Time to settle Aspen’s worker-housing debate

The Red Ant’s latest clarion call to “throw the bums out” (commentary, Aspen Times, July 19) is, it seems, directed to a voting block that doesn’t exist. Since the ‘60s, there haven’t been enough free-market-housed locals who actually vote here for conservatives to mount a serious challenge to the established order.

But now, with the influx of well-heeled COVID-19 refugees in the upper Roaring Fork, perhaps the Ant and her fellow travelers could mount an effective campaign to get one of their own seated at the high table of local government. There must be some pistol-packin’ upper valley champion of the right who is up to the challenge of throwing their hat into the ring for the March 2023 election. It would be an entertaining piece of local political theater, and an opportunity for the community to shore up the much-neglected first leg of the “mind-body-spirit” stool of which Aspen is so proud. A vigorous public debate over whether and to what extent subsidized housing — not just for the workforce but for all who can’t afford free market in this little destination resort economy — is a public good is long overdue.

It would be of great moment, at least in our little bailiwick, for the community to judge the merits of the Ant’s argument that Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority hasn’t been true to the vision espoused on its website of “support(ing) affordable workforce housing for a sustainable community and a prosperous economy” and that our current local leaders are “bums” who need to be thrown out. And afterwards, those critical of the “socialist” principles espoused by our local leaders could either declare victory and the dawn of a new free-market paradise, or admit defeat, and as Nino Scalia once famously said, just “get over it.”

Barry Vaughan

El Jebel