First-time candidate Ward Hauenstein has bested competitor Torre by 29 votes to become Aspen’s newest councilmember. Aspen Public Radio’s Alycin Bektesh was on hand at the city clerk’s office last night as the results were announced and brings us this report.
There were 600 fewer people who voted in the runoff contest than in May’s general election. Hauenstein and some supporters were in the room as City Clerk Linda Manning announced the final tally.
Hauenstein said the close vote doesn't signal a divided public because the two candidates were ideologically similar.
“I wouldn't put so much energy into it if I didn't think I would do a better job, be better prepared, study the issue more, but there are 899 people that voted for Torre and they are my friends, so I don't think there are any bridges that need to be built. I don't think we need to mend any fences,” Hauenstein said.
Torre was not present for the announcement at Aspen City Hall. The candidate – who has previously sat on council – earned 90 more votes than Hauenstein in the general election but did not have enough votes to secure a seat outright.
Hauenstein will get sworn in on Monday. He said he is already at work on his top priority: freeing up employee-housing by offering incentives to retirees.
“They have every right to be and keep their places, but if there is some way we can incentivise to free up bedrooms, every bedroom we can free up is one we don’t have to build,” he said.
Yesterday’s runoff election saw a 28 percent voter turnout, compared to a 37 percent participation rate earlier this spring.