"It looks as if our old friend Hugh Bris is back in town." -- Gore Vidal
THE NOVEMBER 3 ELECTION RESULTS
The unofficial results are in, and after serving as a Pitkin County election judge for 12 hours today, I'm gonna keep it short and sweet.
For the most up to date election results and for all measures on the ballot throughout Pitkin County, click HERE
ASPEN 2A: BASE 2 GETS CLOBBERED
I'm actually surprised that it wasn't MUCH MUCH closer! Base 2, the 37-room affordable lodge proposed for the corner of Monarch and Main, was handily defeated 1427-728 (66% - 34%). This issue was far less about the proposed lodge and far more about shuttering development in Aspen. Mark Hunt's Base 2 Lodge became a proxy for development sins committed by city councils past and present (think: Art Museum). The opponents objected from the get-go to land use concessions granted to the developer for his plans to build a long-desired (by the community, or so the Aspen Area Community Plan has said for the past 40 years) affordable lodge. And yes, there were several. But now we get a new building, arguably a bit less dense than the proposed Base 2 lodge, that will likely house a national bank, a chain pharmacy or a mega-brand retail store at street level with offices or residential above.
This campaign was yet another ugly chapter in Aspen's electoral politics. The developer was vilified for not revealing who his investors are (as if it's anyone's business) and publicly accused of being dishonest and disingenuous. The fear campaign was mounted citing Hunt's numerous other properties in town and predictions of "variances gone wild" should Base 2 have been approved. How quickly the Aspen electorate forgets that just last May the voters stripped council of its ability to grant future land use variances!!
One curious situation emerged amidst the campaign when Carl of Carl's Pharmacy was convinced to oppose the Base 2 lodge. How he got this wrong is anyone's guess. If a lodge were to be built across the street from Carl's, he would have had a captive audience of 37-74 people, inches from his business, 24/7/365. We all know that Carl's sells EVERYTHING, so his shop would become the "bodega" for Base 2. Beer, sundries, socks, snacks -- you name it. If I had been Carl, I'd have been quickly on the other side of this one, and would have also looked into plans to replace the long-lost soda fountain and counter to serve his new neighbors! Now Carl has to wonder -- who will be his across-the-street neighbor and will it be a competitor?
But the most egregious part of this whole issue came from comments in numerous letters to the editor throughout election season. There is widespread discontent here in the People's Republic of Aspen over the recent and growing success of our tourism seasons. It seems the locals resent the visiting crowds and wish there were far fewer people who come to town. Yes, the same people whose very livelihoods are pegged to a service-based tourism economy want to pull the drawbridge up! These folks vehemently opposed a new lodge of any sort because they don't want any more people here. (Just think, you probably subsidized the roofs over may of these same people's heads.)
As I have earlier stated, I now hope the concept of "affordable lodging" in Aspen can die. This was our shot; after this vote, I can't imagine what other developer would ever deign to try it again. Frankly, it would be foolish.
COLORADO PROP BB WINS BIG
This question was an attempt by the State of Colorado to de-Bruce the existing marijuana taxes collected by the government, ostensibly so that more funds can be spent on school construction, marijuana education and prevention programs and youth programs.
The measure passed 3418-878 (80% - 20%). Let's hope that money somehow finds its way to the schools!
PITKIN COUNTY 1A: A RESOUNDING YES
This question asked voters if the county should opt out of Senate Bill 152 which bans governments from offering internet services to the public. Pitco does not want to offer broadband services itself, rather, the county seeks to invest in broadband infrastructure improvements for residents who live in rural, remote, rugged, low density areas.
The measure passed 92% - 8%.
ASPEN 2B: A SQUEAKER
The Armory building at the northeast corner of Galena and Hopkins Streets is where City Hall is currently located. Council has determined that it prefers to move all city offices under one (to-be-constructed) roof in a 52,000 sf new facility in Rio Grande Plaza rather than continue to house city offices a block away their current location, at other city-owned facilities throughout town, and some at a new (smaller than 52,000 sf) facility. One alternative use for the Armory space would be a community center, for events, meetings, dances, gatherings. This is an advisory vote on the matter.
At press time, since these are merely unofficial results -- city offices 1044 (51%), community use 1021 (49%) -- this one is simply too close to call.
ASPEN 3A: A WIN FOR THE SCHOOLS
This property tax increase for the schools passed 2369 - 1180 (67% - 33%). The additional $1 million raised for the schools is just the beginning of the tin-cup rattling campaigns and tax increases to come.
I am looking forward to meeting with the Aspen Education Foundation to discuss better and more reliable long term funding options for our schools because the nickel and diming has got to stop!
COLORADO MOUNTAIN JUNIOR COLLEGE DISTRICT 4D: YES
Similar to Pitkin County 1A above, Colorado Mountain College wanted to get out from under SB-152 too in order to have the authority to offer broadband service should it ever be needed for its campuses or the communities it serves.
The measure passed 3421 - 472 (88% - 12%).
ASPEN VALLEY HOSPITAL DISTRICT 5A: BIG WIN
This is neither a new tax nor a tax increase. Originally passed in 1995, this question is for the extension of the existing up-to-1.5 mills mill levy through 2020. It has been re-authorized in 2000, 2005 and 2010 at the same rate.
This measure passed resoundingly 2835 - 1147 (71% - 29%).
NOW THAT ELECTION SEASON IS OVER (FOR NOW)...
The Red Ant looks forward to opining on the political topics of the day, including upcoming topics:
- The Library Expansion: what's going on over there and where did all the money come from??
- The near and long term future for the Old Power House: Library? Liquor? Litigation?
- Aspen's Millennials: Entitled whiners? Entrepreneurs? Employees?