Lum: Myrin, Ireland, Torre and ‘yes’
As the column title implies, I am supporting Bert Myrin and Mick Ireland for City Council and Torre for mayor and am voting “yes” on Referendum 1 to, as the motto rather clumsily says, “Keep Aspen, Aspen.”
For me, this was a very easy decision, except for the mayor’s seat. I like Steve Skadron a lot — he’s smart and he’s on the right side of things, but I think that Torre is even more on the right side of things and, in this election, the more the better.
I supported Skadron in the last election, but I think it’s time for Torre’s fifth attempt to be the charm. My concern at my choice of Skadron two years ago was that he would be leaving an empty council seat, putting the balance of the council at peril.
This turned out to be true. Skadron defends his decision to back Dwayne Romero for his council seat rather than throw the dice, but to many of us it was like Ford pardoning Nixon, and it set the stage for a council that if not actively pro-growth, was definitely not stern about enforcing the rules.
Then weird, unsettling things began to happen. A lodging ordinance was put forward by staff and approved by the council. I don’t know if the council didn’t read it or was spurred by the public encouragement to keep the meetings short or what, but — predictably — all hell ensued and they had to back up and rescind it before blood was spilled.
Council allowed some bending of the rules for several lodging projects, including Mark Hunt’s proposal for a hotel on the Johnny McGuire’s location, which got away with housing fewer than three employees and cutting parking to a handful of spaces across town. That and other allowed variances triggered Referendum 1, “Keep Aspen, Aspen.”
The current City Council is united against Referendum 1, as is the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (which has no business spending public money on its position), as are the developers and the ski company. I’m all for it. No variances, period, or your project will go to a public vote. The naysayers say we’ll be living in the voting booth; I say we’ll never see a ballot because no one will ask for a variance if they understand we are serious.
The citizenry was then asked for its opinions on two colossal options for a new or revamped City Hall. We cannot vote for this in the end, so how did council let this get whittled down to two unacceptable choices? If it is the tail (staff) wagging the dog (council), amputations are in order. Will the current council wield the scalpel? I wish so, but I think not.
Coming before the new council will be more Hunt buildings and — close to my heart — the desecration of the ratty, beloved Aspen Times building. I haven’t seen the final plans, but there were rumors that the Jerome (which now owns it) was looking for three or four stories.
Will the historic Times false front go on top or act as a doorway? This is all very scary stuff, and I want our toughest guns and pit bulls on the front lines. The lead-soaked ground the Times stands on may be its ultimate salvation.
Ann Mullins and Skadron often were outvoted by the other three, so it wasn’t that Skadron wasn’t trying, but in choosing a council, the most important thing is where the majority lies.
With three seats open, and with Mullins and Art Daily as incumbents, consider these two hypothetical councils:
• Skadron, Adam Frisch, Keith Goode, Daily and Mullins.
• Torre, Ireland, Myrin, Mullins and Daily.
I’ve had my issues with Ireland and Myrin, too, but no matter how I cut it, out of the field of candidates, I think that Torre, Ireland, Myrin, Mullins and Daily would make the strongest possible council.
As always, huge thanks to GrassRoots and Brent Gardner-Smith for the terrific election coverage.
Su Lum is a longtime local who figured that since the ballots are in the mail, she’d better get cracking, but she doesn’t promise to say no more. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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