Blumenthal: Local election critical this year
I just returned to Santa Monica after having spent a couple of weeks in the village for some fall bike riding and Aspen Filmfest. Except for the first few days, which were awe-inspiring, bike riding was a bust due to rain and snow, but fortunately Filmfest once again delivered an eclectic array of entertaining and enlightening narrative and documentary films, most of which were thoroughly enjoyable.
While in town, I ran into some local folks who expressed full agreement with my recent commentary concerning Snowmass’ new town manager, Clint Kinney. I even received a note from the executive director of the Colorado Municipal League, headquartered in Denver, who has known Clint for a long time and agrees that he’s “a very good fit for the town.”
I also ran into more than a few people who agreed with my commentary concerning Julie Ann Woods, the town’s new community development director. Either through direct dealings or observation, they also agree that she’s not the best choice for this position and clearly not up to the high standards set by her recent predecessors who filled this position. That being said, I’ll stand down on this issue and allow our new town manager sufficient time to make his own evaluation and judgment of her skills.
At his first council meeting since taking on the job of town manager, Clint, not surprisingly, received a less-than-enthusiastic welcome from the three-member council majority of Mayor Bill Boineau and council members Markey Butler and Fred Kucker. I sense the members of the council majority are still galled at not getting their way on the town-manager decision and are bitter over having to accede to the reality that almost all but they saw it early on. I’m reminded of the song lyric parodying Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal: “Everybody knew with the small exception of me.”
Interestingly, a couple of members of the intransigent majority are now seeking favor from the electorate to remain elected representatives and in the process are touting their ability to listen to the comments of their constituents, to respect the various voices in the community and to work with one another in a collegial manner, evidence of which has not been on display during much of their tenure.
Because of the mess we’ve recently been through and what we’re facing in the next few years, particularly with the completion of Base Village and the entryway on the fast track of decision making, it’s critical that every member of the electorate make a well-informed decision as to who are the best candidates to represent the views of the entire community rather than their own self-interests and whether they can do so in a reasoned, nonemotional, respectful and collegial manner.
In order to help you in this selection process, a candidate forum hosted by Aspen Journalism will be held in Town Council chambers at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 16. Come prepared to listen carefully to the candidates’ answers to probing questions posed by local journalists and you the members of the community in order to make your own informed decisions as to who is best to represent and lead us during the next few years.
As a side note to what has been a very controversial and contested process in reviewing Related’s application to extend its Base Village vested development rights, allegations were leveled this week against members of the council majority concerning improper ex parte communications during the review process. If the allegations are true, those council members will have crossed an ethical, if not legal, boundaries prohibiting discussions and negotiations of substantive matters with the developer outside the public process.
Such transgressions could likely become the basis for one or more legal challenges to any Base Village development approvals granted to Related, thus further delaying or possibly jeopardizing entirely its completion. Just another reason to make sure you familiarize yourself with all the candidates you plan to vote for and decide whether you’re convinced they thoroughly understand and will play by the rules in place.
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