Rogers: One change, for sure: More voted
Congratulations to the new mayor — same as the old mayor — and the new council members, now consigned to four years of the dullest reading imaginable each week. Sisyphus comes to mind.
Torre crushed challenger Tracy Sutton, taking the same 60% of the votes that the STR tax won last fall. Sounds more like get a clue’s the message here rather than a clarion call for some new direction.
But Skippy Mesirow lost his reelection bid in the three-way race for two openings on the City Council following Rachael/Rachel Richards’ end of a long public run in office ranging from mayor to councilwoman to county commissioner.
Bill Guth squeaked out 216 more votes than Mesirow, which is just as good as Torre’s dominance to take that second seat. Sam Rose was the big vote getter in the council race, landing there in the classic nice guy fashion — let voters pin their hopes on him, reading what they will into what they think he’ll actually do, neither Mesirow nor Guth, maybe. We’ll certainly see.
Everyone’s second choice rode that to 45.5% of the vote, followed by Guth at 29.3% and Mesirow at 25.2%. One more run for Richards would have been interesting, and instructive. I think in terms of direction, it might have clarified where the electorate stands — more plainly in line with Torre, I think.
Mesirow campaigned out of the box, coloring outside the lines, all the lines, making him maybe a little too wild of a choice for just a few too many voters to risk on another term. A more conventional campaign likely would have led to a shoo-in for the incumbent, looking at the power of the blank slate candidacy, which also allowed the builders’ choice to slip in ahead of what many perceived as the crazy train.
I suspect Mesirow’s ideas might not be so much crazy as a bit ahead of their time, and that the other council members would have benefited from taking up at least some in their deliberations to come.
The city will be fine, though. This at core is a rather thankless, dull council grind they’ve won their turn to join, not Congress or the presidency where loons take full flight. Traffic congestion, the Entrance to Aspen, housing challenges, the soul questions and all will continue on, eternal as always, resistant to expert advice or the incredible IQ of challengers until they must actually make decisions for the next crop of candidates to point out as errors in the vein of “what were they thinking?”
Remember Sisyphus. The fresh new becomes the tired old within four years, two for a mayor. Kurt Vonnegut’s signature line applies perfectly here.
But I’m being cynical. I’m actually glad and grateful for people who willingly yoke themselves, even prostrate themselves for the chance at toil you and I would find deeply, depressingly tiresome. If you doubt this, consider that potholes qualify as a major, major issue right now.
SPIKE IN INTEREST
But did you notice turnout rose significantly, all the way up to around 45% of eligible voters? By Aspen standards, this is pretty darn good. It can only mean interest in the city elections grew above the 40% or so constituting normal.
Why, another hop like that and Aspen might begin to reach the Truckee and Steamboat standard of a cool 50% average for turnout. That seems to be about as good as it gets in the ski towns, younger and more transient than regular America.
Of course, the ski towns also have a huge share of part-time residents who don’t qualify as voters, along with workers who commute in, Aspen’s from as far away as Parachute. Being able to vote in Aspen is a rare privilege, then, one cast aside by well over half the registered voters who could weigh in if they wished. The clear first choice of Aspen’s voters, and in most other ski towns, is not to bother.
Still, 45% is better than 40%. The leap is more impressive if you consider that the 5 percentage point gain equates to 12.5% more ballots cast in this election than the usual.
In terms of directions, new or otherwise, can less than half the people eligible to vote and then a preponderance of constituents who aren’t eligible provide a mandate?
Only Mayor Torre earned a majority of votes. If you are sorting tea leaves from the castings, this is the only clear sign of the electorate’s will.
However he got there in a time of widespread skepticism about builders and their interests, Bill Guth will bring a perspective and voice that should prove useful to the council.
I trust Rose to do his homework and be thoughtful. I prefer knowing more about what the city would get in his candidacy, but I expect he’ll be just fine as a council member.
In any case, bless them all for stepping up. In an era when few do, there’s your bottom line.
Aspen Times Editor Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mountain Mayhem: Spring flings
Casa Tua hosted a dinner last month in partnership with Wyld Blue, the chic boutique in the Elks Building downtown featuring a collection of housewares, childrens’ clothes and women’s fashion.