With two incumbents removed from Aspen City Council, there is certain to be some kind of change coming to the basement of City Hall.
But just what that change will be with the addition of Derek Johnson, 41, and Torre, 39, is difficult to tell and depends on who one talks to.
“You added one person who supported Lift 1A [Johnson] and one person who did not [Torre],” said Mayor Mick Ireland, who won re-election with 43 percent of the pre-instant runoff vote. “I think they are both affordable housing advocates. If anything, council will be stronger on the environment. ... I don’t know if there is a real change from the current council.”
Marilyn Marks, who collected 34 percent of the vote in a losing bid for mayor, said she believes the tone of the new council will be more welcoming and inclusive, with “more encouragement for public discourse.”
Torre, a tennis coach, and Johnson, an Aspen Skiing Co. retail manager and high school football coach, are “two very strong voices for the community who will impact the tone of council,” she said. She also predicted that the two new council members will usher in more of a fiscally conservative focus on city budgeting.
Councilman Dwayne Romero said he is encouraged by his new colleagues.
“I think it creates a more moderate and balanced council,” he said. “There’s this notion that tough times require tough decisions, but they also require strong problem-solving skills. I sense that Derek and Torre posses a great deal of that.”
Councilman Steve Skadron said he is looking forward to getting to know his new councilmates, and their positions on specific issues, better.
He said that there is a learning curve that any new council member must adjust to when they first get on the board. This will particularly apply to Johnson, because Torre has already served four years on council from 2003 through 2007, Skadron said.
“Once on council, you soon realize the reality is different than the perception,” he said.
Skadron added some kind parting words for Jack Johnson, who placed in the top four out of nine candidates but was eliminated in the instant runoff vote tabulation.
“I always felt that Jack, although ideological in his approach to things, was committed to a result that worked out best for the community,” he said. “It wasn’t about Jack; it was about making Aspen a better place.”
Jack Johnson agreed with Ireland that he didn’t see the balance of council changing all that much with the new members.
“I don’t see any call from the voters to do anything differently, just less aggressively,” he said.
Johnson said the community voted in two “extremely nice guys,” which may have been a rebuff to his take-me-or-leave-me style of politicking.
“I ran a very clear campaign in what I wanted, and the voters rejected that,” he said.