different choices who most agree would bring nearly identical positions on the important issues. Bert Myrin ultimately defeated the seemingly undefeatable Mick Ireland in what can only be called a total blowout, with more than 65 percent of the vote. The voters rejected conventional wisdom and elected the candidate who’s been shaking up City Hall from the outside, much to their delight. But a larger question looms.
Nearly every notable and influential person in Aspen politics endorsed Mick. The mayor and every council member, current and past leaders of the Pitco Dems, even both newspapers and nearly every local columnist endorsed Mick. Su Lum is the only notable columnist who had the cajones to buck the trend and endorse the new guy when nobody else would. Things got so bad that, according to local news reports, Myrin and his husband, Walt Madden, both unaffiliated themselves from the Pitco Dems, and Madden resigned as the group’s treasurer. Myrin cited problems with Dem chairwoman Blanca O’Leary as part of the reason, and one can only assume that their group’s total abandonment of Myrin in the final stretch was a primary factor in that decision.
So what happens to the Pitco Dems now? Bert has arguably become one of the most powerful politicians in Aspen overnight, hdespite the avalanche of endorsements for Mick. Instead of embracing the newcomer and giving him a fair shake, nearly every leading Dem in Aspen turned their back on the one candidate that 2 out of 3 voters believe in and stood behind. Dems were within arm’s reach of having Aspen’s newest political warrior on their side, but instead they shunned him just days before voters handed him the keys to the kingdom.
Local Dem leaders should be ashamed of themselves, not for endorsing and voting for the person they thought was the best candidate, but for being so out of touch with what the electorate wanted. Their strategy of endorse-Mick-at-all-costs was a gamble. Some could have endorsed Bert, or they could have resisted the temptation to endorse anyone. It was a grave miscalculation that will cost them dearly. In the few seconds it took to announce the final vote, Pitco Dems lost an immeasurable amount of power and influence, and it will take years for them to earn it back — if they ever do. Shame on the supposed political experts for their total failure to read the temperature of the electorate and devise a winning strategy for their party. That is their job after all, and they failed miserably at it.
Lastly, shame on both Aspen newspapers for not giving Bert a fair shake. Both papers, through their editorials and columnists, have been whining for years about wanting new blood in City Hall. This time they had the chance to endorse a new candidate who’s contributed more to Aspen politics than anyone currently sitting at the council table, and instead they took the safe route and endorsed the “unbeatable” Mick Ireland, who turned out to be beatable after all. Apparently Su Lum — and her giant cajones — stand alone. (Get well soon, Su!)
Congratulations to Bert on his big win. Remember, much is expected from those to whom much has been given. And we should all thank Mick for his years of service to the people of Aspen. If we all contributed even a fraction of what Mick has over the years, Aspen would be a better place.
Dade City, Florida, and Aspen