By Allen Best
ASPEN, Colo. – It was a somewhat typical week in Aspen. Funkmaster musician George Clinton was coming to town. Also on the agenda were comedian George Carlin and Comedy Channel newsman Stephen Colbert.
But for sheer volume, local politics is the steadiest source of entertainment.
The latest chapter is the coming mayor election in May. The incumbent, Helen Klanderud, is term-limited. In a race characterized as one of “the rich versus the poor,” two candidates so far are vying to replace her.
Best known is Mick Ireland, a former newspaper reporter in Aspen and also a lawyer. Brash and opinionated, he is known to wear skintight cycling gear to meetings in Pitkin County, where he was a commissioner for 12 years, surviving several recall attempts.
Ireland argues powerfully for Aspen’s version of the proletariat, and he wants not only expanded affordable housing, but also lower-cost housing in the city’s commercial core.
Facing him is a former Aspen council member, Tim Semrau, who expects to be called a “dirt pimp,” as real estate agents are often called, and “growth advocate.” But, trying to draw distinctions between himself and Ireland in favorable ways, he calls himself a “problem-solver and a doer,” while he characterizes Ireland as a “career politician.”
The Aspen Times also distinguishes the two candidates by what they drive: a slick road bicycle and beat-up Volkswagen Rabbit for Ireland, and an antique Porsche convertible and a BMW motorcycle for Semrau.
But what the two candidates do have in common is a decision to consult public relations firms. Ireland’s firm has advised podcasts, such as that of a question-and-answer session, that can be posted at YouTube and other Internet sites.
Other potential candidates include Bonnie Behrend, the anchor of a local television news program. In her capacity as news anchor, she asked to interview Semrau. That request drew an annoyed response from the candidate’s PR firm, which said it was not “journalistically appropriate” for a potential candidate. The TV anchor responded that a disclosure of a potential candidacy was the only requirement for journalism ethics.
Jackson tram to be biggest
JACKSON HOLE, Colo. – The old tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort remains in use, but only by the ski patrol. Meanwhile, the new $25 million tram planned is now taking shape on paper.
“This is the biggest, largest, the most money spent on a tram in North America,” says Jerry Blann, the president of the resort.