Mesirow, Richards win seats on Aspen City Council

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Skippy Mesirow celebrates after winning a seat on Aspen city council on Tuesday night.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

Aspen voters sent a message Tuesday that they want change on the City Council by electing Skippy Mesirow and Rachel Richards.

On a night that wasn’t kind to the three current council members — though Councilwoman Ann Mullins qualified for the April 2 mayoral runoff against Torre with 341 fewer votes than him — Mesirow and Richards avoided a runoff by eclipsing the minimum 1,228 votes needed to get elected outright. That figure represents 45 percent of the vote plus a single vote.

Unofficial results showed Richards as the top vote-getter among the four contestants for City Council with 1,729 ballots cast in her favor. Mesirow was next with 1,433 votes, incumbent Councilman Bert Myrin finished third with 1,215 votes and Linda Manning, in her first campaign for public office, garnered 1,076 votes.

Mesirow and Richards were able to capitalize on a voting public that has expressed frustration with the City Council over the last few years, including its handling of the new municipal offices that are now under construction, conducting traffic experiments, proposing a bike corridor on Restaurant Row that was met with firm resistance and failing to select a tenant for the former location of the Aspen Art Museum, among other dealings. A former Aspen mayor and two-term Pitkin County commissioner, Richards, 58, campaigned on a platform that she would continue to pursue the very political objectives she has in the past — housing local workers, preserving open space and working on the state level on matters ranging from health care to the environment.

“Certainly my work represents my values,” Richards said minutes after learning she’d won a seat.

Richards didn’t have the usual amount of campaigning time she had been accustomed to in past elections. That’s because she stepped down from her commissioner seat because of term limits in January. She’ll get two months away from politicking before she takes office June 10. “I’ll have some catching up to do,” she said, while sending a “big thank-you to the community.”

Mesirow, 32, positioned himself as a voice of the younger generation and a proponent of bridging gaps rather than widening them. Mesirow was a primary force behind the campaign to have Aspen’s odd-year elections moved to March from April, after voters in November favored the date change.

“It was just hard work by an amazing team,” he said of his triumph.

The chair of the Aspen Planning & Zoning Commission, Mesirow ran for City Council in 2017, finishing fourth with 792 votes.

Mesirow’s campaign certainly had firepower, as he was able to connect with Aspen’s younger crowd and such longtime, influential residents as former Pitkin County sheriff Bob Braudis, former Aspen councilman Art Daily and developer John Sarpa.

Myrin, 51, was the sole City Council candidate who campaigned against the Lift One development proposal on Aspen Mountain, which voters approved by a margin of 26 votes Tuesday.

During his first 4-year term on the City Council, Myrin fancied himself as a lone wolf, oftentimes at odds with other council members, while maintaining a no-growth position.

During the campaign, however, Myrin said if he were not re-elected, he would continue to be active in Aspen politics on the sidelines as he had done in the past.

Myrin was not present at Aspen City Hall when the results were produced at approximately 8:30 p.m. He also could not be reached by phone.

Manning, 41, who is the Aspen city clerk, stood to leave her job if she were elected because officeholders also can’t hold a job with the city. Manning, who vowed to make the city more accommodating toward businesses, said she was proud of her showing.

“I came to this with a positive attitude,” said Manning, noting that still believes the city would benefit from more working-class people on the council. “And I brought some awareness about City Council.”

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