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ISSUE # 93: ANT Alert: Election Recap

"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." 

                                  --  John Wooden

It wasn't pretty.  Not in the least.  Painful even.  But the people have spoken.

There were 2221 (Wednesday morning unofficial tally) votes in the mayoral contest:

 Steve Skadron          516                  23.2%
 Torre                       463                 20.8%
 Maurice Emmer         396                 17.8%
 Adam Frisch              369                 16.8%
 Derek Johnson          346                 15.5%
 LJ Erspamer              131                  5.8%

Since no one candidate broke the 50% threshold, we are faced with a mayoral run-off between Steve and Torre on June 4.  I will (of course) be weighing in with recommendations, but in the meantime, must noodle how on earth I will support one of these guys.  I suppose it will be a recommendation to vote for the "least worst" of the two.  Swell.  So you've got THAT to look forward to.

There will not be a run-off in the council race.  Art and Ann won decisively, each garnering more than the 45% of votes necessary for election.

 Art Daily                   1435
 Ann Mullins                1287
 Dwayne Romero         1094
 Jonny Carlson             108

 Here are my thoughts on how we got skunked in this election.  And boy did we! 

The mayoral race came off the rails before voting even began.  For the first time in recent memory, all 4 sitting councilmen threw their hats into the ring. On one hand, each thought HE could do a better job than mayor Mick (who was prevented from running due to term limits), and I won't argue that.  But each also completely forgot about political alliances, voting strategy and the quirky behaviors of Aspen voters when it comes to casting their ballots.  With the additions of strong competition from hydro plant opponent Maurice Emmer and planning and zoning chair LJ Erspamer, the votes were sure to be scattered far and wide.  And were they!!

Councilman Adam Frisch, who lost his mayoral bid but retains his seat on council to finish out his 4-year term, according to the Aspen Daily News "compared Aspen's electorate to a pie, with about half leaning toward more pro-business policies and half being in favor of growth restrictions.  When one half of the pie is split between two people and the other is split between three, 'the two people get to eat more.'" And THAT is EXACTLY how it played out.  

This year, we had the unprecedented presence of a group of civic and business leaders (who shall remain nameless) in the mix: the self-appointed "council of elders" as I called them.  Sadly, these community heavyweights were unable to convince any one of the more pro-business candidates to stand down for the sake of the community so as to obtain that elusive 3-2 majority we have all long sought at the council table.  They spoke to both Derek and Adam, whose egos did not allow them to run again for a council seat (Derek) or sit tight in his own seat (Adam).  The concept wasn't personal; it was about not splitting the vote.  But both councilmen were stubbornly committed to pressing on.  So, we got exactly what we deserved:  a mayoral contest between Steve and Torre.  

Had Derek or Adam stepped aside, we'd be headed to the play-offs.  Just look at the numbers above. And weep.

It was perhaps the most anemic campaign in Aspen's storied political history. Yes, the entire community was indeed SICK OF MICK, but the majority came out in favor of his political heir, Steve.  And the local fish wrappers both sickeningly endorsed Torre, the one-named tennis professional, for mayor.  Even their endorsements were pallid; it seemed as though there is a pathetic local sentiment that it is somehow "Torre's turn" after running for mayor and losing 3 times in the past.  Or maybe they just want to get his 2-year term out of the way -- the guy will clearly fun for mayor until he wins or dies.  (Can't make this stuff up.)


But do note: in a numerical analysis, consider that 979 voters supported the "pro-Mick" candidates (Steve and Torre) vs 1111 for the "anti-Micksters."  That's 47%  vs 53%.  The 131 votes that went to LJ are not included in these numbers because they cannot be well predicted in terms of where they'd go -- they'd likely be split among the other 5.  SO, as opposed to this election being a "pro-Mick" anti-growth mandate, it's just the opposite.  Food for thought.  But you'll likely only read that here.

In the council race, I am astounded.  Simply astounded.  I would have bet dollars to donuts on Dwayne taking that race.  But I suppose his pro-business stance and smarts hurt him with our entitled electorate.  That's all I can come up with.  Art and Ann, both lovely people I'm sure, will serve with consideration and seriousness.  But Ann is an avowed Mick-olyte and Art, for all of his "longtime local" reputation, isn't far off.  ("The elders" really dropped the ball here; they recruited a "good guy" but never asked where he stood on the critical issues.)

It's not over yet, but 3 seats at the table are already looking pro-government, unfriendly to business and anti- any kind of development:  Art, Ann and either Skadron or Torre.  If Torre wins, Skadron keeps his seat on council for 2 more years.  In my math, that's 4 at the table.  UGH.  If Skadron wins, we are rid of Torre, but that empty seat will be filled via an appointment by Ann, Art, Steve and Adam.  Doesn't bode well for even a 2-3 vote.  And there's that lingering fear of Mick being appointed... Horrors!

More in a couple weeks when I sort out what to do next.  I am still in shock!

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