The Aspen City Council is deadlocked in its decision on who should fill its remaining open seat. After whittling the choices down to four, city council members found themselves at odds at last night’s (Tues, 7-2-2013) special meeting. Aspen Public Radio’s Rebecca Kruth reports.
It could all come down to the roll of a die.
That is, if the deadlocked city council fails to reach a majority vote at another special meeting scheduled for later this morning.
“One of Winston Churchill’s best quotes was ‘America always does the right thing after exhausting all of the other options,’” Councilman Adam Frisch said. “I have confidence this council will make the right decision after this even longer and exhausting process.”
After narrowing the field of applicants down to four at Monday night’s work session, Frisch and fellow sitting council members Art Daily, Ann Mullins and Mayor Steve Skadron met again last night to make a final decision for who will fill the vacancy created by Skadron’s election as mayor.
That’s not what happened.
During the two and a half hour meeting, would-be council members Dwayne Romero, Howie Mallory, Wendle Whiting and Scott Writer sat side by side before the council. Council members grilled the applicants about what they see as Aspen’s most pressing issues.
Mayor Skadron asked the candidates to envision the look and feel of the city should they serve a term on council. Retired banker Howie Mallory said he hopes to forge a deeper connection with the citizens of Aspen.
“I think the council would really be able to claim success if, after the next 24 months, there’s an increased trust and confidence in the community, the council and its decision making, along with the involvement of staff at the same time,” Mallory said. “The community can say ‘Yes, the council has made decisions that are addressing the needs of the community. They’ve been tough decisions, but they’ve been fair decisions.’”
In their closing statements, the candidates each had a chance to tell the council one more time why they think they would be the best man for the job.
Former councilman Dwayne Romero referred to his previous experience.
“I have the passion to serve. It’s in my DNA. I have the track record to serve. I have a basis of support, and I’m going to just ask directly, I hope I get your selection this evening,” Romero said. “To serve on your team, I’d be honored, as would these others. I look forward to the opportunity.”
After hearing closing statements from all four candidates, the council took its first vote, which ended in a two-to-two tie between Mallory and Romero. A second and third vote both came out the same.
Councilmen Daily and Frisch each expressed support for Romero. Daily said Romero is the type of candidate who could “take charge when necessary.”
On the other side, Mayor Skadron and Councilwoman Mullins each made a case for Mallory. The mayor said he values Mallory’s critical thinking skills and desire to maintain Aspen’s small town character.
When a fourth vote yielded yet another tie, the mayor laid out the somewhat novel rules for a tie-breaker. The decision will made by rolling a die to determine who will fill the vacancy.
The mayor was in favor of proceeding to a conclusion last night. However, in the end, the council decided to sleep on it and vote one more time later this morning.
If this morning’s results are the same, the winner will literally be decided by a crapshoot. The seat will go to the candidate who rolls the highest number.
Officially, city council has until next Wednesday to make a decision.The new member must be sworn in by July 10th. Mayor Skadron says he doesn’t want to put it off.
“It’s a serious matter, but I want it concluded. I don’t want to drag the community through another lengthy process. I want it done,” Mayor Skadron said. “We have an election commission who has a process in place, and I’m willing to abide by that.”
The fifth council seat went up for grabs after its former occupant, Skadron, was elected mayor. The vacant seat has a little over two years left in its term.