As election season starts to ramp up, a few more of the eight candidates vying for three Aspen City Council seats are beginning to make their voices heard.
The municipal election will take place March 2. Running for city council are local residents Kimbo Brown-Schirato, John Doyle, Casey Endsley, Ward Hauenstein, Mark Reece, Sam Rose, Erin Smiddy and Jimbo Stockton.
On the mayoral side, incumbent Torre will defend his seat against Lee Mulcahy, who in 2017 ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Steve Skadron after securing 378 votes.
Aspen City Councilman Ward Hauenstein, who was elected in 2017, will also seek a second term, despite having previously stated otherwise.
“I have often stated that I did not intend to run for a second term because I never wanted to vote based upon getting re-elected,” Hauenstein wrote in a January letter announcing his candidacy. “My dedication to continuing the work and my love of Aspen have caused me to change my mind about running for a second and final term on Aspen City Council.
He added: “There is still a lot of work to do. The two biggest tasks I want to see completed are the Lumberyard project and a return to a new normalcy post-COVID-19.”
The other seven candidates are newcomers to Aspen’s political scene, some of whom say they are running at least in part to fill perceived voids among the current or past elected officials.
“The important thing for me, for this election, is we need some small business and restaurant owner representation on city council. Especially after COVID-19,” Mark Reece, a local entrepreneur and city council candidate, said via phone Monday night.
Asked why he is running for city council, Reece said, “my daughter.” He continued: “[There are] a number of decisions the city’s made over the past decade that I just didn’t think added up, development-wise or business-wise.”
Another fresh face in the arena of Aspen politics is Casey Endsley. A small business owner himself, Endsley vows to act as an ally to this sector, as well as for those he’d employ.
“My intention is to be a voice for common sense and to advocate for small businesses – the owners and the employees of these establishments who love this valley as much as I do,” Endsley declared at his “socially distanced rally/meet and greet” at Wagner Park on Jan. 10.
Understanding first-hand the challenge of living in such an expensive resort community, Endsley said he would “stand up for the working class.”
Within the same topic of conversation, he and Reece both — albeit separately — pointed to mental health as another top priority.
“We should be looking for the kind of leadership that we need but do not have. The kind of leadership that puts the well-being of our community and the people ahead of themselves and their political ambitions ahead of their overreach of power,” Endsley said Jan. 10. “We have a city council that only talks to people that agree with them.”
In a letter to the Aspen Daily News published Jan. 8, Kimbo Brown-Schirato also committed to serve what she believes is an under-represented segment of the local population.
“If elected to council, I will represent a demographic that lacked direct representation for decades: a full-time working mother of a young child who lives in APCHA housing,” wrote Brown-Schirato, who works in finance and runs a small business with her husband. Within the same vein, topping Brown-Schirato’s priorities are better childcare solutions and affordable housing.
In an email Monday night, artist John Doyle said he is running for Aspen City Council “to preserve Aspen’s small town character, local businesses and quality of life while preparing for the challenges of climate change.”
Sam Rose, a lead case investigator and contact tracer with Pitkin County, shares on his Facebook campaign page: “I am running for city council because I love Aspen and I believe that local government is the most effective place to make positive change and impact our community.”
Aspen City Council candidates Erin Smiddy and Jimbo Stockton could not be reached immediately Monday night.
The community can get to know their local candidates during the annual Squirm Night set for Feb. 18. More details will be announced at a later date.
Aspen City Council candidates
Name: Kimbo Brown-Schirato
Occupation: Financial services and small-business owner
Name: John Doyle
Name: Casey Endsleya
Occupation: Small-business owner
Name: Ward Hauenstein
Occupation: IT consultant
Name: Mark Reece
Occupation: Restaurant owner and entrepreneur
Name: Sam Rose
Occupation: Pitkin County lead case investigator/contact tracer
Name: Erin Smiddy
Occupation: TBD; could not be reached immediately on deadline
Name: Jimbo Stockton
Occupation: Ski instructor
Occupation: Tennis professional
Name: Lee Mulcahy