The candidates running for Aspen City Council and mayor were grilled Thursday night at the annual Squirm Night forum. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.
Affordable housing, development and the residency of one candidate came up during the two hour forum in council chambers. Editors from local newspapers grilled the seven people running for two open seats on council.
One question asked the candidates to grade the City Manager’s Office. Retired affordable housing director Tom McCabe and former mayor Mick Ireland:
Tom McCabe: “I don’t always agree with what they do. My personal experience was a pretty mixed bag. I’d give them - and this is the office, not any one individual - a “D.”
Mick Ireland: “I would say on technical issues, like creating a budget that’s clear and understandable. I’d say that’s an “A-minus.” On communicating with the public, I’d say that’s a “C-minus.”
Incumbent Adam Frisch fielded a question about a failed lodging incentive package. Curtis Wackerle of the Aspen Daily News asked why he supported it when he knew the community didn’t.
Adam Frisch: “It’s a hard balance between representing people and sticking with your core values. I think the lodging ordinance and what was in it spun out of control. I would rather have the lodging ordinance go down and have the four lodges we approved, again by 95 percent, than have some legislation pass, sit on a desk somewhere and not have any lodges.”
Lauren Glendenning of the Aspen Times asked blogger and former money manager Andy Israel about his residency. His car has Michigan plates.
Andy Israel: “The City Clerk asked me about that. If I’m elected, I’ll go the next day to get my car registered in Colorado.”
Lauren Glendenning: “Only if you’re elected?”
Israel: “Only if I’m elected.”
Glendenning: “So why haven’t you done it yet?”
Israel: “I still have alliances to my home state of Michigan. They need the revenue more than Colorado does.”
Candidates Marcia Goshorn, Keith Goode and Bert Myrin also fielded questions.
The second half of the evening was more heated as the two mayoral candidates sparred over several topics including public comment. Torre accused sitting mayor Steve Skadron of prohibiting comment at work sessions.
Torre: “That not only created a communication rift, but it nearly doubled the budget for public outreach programs, staff time and staff costs in order to get the dialogue going between the citizens and the council.”
Steve Skadron: “What had happened over the course of years is that work sessions had become quasi public meetings. It was interfering with the progress of the community’s business.”
The candidates tackled Referendum One on the spring ballot, the land use code and gave opinions on the recent forceful arrest of a teenager near Aspen High School.