Ireland is new Aspen mayor
ASPEN Mick Ireland hoisted a bottle of Brut champagne while his posse of supporters merrily drank from plastic cups inside his employee-housing unit. Tim Semrau and his wife quietly moseyed into an upscale downtown restaurant, ordering a waiter to tell the press he would not be giving interviews.And as of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday – and $90,000 in campaign fundraising later – Semrau and Ireland had yet to speak to each other.”I understand it can hurt to lose,” Ireland said, publicly acknowledging his respect for Semrau and his candidacy.So it went in the mayoral runoff election, as Aspen voters picked granola over growth, casting 1,209 votes for Ireland as he dismantled Semrau’s spirited and aggressive bid to reverse his fortune from the May election. Instead, Semrau reeled in 913 votes, or 43 percent, shy of what the mayoral hopeful needed to claim a seat that pays some $27,000 a year.”Hopefully this will make things better for our great little town,” Shelly Wilcox said after the results became official.The runoff was the offspring of a May election that saw none of original four mayoral candidates collect the required number of votes to win outright (50 percent, plus one vote). Ireland, a former county commissioner, and Semrau, a former city councilman, emerged from the pack, collecting 1,036 votes (48 percent) and 747 (34 percent), respectively.So the two went on the obligatory campaign trails once again, staging debates all over Aspen and even at Owl Farm, the home of the late Hunter S. Thompson.And the pair also found themselves repeatedly trying to defuse the criticisms against them. For Ireland it was a reputation of being an arrogant and aloof career politician whose philosophy was influenced by communism and tree-hugging; for Semrau it was his image as a developer beholden to the business interests while compromising the environment.Even their preferred transportation modes – from Ireland pedaling around on his 12-speed bicycle to Semrau tooling about in a Porsche, BMW motorcycle and an SUV – went under the public microscope, and sometimes their skin.Meanwhile, at Ireland’s victory party, he found himself preaching to a choir of admiring supporters, which included the likes of Aspen City Councilmen Jack Johnson and J.E. DeVilbiss.Ireland, 57, said he plans to crusade for putting an end to what he believes is an inefficient runoff system that wastes time and money.”Our first goal is to change a system that drags out people to the polls in June,” Ireland said.Indeed, the two candidates combined to raise nearly $90,000 – more than $50,000 going to Semrau’s war chest, nearly $40,000 to Ireland’s. That translated to more than $42 per vote between the two.Ireland also was critical of the two-year terms for mayor. He said he would like to change that to four years, but not during his first term as the city’s top elected official.Ireland also vowed to not accept the “freebies” that go with being mayor, starting with a free pass to the Food & Wine Classic later this month.His first day on the job will be Monday, when he succeeds Mayor Helen Klanderud, who will be exiting her post because of term limits.He’ll be one of three new members on the City Council, joining incumbents DeVilbiss and Johnson, as well as newcomers Dwayne Romero and Steve Skadron, who claimed seats in the recent elections.Ireland said he doesn’t consider himself more aligned with any council member more than another.
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After a gas line break was identified at the intersection of Midland Avenue and Mt. Sopris Drive, traffic is expected to resume at 1:30 p.m., the city said.