Letter: Real leadership in Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Real leadership in Basalt

Dear friends and neighbors,

Folks in our valley travel a lot, often to incredible, exotic locations, yet upon return always exclaim, “There is no place like home.” It is something that I remember when election season rolls around.

Keeping our communities thriving with their roots and character intact amid the pressure for growth and change — sometimes overdue and sometimes over the top — the need for balancing and right-sizing development in the face of a constant push for bigger and bigger projects is the challenge each town’s elected boards must face.

I support Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt’s re-election because she has demonstrated the caution, wisdom and foresight to know when to go big and when small things matter. I worked with Jacque when she served on the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority board on the campaign to bring bus-rapid-transit to our valley. Jacque dedicated hundreds of hours over many months to make sure this vital improvement to valley mobility succeeded and to bring $24 million of federal funding to our valley — that was Jacque going big.

Then I’ve see Jacque work in many quiet and impactful yet small ways that say so much, helping out at the annual river cleanup days, being a founding board member of English in Action and being available to talk informally with residents and help resolve their concerns via “Coffee With the Mayor” outreach.

Now Basalt is wrestling with its future and the challenges that the Willits marketplace has brought to the historic downtown, changes for the business community that began when Highway 82 was rerouted out of the town core years ago.

My experience tells me that authenticity and uniqueness, charm and character make for successful tourists attractions and repeat visitation. My travels around the state tell me how unique, special and rare it is for a community to have significant river frontage and river activities available for public access and public parks. And my history tells me that great projects, important open space land acquisitions and community endeavors take commitment, patience and time.

Given the great import, the make-it-or-break-it, “live with it forever” stakes surrounding the river-park area and taking the time to get this incredible opportunity right and to find the right balance — that is real leadership in my eyes.

Over the years, I’ve worked with both mayoral candidates, respect them for their work and commitment, think they are both good people and know they both care deeply for the Basalt community.

I support Jacque because I have followed her tenacious efforts to get the Highway 82 Basalt underpass funded, for her extensive experience with state legislative matters that affect all of us and for her dedication to the best Basalt now and in the future.

I support Jacque’s re-election because she stands up for her beliefs, despite naysayers and critics, to support a vision for the long-term future of the town. There are unparalleled opportunities for Basalt’s downtown redevelopment that a fully realized river park would bring. I hope the community will seize this chance and, for so many other great reasons, re-elect Jacque Whitsitt when returning their mail-in ballots!

Thanks for your time and consideration.

Rachel E. Richards


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