City Council candidates tell their Aspen story and why they…


The Aspen Times has asked candidates for Aspen City Council to answer five questions about who they are and what their positions are on various issues facing the community.

We will publish one question and their answers from the candidates each day this week, today through Friday. Next week, The Aspen Times will publish the mayoral candidate responses.

Today is the first question getting to know the candidates and why they are the best fit for elected office.

Question 1: Tell us your Aspen story: How you got here and why you stayed; age, occupation and government experience. Also, name a person who is dead that you’d like to have dinner with and why. Finally, what makes you the best fit for council?

Linda Manning

I moved to Colorado sight unseen to open the Lowes store in Glenwood Springs, having never been farther west of the Mississippi River.

I’m originally from western Pennsylvania and the folks at Lowes were opening a few stores in Colorado and asked if I was interested in jumping ship. All it took was a quick Google search to see I would be going from 80 days of sun a year to 300 and I was hooked. Next thing I knew I was driving a U-Haul across the country.

I spent a few years with Lowes and then went to work for the lumberyard at the (Aspen Business Center) for a couple years. Ten years ago, I applied for a job with the city of Aspen as the utility billing supervisor. Thus began my career with the city.

That job morphed to include sales tax and business licenses with the Finance Department. I eventually moved into the Clerk’s Office as the records manager, and then became the city clerk when Kathryn Koch retired. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost five years. I’m 41 years old.

If I could have dinner with a dead person, I would choose my father. He died when I was 14. My dad worked in the city during the week and pretended to be a farmer on the weekend.

Most of my memories are of him on his tractor and us behind it pitching rocks or baling hay. I would like to have a conversation with my dad now that I am grown up and hear from him about meeting my mom for the first time and what it was like in Korea during the war.

I think I’m the best fit for council because I’ve seen the government function from the inside everyday for the last 10 years. I know what we do well and what we need to improve on.

Skippy Mesirow

My grandparents first came to Aspen in ’52. Stein Eriksen taught my mom to ski, and she extended me the favor at 15 months. I moved here 14 years ago.

I am grateful to live in the best place in the world. I have immense respect for those that came before me and did the hard things required to have a full community — downzoning, open spaces, walking malls, affordable housing.

Once again we are at a tipping point. Our middle has been eroding and no society survives with only the ultra-wealthy and the servant class. This is our fight now and I feel compelled to work tirelessly to do the difficult things our current officials have not.

At 32 years old, I come to this challenge with both a fresh perspective on solving difficult problems and the experience necessary to accomplish our goals. As the GM of a vacation rental business, I understand the working community of Aspen. In three terms as chair of our Planning and Zoning Commission, I have been successful in reforming process and have gained the expertise needed to approach land-use decisions. In two terms as chair of NextGen, I have demonstrated the ability to lead successful, public-engagement processes, and have driven important initiatives to support local businesses and improve housing. As a leader of 2A to change our local election date, I demonstrated the ability to organize and win on an issue our community had been trying to solve since the ’80s.

If I could have dinner with one dead person, it would be Teddy Roosevelt: his energy, zest for life, strength of character, and willingness to buck party and convention to defend the best interests of the people are qualities I admire. Then I’d hopefully accompany him on safari in offseason!

Bert Myrin

In 1986 I graduated high school from Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale. I have lived in Aspen ever since, except for college and law school. I’m 51 years old and this year I will celebrate 24 years together with my husband, Walt Madden.

For the past 15 years, I’ve been a volunteer organizer of citizen initiatives and citizen referendums within the city of Aspen. I’m a past volunteer on the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission. I’m currently on Aspen City Council, a licensed real estate broker and a licensed attorney.

During the past four years we have lost several voices that spoke for Aspen the community — Su Lum, Junee Kirk, Maggie and Nick DeWolf, Carl Bergman and Pitkin Board of County Commissioners members Dwight Shellman and Jack Hatfield. I miss their energy and passion, and wish they were still here contributing to our community.

I didn’t know John and Frank Dolinsek but I would be very curious to hear first-hand how they would vote on the proposed hotels on South Aspen Street.

There are plenty of people speaking for the resort; we need leadership speaking for our quality of life in Aspen. I have been that voice at the council table for the past four years and I ask for your vote so I can continue to be that voice for the next four years.

Rachel Richards

After high school I researched moving to Colorado for a “skip year.” Seeing the “Power of Four” on the state map, I chose Aspen. Sold my Mustang and took the Greyhound from Maryland. Spent my first night in the un-refurbished Hotel Jerome and began working the next day. Was amazed at the paradise I had found — great skiing, new friends, rewarding work and independence. Soon I was working multiple jobs, as so many people do here to survive.

My political involvement began with Snowmass’s Burnt Mountain expansion, concerned with the elk migration and calving areas. Concurrently a CMC/Pitkin County sponsored series, “Unlimited Demands, Limited Resources = Hard Choices” stirred my desire to help resolve the issues confronting our community.

I am 58 now and can proudly recount lasting successes for our community from each of the 25 years I’ve been honored to serve in elected office.

I’ve worked diligently as a Pitkin County commissioner, and former Aspen city council member and mayor, locally and statewide on issues that impact our people, town and environment. I believe cooperation and collaboration are key to developing solutions, and that hard work and consistency are what turn big goals into reality, like creating the regional transportation authority, securing Burlingame housing or developing the Aspen Recreation Center.

Currently, I believe the City Council should refocus on stability and restoring public trust in their public involvement and decision making processes.

Hiring the right manager, reviewing budgets for wise use of resources and alignment with community goals, supporting the frontline staff who deliver great city services every day and who hope just for consistent, clear direction.

My dinner party would include David Bowie, Anthony Bourdain, Greg Allman, and Tom Petty, just because I don’t think about politics all the time.

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