Rogers: Voting matters most; why you should consider Guth, Mesirow, Torre |

Rogers: Voting matters most; why you should consider Guth, Mesirow, Torre

Aspen Times editor Don Rogers
Courtesy photo

There is plenty of discussion these days about endorsements among newspapers. Broadcast long abandoned the practice. And online news media never started.

But endorsing candidates goes back at least 150 years for the papers. While plenty has changed, constant whitewater since I began, there remains plenty of hidebound tradition and an argument to endorse because it’s always been done.

There are better cases for endorsements than that, of course. Newspapers traditionally weigh in on the issues of the day through house editorials. They have a unique vantage on governance, with insights worth sharing. If weighing in on issues, why not on who seems to the paper, anyway, best suited to grapple with them?

But aren’t institutional editorials, written by holy keepers of the Royal We, just a bit outdated now? The online metrics suggest so. These anonymous pieces drone, go largely unread, change little.

Besides, the Aspen papers haven’t produced regular editorials in at least a generation, only the occasional missive of what the Royal We thinks.

A tide is turning across the country as more newspapers shift away from endorsements in the name of not telling their communities how to vote, a huge misnomer but one with cache in polarized, FB’ed America.

I don’t like disappointing candidates when we don’t choose them, but I appreciate the attention we’re compelled to give our choices, the interviews, the arguments over who is the best choice now, the sense of doing right with viewpoints of candidacies different from chambers, boards of realtors, unions and prominent and not so prominent citizens in their endorsements.

We just need to do it right. Right to me means at last putting together that community board of advisers from across the range of interests and views here. Then getting into a groove. Then there’s less of an argument against weighing in with what we see in candidates.


Meantime, I’m happy to tell you what I see, just speaking for myself:

Tracy Sutton doesn’t really want to be mayor. OK, she’d do it. She’d probably be good at it if she bore down on all the issues besides what got her running in the first place. But she doesn’t really have the time, what with running her own busy real estate company. Outside of that, I don’t see much knowledge or interest in everything else that goes into running a city.

She signed up because the sitting mayor needed a challenger, which is only true. But she didn’t come from some deep passion to be a local politician. That’s not Tracy Sutton, a formidable businessperson with deep commitment to her business and industry.

Torre is a mayor, even a quintessential one. Generally affable, available, articulate, interested in the city and its future. This doesn’t look like a hard choice here by interest and merit. But there’s that anger over the STR tax, the moratoriums, the holes in the downtown ground where stores and restaurants should be, and a sense of short shrift to business interests, and so that will play through, for sure.

Everyone running for the City Council has convinced me they would do the work, including the homework, which is rigorous and often duller than dull if you look at the background briefings these folks get every week.

The incumbent, Skippy Mesirow, appeals to me for thinking bigger, more creatively than most. That’s more Aspen than the narrower minded “pragmatism” guiding other ski towns, which are not better for it. Having four other members of the City Council protects against acting on whim, say, while allowing in some spark from new ideas.

I expect Sam Rose to slide in there just as he’s campaigning — vanilla, nice guy, listens, second guesses in popular ways, though who knows what he’d really do in office? Nothing daring, vulnerable perhaps to whoever he heard last before voting. He’s the mirror of Sutton, I think — he really, really wants to be on council, and he’s run a brilliant campaign to that end. I’m just not sure what he stands for beyond than that, though I expect we shall see.

I’m a fan of Bill Guth by personality alone. Plainspoken, verging on grumpy, you know what he thinks, like that or not. Yes, he got popped by the city for bending rules distinguishing between a single-family home and a duplex. I like that he took responsibility. That’s the root of the story I looked for. He’s also unabashedly business first in his approach, which would add richness to the council discussions.  

That’s my take. But you have the vote. Mainly, I hope you don’t throw it away by failing to show up for your community, and that you put real thought into what will matter more than any U.S. president to daily life in Aspen.

The candidates are doing their part. It’s the citizens, though, who truly make or break a community.

Aspen Times Editor Don Rogers can be reached at