The May 7 election will be a historic one in Aspen. Never before in city history have all four council members run for mayor at the same time, according to City Clerk Kathryn Koch.
The only caveat is that the council has been comprised of four council members and one mayor just since the late 1970s. Before that, there were six council members and a mayor.
So should this mean that all council meetings between now and the election are de facto debates?
The candidates acknowledged that there could be some residual effects, but they mostly downplayed the election’s influence, saying they would keep politics out of their council-table conduct.
“I actually think the five of us are getting along pretty well up there,” Councilman and mayoral candidate Adam Frisch said. “There’s a lot of mutual respect. We’ve all given up lots of ski time, family time, wage-earning time and devoted it to the community. There’s something to respect there.”
It’s been assumed that all four council members would be running for mayor for about two months, Frisch noted. Things have gone fairly well, but things might get more “frisky” down the road, Frisch said. However, he knows that “the public doesn’t want to see the blatant polarization of the meetings,” he said.
Councilman and mayoral candidate Derek Johnson said there have been some subtle effects to date.
“People have been sitting up a little straighter,” he said, and council members’ messaging has been a little better defined.
Councilman and mayoral candidate Steve Skadron said there is the potential for an “odd dynamic,” but that he personally has no desire to change his outlook or behaviors now that he is running against his three council colleagues.
Skadron said he can “quite confidently” say he has never adjusted a position to gain political favor, or otherwise disregard how he really feels about an issue.
“I would hope the other council members conduct themselves in the same way,” he said.
Mayor Mick Ireland, who is term limited as mayor and thus is not running for the post, said he doesn’t expect the race between the other four on the board to have “a great deal of effect.” The agendas between now and May look fairly light, with few flash-point land use or policy votes foreseen, he said.
“There might be some sniping here and there,” he said.
Ireland, however, may run for City Council. He has not decided yet, and whether he jumps in depends on his assessment of the rest of the field, once it more fully emerges, he said. Ireland has given himself until about April 1 to announce his intentions one way or the other, he said. At that time, he added, he may endorse a mayoral candidate.
Two Aspenites have announced their candidacy for one of two council seats open — former councilman Dwayne Romero and local attorney Art Daily.