A group seeking to move Aspen’s municipal election from early May to a non-off-season timeframe is seeking input on which month out of three potential alternatives is preferred, in hopes of getting a question before voters this fall.
Time is of the essence for the group, as a critical deadline to get a question on the Nov. 6 ballot — city issues can piggyback onto the county-run election — is July 12. That is the date by which the group would need to submit roughly 320 valid signatures from registered Aspen voters, which is the threshold to initiate a ballot question to amend the city charter.
Before the group can begin collecting signatures, it must first determine which of the three potential months it would like to propose to voters. Months of study looking at overall town occupancy as determined by wastewater flow records from the sanitation district, including how many people are in town in the six weeks leading up to an election and a month later, when a runoff would take place, resulted in three preferred options: early March, early July and early August.
Skippy Mesirow, a principal organizer of the effort, said early feedback has leaned toward August, but the group is looking for more input. Supporters of the move-the-election movement are out on the streets this week seeking responses to a two-question survey. Aspen voters are being asked if they think the election should be moved in the first place and if so, what their preference is between March, July or August.
When should the municipal election be moved to?
One group is seeking to move Aspen’s municipal election from early May to a non-off-season time. We want to know your thoughts on the matter.
“It doesn’t make sense to host elections when no one is here,” Mesirow said, noting that many younger residents with seasonal jobs, as well as older, retired voters, are routinely out of town in early May. “The only pushback that can be reasonably levied is ‘Did you pick the best date?’”
Each potential timeframe has its drawbacks. An early July election would compete with the Fourth of July holiday, when town is at its busiest. An August election could compete with summer vacations, as well as November ballot issues, while a March election would mean campaigns kick off during the holidays and the runoff would be held in early April, which is the beginning of the spring off-season.
Municipal elections are held on odd-numbered years.
Any of the three options have “significant upside” compared to May, Mesirow said.
In order to get its proposed ballot language finalized and get to the business of collecting petition signatures, Mesirow said the group aims to have settled on a date within two weeks.
The group is planning numerous events to conduct outreach. Supporters will be on hand with surveys at the opening tonight of Grotto, a new nightspot on Hopkins Avenue. Mesirow added that move movement supporters Art Daily, a former Aspen City Council member, and Pitkin County Sheriff Joe Disalvo, are also planning outreach events.
The public is encouraged to email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, Mesirow said.