On May 8, 2007, Aspen will elect a new Mayor and 2 new city councilman. By the time you get back here, after mud season, we'll have a new power slate in office. Aspen Spin is not normally into the politics, because we're here for the POW, the PARTIES and the PEOPLE in that order. However, this round of elections seems to be for the veritable SOUL of ASPEN. The Developers vs the Preservationists---it's the trucks vs the bikes. Who will win it?
Last night was SQUIRM NIGHT, a local tradition, when all the candidates answer questions from the fourth estate and the public. It's shown live on GRASSROOTS TV and sponsored by the two daily papers. Aspen Spin covered the event---- in force. We hoped we'd get some insane nugget of usable material from Mayoral candidate Bonnie Behrend, but she didn't even show. We sat through the entire, hot box, made for TV, meeting--- anyway.
We learned that there are only 5,100 registered voters in The City of Aspen. Assuming a 50% voter turnout thats only 2,550 votes. The Aspen Chamber Resort Association conducted a survey that says 60% of Aspen's business owners can't even vote in town, and fewer than 25% of the employees are registered for the election. So it's a very small group of people who are dictating the rules for the millions of BIG SHOTS who show up here.
Aspen is a notoriously political environment. It's an old boys (and girls) network. Judging by the fraternity-like crowd watching the squirm-off in person---- that's not going to change. All the ex-Mayors and former Councilmen, and a few gadfly's had questions for the newbies. Aspen Spin quipped,"in Aspen there are only 5000 voters, but you get 100,000 opinions". The peanut gallery giggled.
The three biggest issues in the election (in A-Spin's order of importance):
1 Growth and Construction Management (including truck traffic). It's Crazy!!!
2 Employee Housing (No where to live, brah???)
3 Entrance to Aspen (27 years of debate, nuff said).
Aspen Spin endorses the following candidates:
TORRE -- Originally, we thought he was just another pretty boy, tennis pro, PLUM TV host-- --- and he is. However he seems serious, and honest and energetic. He earned some respect for his 4 years on the City Council. He's friendly and willing to work hard, and seems to be a consensus builder. He's young, but that's OK. WE VOTE YES!!
MICK -- A career politician, he seems diligent, and he has Aspen's best interest at heart. He's admirably strong in his convictions, but he seems so set in his ways,------ that he's almost rigid in his beliefs. His interactions with people leave a little to be desired. Sorry, bro.
BONNIE. The former CNBC talking head cuts a wide trail through town. The scorched earth behind her could be fodder for a sit-com. We were disappointed she bailed.
CITY COUNCIL: (vote for 2)
HASSEN DAGHER: Could not attend, but he's from Michigan State, so he's gotta be cool, however politics are not in his future.
L.J. ERSPAMER: He represents the old guard. He has some decent ideas, but change is good.
ANDREW KOLE: We like his perseverance and he actually says some smart stuff (fewer cars in the core) but, it's all wrapped up with that fractious personality ----and he loses people. Stick to Grassroots, dude. Another loss for Kole.
TONI KRONBERG: Her heart is in the right place, and, ........she has been at every council meeting since '78. However, she couldn't finish her thoughts in a concise manner. She always gabbed well past the buzzer (a bad sign). She clearly can't make dreams come true, and in our opinion, she would not be effective on the council.
MICHAEL O' SULLIVAN: We realize it was a made for TV event, but Sully couldn't muster more than a whisper. His opinions could not be heard at all. So no matter how good his ideas may be they need more oooomph.
DWAYNE ROMERO: Very forceful. A West Point, and Harvard Business School grad. A decorated combat vet and an entrepreneur with a young family. He seems sincere, and honest and dedicated to public service. Even though he comes from the construction business, (a fox in the hen house?) he may be able to help find a solution to the growth and construction management issues in town. We vote for him.
STEVE SKADRON: He's had 4 years of experience on P & Z, we think that's good. He's liberal and claims to be creative. We think he's a voice of reason, and he wants the best for Aspen. We'll vote for him.
MICHAEL WAMPLER: He's to the point, which can be a positive, but if you've ever rented a bike from him, you probably want to cast your vote elsewhere.