Elected officials attempt to drill down their prospective positions
Residents interested in being appointed to Aspen City Council next month will face questions about height limits, their thoughts on the Castle Creek hydro plant and why they didn’t run in recent municipal elections.
Those, among the 10 questions council members drafted to include in the application process, are intended to get candidates’ views on some of the most critical current issues facing the city, said Mayor Steve Skadron.
“What I wanted was more than the standard questions on an application to sit on boards and commissions,” Skadron said.
Application materials, available on the city clerk’s web page at www.aspenpitkin.com/departments/clerk , are due by Monday, June 17 at 4 p.m. in the clerk’s office or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org . The city also is asking the community to weigh in on what the council should consider in making the appointment through the “Open City Hall” forum on the aspenpitkin.com website.
With the election of Skadron, a one-and-a-half-term councilman, to the mayor’s chair in last week’s runoff vote, a two-year vacancy has been created on City Council. Three members of the current four-person board will have to agree on an appointee to serve out the remainder of Skadron’s council term, through June 2015.
Skadron asked the current council — with new members Art Daily, Ann Mullins and existing member Adam Frisch — to come up with questions that appointee applicants will answer as part of their written application. Those questions, as well as a general application form and information about the position and required qualifications, were posted to the city clerk’s web page on Tuesday.
The questions are as follows:
1) Why do you want to serve as a member of City Council?
2) Which of your skills will your greatest strength on council [SIC]? What gaps might you fill and how do your skills compliment the skills of the present council composition?
3) Please answer a or b:
(a) Why did you not run in one of the recent elections for City Council?
(b) What did you think your recent candidacy said about your community support and/or ability to represent the community?
4) Please tell us about your community service in which you have been involved. Please include nonprofit boards/service, and/or community boards (planning and zoning, Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority).
5) What action has council taken recently that you think was beneficial to the city and what action did you not agree with?
6) What issues do you consider most pertinent to the city and why, and are these issues you would focus on immediately if appointed to council?
7) What is your position on the city’s pursuit of a 100 percent clean energy portfolio, and should hydro on Castle Creek be included?
8) Regarding Aspen’s built environment:
(a) Some feel speculative development downtown compromises our core values and our quality of life. Do you? Why or why not?
(b) What is your opinion on the recent ordinance limiting building heights to 28 feet?
9) Some affordable housing developments need capital improvements but their HOAs are inadequately funded. What should be the city’s role in addressing HOA funding deficiencies?
10) Bonus: What is it about eight-hour meetings, 400-page packets and media scrutiny that you find desirable?
Regarding question No. 2, Skadron said he recognized that people may have no idea what skill-set gaps the current council might be lacking, since the new board was only sworn in on Monday.
“Sometimes how a question is answered is more informative than the answer itself,” Skadron said.
No one had turned in any application materials as of midday Tuesday. Former Councilman Dwayne Romero, who came in third in the May council election, has said previously he would consider applying for the vacancy if Skadron won.
Applicants must have lived in the city of Aspen for at least one year.
There have been two council appointment processes in recent Aspen history. In September 2008, Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss passed away, leaving about eight months on his term. Nineteen applied for the vacancy, and council members appointed Jackie Kasabach to the board.
In January 2011, Romero stepped down with about four months left on his term to take a job overseeing statewide economic development in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration. Nine applied for the vacancy, and Ruth Kruger was selected.
Skadron has called for a transparent appointment process, and has suggested election season-style forums for the appointment applicants in the latter half of June. Council members will hold interviews with the applicants on July 1 or 2, or perhaps on both days, as part of an officially noticed council work session.
Skadron, who was vocally opposed to having too many forums in the election season, said the appointment process is different. Public scrutiny is perhaps a higher priority here, since the community doesn’t get to vote, he said. Hopefully, a rigorous process will deter non-serious candidates, he said.
On the Open City Hall web page, one person had posted a comment by Tuesday afternoon. That person, who listed their location as “outside Aspen,” suggested that the council appoint the candidate who got the third-most votes in the last election, so that the appointee is guaranteed to have some community support. The commenter said that picking someone who did not run in the last election “would smell of cronyism and allude to a hidden agenda.”