Aspen Times mayor questionnaire, part 2
Editor's note: This is the second of a five-part questionnaire for the two mayoral candidates in the May election — incumbent Steve Skadron and challenger Lee Mulcahy. The series concludes Friday. Mail ballots will be sent out April 10, the same day The Aspen Times launches its five-part series of questions for the six candidates vying for the two open seats on Aspen City Council.
Today's question: What area of Aspen city government needs the most improvement?
Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, so it is equipped to respond to a maturing program and the issues in front of it, specifically the long-term health of aging units and compliance with the existing rules and regulation.
APCHA needs more and better enforcement tools. It should add an additional enforcement officer to focus full time on making sure that those who get into housing are playing by the rules, and it should create a progressive penalty structure that will add more disciplinary choices than the current options of asking "please don't do it again" or eviction. In addition, to safeguard the long-term health of the affordable-housing program, we need to work out a capital reserve policy and implement it. This will establish capital reserve minimums that preserve the health of the building stock and ensure its long-term viability.
Where to start? As wonderful as Aspen is, we can do better. If you believe Aspen Skiing Co. and local government need more power and more of your taxes, stop reading and vote for the corrupt machine's incumbents for mayor and council.
1. Wasteful spending and uncontrolled government development. The city manager's parking scandals are just the tip of the iceberg. It's time we put the city manager on notice. As a fiscal conservative, if elected, I propose to shrink the ever-expanding city bureaucracy with (1) a city hiring freeze and (2) property tax cut. Continually increasing property taxes has had the sad effect of hollowing out Aspen's old guard, who are departing for greener pastures downvalley and elsewhere. The mayor's empire building now includes a 45-foot, 9-inch-tall "Taj Majal" city office building. (It's awesome to be the city so you can erect a 17-foot-taller building than anyone else!)
If elected, I promise to be mayor for a buck and not run for re-election in 2019; instead to pass the baton to Bert Myrin.
2. Transparency and no secret executive sessions: The cronyism and corruption displayed by the mayor and city manager create much of the divisiveness from people feeling they're completely shut out from the non-transparent processes. Local government's overuse of executive (secret) sessions are fostered by procedures like emergency ordinances. City government isn't open; therefore it isn't trusted. This is not a partisan problem; however, it is a problem we can fix.
3. Unite Aspen: As mayor, we can work toward the positive changes Aspen deserves. We must go back to the fundamentals of open, nonpartisan leadership. Government should be conducted according to our terrific city constitution, our home rule charter (with open government, reliance on volunteer citizen boards and commissions, and accountability of the city manager and staff). Citizens need a voice in order to feel they are partners with City Council in making Aspen even better.
4. Most importantly, keep Aspen funky: The corporate MBA urban vision promoted by our corrupt mayor as a vision for the future is sad. The principles of rural community, loving our neighbors, freedom and liberty should trump a retaliatory political City Hall machine run by lawyers and their big-money cronies.