Carbondale trustee resigns
CARBONDALE – Town Trustee Scott Chaplin has resigned his council seat after six years, effective immediately.In doing so, he issued a strong word of warning in a letter to the editor about the risk of Carbondale becoming another haven for the wealthy due to the lack of affordable housing.”After balancing a wide variety of considerations, it has become clear to me that the best course of action for me at this point in my life is to refocus my energies in some new directions,” Chaplin said in an e-mail Wednesday addressed to town council members and town staff, with a copy sent to The Valley Journal newspaper in Carbondale. “These changes are necessitating that I step down from the Carbondale Board of Trustees. It has been an honor and privilege to work with you all over the past six years.”Town Manager Tom Baker said the town council has the option of either appointing a new member to the board, or throwing the additional seat into the mix for the already scheduled April 1 town council elections. With the convenience of the election just a few months away, he said, it is likely that trustees will opt to include a fourth seat in that election.Three trustee seats, currently held by Russ Criswell, Alice Laird and Ed Cortez, are already up in April. Criswell is term-limited after serving two four-year terms, while Laird and Cortez are each nearing the end of their first term. Neither has indicated at this early stage if they intend to seek re-election.Chaplin, meanwhile, said he would prefer that his seat remain vacant until the election. He even suggested that the amount budgeted for his trustee compensation during the interim be dedicated to the town’s affordable housing efforts.”The most important issue facing the Carbondale Trustees in 2008 is affordable housing,” Chaplin wrote.”The financial tide has already turned on Carbondale’s working class and it is only a matter of time, seven to 10 years according to some housing turnover statistics, when the majority of our community will be replaced by very wealthy households,” he observed.”Although River Valley Ranch and other similar projects have brought many wonderful new neighbors to our area, I doubt that the majority of Carbondale’s current residents could afford, or would even want, to have our town become as economically unbalanced as Aspen has become,” he continued.Chaplin said he regrets that he hasn’t had more time to help find solutions to the affordable housing problem, but suggested that his own personal situation is indicative of the struggle for the working class to continue to afford living in Carbondale and stay active in the community.Recently, Chaplin lobbied the other town board members to address the issue of compensation for town elected officials, saying the time involved compared to the pay ($600 per month for trustees) is not conducive to lower-income individuals getting involved in town government.”I think in the future you are only going to see people who are new homeowners and who have a vested interest in the town,” Chaplin said at the Nov. 27 town council meeting. “I think we are beginning to exclude a lot of people from town government.”Chaplin was also recently prompted to dispel rumors that he was no longer living within town limits – a situation that would disqualify him from continuing in his elected position.”It is not true,” Chaplin said in a Dec. 19 e-mail to town board members and staff, which also was copied to The Valley Journal. “Although I generally don’t feel any need to explain my private life to anyone, given my status as a trustee I thought I should at least fill you all in on my current residence status,” he wrote, adding that personal matters have taken him out of state for lengthy periods.He said he started renting out his home in August, and is now in the process of selling it. While in town, he said, he has been staying with several friends who reside within town limits. He also alluded to some possible decisions affecting his town council position at that time, but did not elaborate.Meanwhile, the last day for nomination petitions for prospective trustee candidates to be turned in is Feb. 29 – Leap Day. Requirements for becoming a candidate state that a person must be a resident of the town proper for at least 12 months prior to the election date. Candidates must also not be a paid employee of the town, nor can they apply for employment with the town during their term. For more information about the upcoming town elections, call town clerk Cathy Derby at 963-2733.Valley Journal reporter Greg Conroy contributed to this report.
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