Councilman Adam Frisch officially joined the field running for Aspen’s mayoral post on Sunday, saying that City Hall policies often lack common sense, which he aims to restore.
“[Frisch] contends that the Aspen community excels at developing compelling and thoughtful long-term goals, but that the tools used to execute those goals can be problematic,” according to a statement he drafted over the weekend.
“We spend a lot of time contemplating lofty principles and objectives to better our community for the long term but not enough time thinking about unintended consequences and practical day-to-day impacts on people,” Frisch wrote.
Frisch, 45, is a first-term council member, who won election in 2011, meaning he is half-way through a four-year term and will remain on the board win or lose. He came up just short in a 2009 council run.
Councilman Steve Skadron is the only other announced mayoral candidate, although council members Derek Johnson and Torre are also contemplating a run.
Frisch pointed to recent cases in explaining his “common sense” platform. In one case, a local man who operates an art gallery in a building hallway was told that under established rules he would have to pay a six-figure fee to make his space officially approved for a business; however, council is considering a policy brought forward by Mayor Mick Ireland that would grant fee exemptions to businesses like his that operate in common areas. Frisch also took issue with a proposal to raise affordable housing fees applied to development projects; that policy debate has been tabled until after the May 7 election.
Frisch said city bureaucracy and red tape can hinder small businesses and locals, and that he would support loosening some of the rules. He at least would like to see a “check in,” where the city takes stock of all the rules and regulations it has built up, and asks, “Do we still want to have everything we are asking for?” Frisch said in an interview on Sunday.
Frisch was not in support of council’s move last year to take allowed downtown building heights from 42 to 28 feet and ban free-market condos. He said town should be made up of two- and three-story buildings, and some penthouse apartments are appropriate.
“I don’t buy the argument that if you are not in support of the most restrictive policy, then you want some 20-story tower,” Frisch said. “You need a healthy balance.”
He also said there needs to be more lodging and updated vacation-rental condos in town.
Frisch often finds himself in the minority on council votes related to development and growth issues. Of his council colleagues Skadron, Ireland and Torre, he said, “They’ve been in the absolute majority for so long, but they still run into buyer’s remorse trying to figure out what they want.”
With Ireland, who has been mayor for six years, vacating the post because of term limits, the race for the top political job in the city looks to be as competitive as ever. If no mayoral candidate gets an outright majority in the May 7 vote, the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff election held a month later.
Frisch moved to Aspen in 2003 with his wife Katy. He has a 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. Prior to moving to Aspen, he lived in Vail for two years, and before that he spent a decade in New York City. He started off there as a waiter but worked his way into finance, where he was a currency trader and worked for a “socially responsible” investment fund, according to his statement. Frisch now is working on starting up a brand of “hospitality-focused” RV parks. Frisch grew up in Minnesota, and attended college at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics.