Editor’s note: The Aspen Daily News has posed questions to the 10 candidates running for an Aspen City Council seat in the May 7 election. The Daily News will run the responses of two candidates each day this week, through Friday. Today, the responses from council candidates Dwayne Romero and Jonny Carlson. And in his responses printed on Monday, Aspen City Council candidate Art Daily missed the question if has he been arrested or what his worst infraction has been. Here is his answer: “I’ve never been arrested, although I’ve had speeding tickets along the way.”
Biggest accomplishment in life (other than your family, if you have one): Making structural changes in my life that have enabled me to be a better husband, father, brother and friend. I’ve been able to rebalance my priorities and perspectives in order to create a more healthy and positive lifestyle.
Have you ever been arrested? If so, for what? If not, what is the worst infraction you’ve made in life? Yes, two DWAIs. See above.
What kind of car do you drive? I lease a Land Rover Evoque for business. However, I have retro fun with my ’79 IH Scout Traveler (mint green, lavender shag carpet — yes!) and often give rides to Mick Ireland and Steve Skadron when they have a flat tire on the bike.
Pick one: Favorite book, movie or quote: Quote: The Man in the Arena (Theodore Roosevelt, 1910). “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
1. If elected, what is the first initiative you will bring to City Hall and to your fellow council members?
A focus on how council can perform better as a leadership body. We need to gain a greater level of public trust in city government by improving the collective performance of council. We can move away from behaving as a poorly organized and disjointed group of individuals into becoming a more cohesive and coordinated team of decision makers and policy setters. We can improve:
• How council sets direction through the establishment of clear policies and priorities.
• How council gives and gets feedback from the general public.
• How council shapes and optimizes the performance of government (by unleashing the potential of a professional and well-equipped staff, by listening to and taking appropriate direction from a cadre of engaged, citizen-led commissions, and by defining and requiring more measurables in our budgets and plans).
2. Two part question: What has the municipal government failed to do in representing the residents of Aspen in the past year? What has City Hall excelled at in the past year?
a. We still suffer from inconsistent leadership performances from council, and the last year is no exception. Oftentimes council fails to inspire, to inform, and to steadfastly role model the community values and ideals that we have long since agreed to in our vision statements. This hurts trust between the community and city government.
b. However, community development receives kudos for the recent initiatives in becoming more “business friendly,” and more approachable for start-up and existing businesses in town. By revamping the processes and procedures that they use to serve, they will improve response times and customer satisfaction ratings. This will be very helpful and well received by the business community. I would advocate this approach across all city departments/agencies.
3. With many of the roughly 2,800 units in the affordable housing inventory structurally aging, and with a large portion of residents heading toward retirement, should the city continue to build more housing for the next generation of the workforce? At what price?
We need to re-examine how and where the existing program is not meeting our goals. Two dynamics are in play — first, we have an aging demographic (empty nesters, pre-retirees) that are “stuck” in their current residences. Their priorities and housing needs have changed, yet the current program does not possess adequate flexibility to allow them to trade or buy down. This blocks the normal transition of housing better suited for a younger demographic.
The program is not fully aligned with the housing needs of the younger age groups. The 20- to 40-age group views housing with a different lens, one that places a premium on flexibility of choice, function and occupancy requirements.
We need to focus on ways to tailor and tweak the program to fit these emerging and important priorities, knowing that enhanced flexibility will help us achieve our community housing goals.
4. Given that the downtown commercial core is going in the direction of large buildings housing retail stores that create a Gucci and Prada lover’s paradise and knocking out locally serving businesses, do you have any ideas on what to do about it as an Aspen elected official?
First, work to rebuild trust. As I’ve said before, the current rush of development was mostly government induced. I didn’t agree with the process council used to lower height limits. The ill-advised approach of using the emergency ordinance ended up inducing the exact opposite result we all imagined: a rush of nearly a dozen land use applications by panicked and alarmed property owners.
Second, recognizing that some of the change is now underway, we should monitor progress, examine how things evolve, and look for ways to tweak policy in order to induce positive outcomes. Example: We may want to work directly with landowners of strategic sites that could provide a stable and long-term base for locally serving businesses. We can craft incentives and regulatory relief for participation in this approach. The stick is already in play; I’d like to try a carrot or two to get a better result.