Local politicos are gearing up for the May election, and their supporters and detractors are already manning the battle stations.
A handful of jackholes are upset with Aspen City Attorney Jim True for his opinion that term limits in the state constitution do not prevent Mayor Mick Ireland from running for City Council. They accuse True of finding support for the opinion Ireland wanted instead of providing sound legal advice. They say True is secretly working for Mick’s best interests instead of the city’s.
Of course it’s True’s job to read and interpret laws on behalf of the city, but they don’t care about that. Never mind that his opinion applies to all current and future mayors, not just Mick. They’re happy to libel a decent, honest man for their own political purposes. They’re entitled to their stupid opinions, but their petty jealousy and malicious intentions shine through for everyone to see.
Former City Councilman Dwayne Romero says he’s pondering another run. He’s the guy who quit council to take a big job in Denver with Gov. Hickenlooper, then resigned from that job four months later. And, as president of Related Colorado, he’s in charge of the huge hole known as Snowmass Base Village.
He’s also the guy who voted in favor of almost every development application that came before him as a member of City Council.
Romero expects us to believe that he left the job with Hickenlooper because he didn’t anticipate how much driving would be involved with a job based in Denver when his family lives in Aspen. I don’t buy it.
Romero’s 2011 resignation from council resulted in Ruth Kruger’s appointment to the body, which was widely seen as a huge disaster for a long list of reasons. When he resigned from his state government job four months after the appointment, he said the time away from his family, and all the required driving, was just too difficult and challenged his sanity.
So despite the fact that he walked out on the voters who elected him for a job that he then walked out on a few months later, he has the cajones to seek another term on council.
Which brings me to my biggest concern of this election season. All four sitting council members have either announced their candidacy for mayor or have hinted they would. Torre and Johnson are at the end of their terms and are forbidden to run for mayor and council simultaneously, so their seats will be filled by new candidates no matter what happens with the mayoral race.
The other two, Steve Skadron and Adam Frisch, are in the middle of their terms. If either is elected, another seat would open up on council, after the election. When that happens, the mayor and three elected council members appoint someone.
I call this the “Kruger Effect.” In this scenario, almost anything can happen. Council is currently split 3-2 on most important issues, with Ireland, Skadron and Torre leading the Save Aspen Party, and Johnson and Frisch leading the Development Rocks Party. Let’s say, hypothetically, Skadron wins the mayor’s office, and Torre’s and Johnson’s seats are won by candidates with similar ideologies to their own. In other words, the status quo remains but with a few new faces.
In that scenario, the 2-2 council would have to come up with a compromise candidate, which sounds like a reasonable solution. But last time that happened we got Kruger, and that can’t happen again here, when the person will be in the seat for two years.
A second scenario: If the Development Rocks Party is able to keep Johnson’s seat and pick up Torre’s, they would have majority no matter who wins the mayor, and could have a 4-1 advantage depending on the outcome of the mayor’s race. The damage would be significant and permanent.
If Johnson wins the mayor’s office, the scenarios only look worse. Skadron and Frisch would maintain their seats, and the Development Rocks Party only needs to pick up one of the two open seats to get a 3-2 majority. If Torre wins the mayor’s office, that scenario is reversed, and the Save Aspen Party only needs to pick up one seat to maintain control.
This is all great news for the Development Rocks Party, and bad news for Skadron, Torre and their supporters. Both enjoy a lot of crossover support from the majority of the community. Skadron won his seat for the second time two years ago in a crowded field without the need for a runoff, which is pretty impressive. Torre is equally popular.
I suspect the Kruger Effect will hurt Skadron to some degree, because many fear the unknown and potentially disastrous outcome. Asking voters to choose between Skadron and Torre for the city’s top post puts them in quite a quandary. Worse yet, it could split the vote, handing the mayor’s office to the Development Rocks Party on a silver platter.
Both men are well qualified for the job, but this election is shaping up to be quite a mess for Aspen’s traditional majority. The Development Rocks Party has already put forth formidable candidates. The grapevine says at least two others are soon to follow. So far, no new candidates have stepped up to carry the torch for the Save Aspen Party.
If he runs, history says Ireland will win one of the open seats. But even if he does, that’s just one piece of a complicated puzzle. Who else will step up and commit to four years of public service to protect the town from the greed of developers and land owners who would sell Aspen’s soul to the highest bidder? The clock is ticking.
Doug Allen thinks a server, concierge or retail worker would be a great candidate. Reach him at Doug.Allen75@yahoo.com  or follow him on Twitter @Doug__Allen (two underscores).