On the stump: Aspen mayor decries 'boom and bust' business cycles, 'empty holes' in the ground

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenMarch 31, 2011
Mayor Mick Ireland held a press conference at Peach's Corner Café in Aspen today, four and a half weeks before the May 3 election, propping up a platform that sustains both the economy and the environment.

“Two years ago, I stood here in front of a shuttered business,” he said of his 2009 campaign speech at the defunct Zélé Café. “I proposed then that we could revitalize the economy by soliciting citizen-sponsored ideas for special events that would enhance Aspen's image as welcoming, lively and accessible to all. Those ideas, conceived and carried out largely by citizens with some funding from the city, are already familiar: Eco Fest, Fashion Week, Singer Songwriter, Mountain Film, Aspen Outdoors and the Quiznos Pro Bike race. The importance of these events is not just the $29 million in direct spending they generated but the direction they point for Aspen, a tourist economy based on our sharing this beautiful place with others in a manner that does not depend on speculative financial market cycles of boom and bust and does not leave us with empty holes to fill in the ground and the job market.”

Protecting the environment, he noted, is a core Aspen value and essential to a sustainable economy.

“Without snow, forests, clean water and clean air, all the festivals in the world will not sustain us. … Through our conservation measures, we have taken a leadership role by using utility rates to discourage excess consumption, we removed toxins and debris from much of our storm water with bio ponds and we have created a zero waste standard for our special events,” the mayor said. “Much remains to be done. As the economy improves, we need to implement zoning that creates scale and mass consistent with the community desires for local serving businesses and a diverse lodging base. We must continue to listen to citizens ideas on events that will help present Aspen as a place that shares its beauty with all. … We can and must seek to provide renewable energy on a local basis with hydro power, wind, solar, and, I hope geothermal resources just below our city in existing mine shafts.”
Mick Ireland (right) kicked off his third bid to be Aspen's mayor at Peach's Corner Café on Thursday.
Troy Hooper

Ireland, who is wrapping up his second two-year term, was asked whether he might seek to rescind term limits so that he could stay in office longer. He answered that he believes the current limit of three two-year terms should be modified to two four-year terms to cut back on campaigning and the games developers play to wait for the right composition on Aspen City Council before submitting their applications. But, the mayor said, he would only support such a measure so long as it contained a clause that prevented him from benefiting from it. He said he will not run for mayor of Aspen in 2013.

The mayor said it is “with a strong sense of gratitude and humility” that he is asking for voter support.

Longtime local real estate broker Ruth Kruger this week announced she will challenge Mayor Ireland's re-election bid. Appointed to fill Dwayne Romero's open council seat earlier this month, Kruger said in a couple of weeks she's seen enough to believe the council bases some decisions on emotion, not logic.

The city should be run more like a business, she said.

When she was asked by Real Aspen whether the interests of the community ever conflict with bottom-line-driven leadership, Kruger answered that she believes what's good for business is good for the city.

Andrew Kole is Aspen's only other mayoral candidate.

His campaign slogan is "stop wasting my time, stop wasting my money.”

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