Planning & Zoning Chair Skippy Mesirow and four others look to round out the Aspen City Council field
Deadline approaches for prospective city council and mayoral candidates
At least one runoff is likely in council race
Monday at 5 p.m. is the deadline for prospective candidates to file nominating petitions in order to make the May 2 ballot for Aspen’s municipal council and mayoral election.
City Clerk Linda Manning said she wouldn’t be surprised if another candidate or two came out of the woodwork before the filing deadline, but the basic parameters of the field appear to be set.
Incumbents Art Daily and Ann Mullins will defend their seats against three challenges: Torre, a former two-term council member; Ward Hauenstein, a longtime local and political observer; and Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission member Skippy Mesirow, who has been active in Aspen politics since helping to launch the Next Generation Advisory Commission in 2013. A council term is four years long.
Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron will run unopposed for his third and final two-year term unless an as-yet unknown challenger emerges in the next few days.
With five well-known candidates in the council race, it is likely that at least one if not both of the seats go to a June runoff. If both seats go to a runoff, four of the five candidates will campaign for an extra month.
Council seats are elected at large, with every registered voter able to pull the lever for their top two choices.
A candidate must clear the threshold of 45 percent of the vote to be elected. Since everyone can vote twice, the city charter says that denominator of the equation used to calculate a candidate’s share of the vote “shall be calculated by dividing the sum of all votes cast for all candidates by two.”
Should two candidates reach over 45 percent under that formula, then no runoff will be needed. If one makes it, the second and third place finishers will advance to a runoff. If no one clears 45 percent, the fifth wheel would fall off and the other four candidates would continue on for another month.
Manning said that “bullet voting” — where a voter marks their ballot for only one candidate — may be more popular this year, given those dynamics. By bullet voting for your most preferred candidate, it in effect gives more weight to your vote than someone who votes twice, in an effort to get your preferred candidate closer to the 45 percent threshold.
The mayoral race goes to a runoff if no candidate clears the 50 percent threshold.
To get on the ballot, a prospective candidate must pick up a nominating petition from the clerk’s office in city hall and return it with 25 signatures from registered Aspen voters.
Those who may not have an appetite for electoral politics but would still be interested in a leadership role in city governance could apply for numerous openings on municipal boards and commissions. Manning said the historic preservation commission, commercial core and lodging commission and the local liquor and marijuana licensing authority all have vacancies that need to be filled. Applications can be downloaded from the city clerk’s page at cityofaspen.com/departments/clerk and clicking on the boards and commissions tab. Once a field of applicants is gathered, city council conducts interviews and appoints members of the volunteer boards.