Candidate for mayor of city of Aspen, Torre, speaks at the 2019 edition of Squirm Night, a question-and-answer forum for local election candidates.

Aspen deserves a strong and unwavering presence at the helm and a person who has an ear to the ground for the community’s needs. Torre, who brings both experience and a fresh perspective to the council table, is our choice for the next mayor of Aspen.

Torre rose to the top as someone most likely to effect positive change in city hall during what could be an era of some difficult decision-making. He can start fresh in the seat, unlike the two respected and well-meaning incumbents, Ann Mullins and Adam Frisch, who have been loyal and competent public servants, but who are unfortunately burdened with some of council’s recent actions.

If anything has become obvious over the past three months, with the breathtakingly rapid departures of the city manager and assistant city manager, it’s that the system is broken and should be rebooted. We think Torre is the change agent the city needs at this time.

Torre’s instincts are toward strong decision-making and following through on initiatives. That has been lacking with this council, which has launched a number of initiatives that never came to fruition, including the process to reimagine the Old Powerhouse, the mobility lab and a publicly-supported plan to convert the existing city hall into a community center. Understanding where this council has been at on these and other issues has been difficult. Torre, on the other hand, can be counted on to tell you right where he stands.

Torre is the candidate most likely to keep his eye on growth generated inside and outside of city hall. He has the kind of personality that can help break down some of the silos that have formed in the old armory building. He’s equipped to carry out a smart-growth, but not a no-growth, agenda.

Torre’s environmental bent, working in the trenches on the plastic grocery bag ban and lending a steady hand to the city’s compositing program, should be considered legacy victories. That kind of bold leadership will be needed more than ever as the future of the Rio Grande recycling center is determined and we look to a future where we will eventually run out of space at the Pitkin County landfill.

Affordable housing is unquestionably one of Aspen’s most pressing issues. We believe Torre’s holistic approach to new construction, favoring the start of Burlingame’s third phase and looking at viable options for the BMC property at the Aspen Business Center, is balanced with concerns for maintaining the housing stock on complexes like Centennial that are limping into middle age.

To the argument that Torre emerges every few years out of the blue to shake up the campaign, it’s true he has had multiple unsuccessful runs, but it should not be forgotten Torre also served two council terms. He came up two dozen votes short of winning the council seat in 2017 currently held by Ward Hauenstein. When it comes to analyzing the city’s $120 million budget, during his editorial board interview Torre indicated that he will be judicious with the taxpayers’ money and future mill levy increases.

We want to take this opportunity to thank Frisch and Mullins for their service over the years. We are heartened to know that Mullins still has two years left to go on her council term, so she will remain on the board no matter what. We will continue to benefit from her collaborative thought process. Frisch has been a valuable presence on the board and has strong analytical skills. While both could be able mayors, the reality is that this community is ready for change.

It is also great to see an increasing interest in Aspen politics by the younger generation, exemplified in the mayoral race with the candidacy of Cale Mitchell. We encourage Mitchell to stay involved and his time as an elected leader may yet come. In the meantime, we hope to see him take a seat on any one of numerous advisory boards that help guide local policy.

March 5 represents a bellwether election in Aspen’s history, one that will require bringing the right players into the room to navigate some potentially challenging, yet exciting times. Torre should be drafted to lead the team.

The Aspen Daily News endorsements were crafted by the editorial board, which includes publisher David Cook, editor Curtis Wackerle, contributing editor Madeleine Osberger and co-owner Spencer McKnight.