Myrin wins seat on Aspen City Council by wide margin
The Aspen Times
In a landslide victory, Bert Myrin won Tuesday’s runoff election for an open Aspen City Council seat, beating out former Mayor Mick Ireland by a 1,305-684 margin.
That’s 65.6 percent of the 1,989 votes cast, according to unofficial election results. Myrin, who petitioned to get Referendum 1 on May’s ballot, said Tuesday at his West End home that he never enters the political arena with expectations of winning.
“This is exciting,” Myrin told his supporters. “It wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of people talking to a lot of people. This was not a top-up campaign. It was a bottom-up campaign.”
Referendum 1 and the repeal of Ordinance 19, the controversial lodging-incentive package, are among the victories credited to Myrin’s camp in the past year. And if his new position allows it, he said Tuesday that he would like to play a role in referring Mark Hunt’s Base2 to Aspen’s voters. Council approved the Main Street lodge concept Monday, awarding zoning breaks on floor area, setbacks and parking. Each of those breaks would trigger a public vote under the referendum-spurred Home Rule Charter amendment, which Base2 wasn’t subject to because the application was submitted before final Referendum 1 election certification last month. A citizen or citizens could start a petition effort to send the decision to a public vote, however.
Myrin said he would like to teach others to petition against City Hall decisions, as he’s done for more than a decade.
“You can’t rely always on one person to do everything,” Myrin said. “I’ve always been that one person who’s organized the tools to level the playing field against the city.”
Myrin wondered if his opponent Ireland will organize an effort. Ireland, however, said Tuesday that he’s been campaigning for three months and it’s time to get back to his real job as an attorney. Ireland added that he was not surprised by the runoff results, saying the two most likely outcomes, based on his projections, were a large Myrin victory or a small Ireland victory. As Ireland mentioned at the most recent Squirm Night, he will not seek another elected seat in Aspen.
“I will not be running for city council or mayor ever again, barring a meteor crash and me being the only eligible person to run or something like that,” Ireland said. “I’m pretty well campaigned out.”
Ireland said it will be interesting to see what initiatives Myrin supports, rather than the ones he rallies against. Myrin’s battles, Ireland said, have all been efforts to stop City Hall action.
“There’s nothing wrong with being against everything and being a gadfly. It’s very respectable,” Ireland said. “But there’s going to be a time when you have to make decisions on what you’re for. How he’ll do that I don’t know. He’s unknown in that respect.”
Ireland said he is proud of his 2015 campaign, claiming his side maintained a respectful and civil tenor. He also expressed pride in his endorsers, Mayor Steve Skadron, Sheriff Joe DiSalvo and former Sheriff Bob Braudis among them.
Myrin was asked how the dynamic will play out on council when three of the members, Skadron, Councilman Art Daily and Councilwoman Ann Mullins, voiced support for Ireland.
“I think both Mick and I would have represented a similar vote for the next four years,” Myrin said, adding that the Skadron-Ireland dynamic might have presented a more volatile atmosphere.
Prior to Tuesday’s results, Myrin unaffiliated himself from Pitkin County’s Democratic Party, citing a troubled relationship with party chairwoman Blanca O’Leary and her husband Cavanaugh O’Leary, a Referendum 1 sponsor. Myrin’s husband Walt Madden also resigned as the party’s treasurer. Myrin said he was disappointed that the O’Learys supported Ireland in the runoff after supporting both in the May 5 election.
If upheld, Tuesday’s results would mean the second largest turnout for a runoff contest since 2001, when Aspen instituted the practice. The 1,989 total votes register as second to only 2007, when 2,061 votes were cast in a runoff between Mayor Steve Skadron and Toni Kronberg.
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Citing employee safety and cost effectiveness, the city will soon relocate the five departments currently housed in its Municipal Operations Center (MOC).