Four candidates thus far for spring election
The race is on for Mt. Crested Butte Town Council seats, with several residents officially announcing their candidacy this week for the April 1 election.
As of Wednesday, February 27, David Clayton, Andrew Gitin, Bob Goettge and Gary Keiser had turned in petitions for election to the Mt. Crested Butte Town Hall. There are three seats available on the seven-member Mt. Crested Butte Town Council this election, and the deadline for petition submission is Friday, February 29.
David Clayton has been vacationing in the Crested Butte area with his family since 1995, and began living in Mt. Crested Butte half-time in 2004, and full-time as of January 2007. Clayton moved from Florida, where he spent 20 years working for a non-profit marine research lab, and has served on various civic committees.
Clayton says his entrance into local politics was decidedly abrupt. "I realized that some of the major decisions that need to be made in Mt. Crested Butte will be made in the next four years. One of the reasons I’m running is I believe in a small town citizens need to get involved in government and community activities," Clayton says.
Andrew Gitin moved to the Gunnison Valley in 1991 to attend Western State College, and has lived in Mt. Crested Butte since 1992.
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Gitin has been owner of the Gas Café for 10 years, and also founded and operated the Firehouse Grill for five years. He volunteers for the Crested Butte Fire Protection District and the Emergency Medical Services.
Gitin says he’s running for Mt. Crested Butte Town Council because, "I’ve seen it go through good and bad times. I guess my main goal would be to make Mt. Crested Butte more attractive to tourism, and also using my business skills to increase sales tax revenues in Mt. Crested Butte." Gitin says his other priorities include affordable housing, an in-town workforce, and the proposed Mt. Crested Butte Aquatic Recreation Center.
A familiar face at Town Council meetings, Bob Goettge started vacationing in the Crested Butte area in 1991, and bought a house in Mt. Crested Butte in 2001. Partially retired, Goettge currently works half-time doing computer software development. He also participated in the creation of the town’s 2007 Community Plan. "My career was as a small business person," Goettge says. "While you cannot run a town like a business, there are business aspects of running a town, like finances, that are critical to making the rest of the stuff happen."
Goettge believes key issues are economic growth, affordable housing, sense of community, and quality public service. Goettge says, "Right now we are in a time of great change, both economically and otherwise. We have an opportunity to take advantage of that change, and gain a competitive advantage over other resort towns."
Gary Keiser has been skiing and hiking in the Crested Butte area for 25 years. Originally from Dallas, Keiser retired seven years ago and moved to Arrowhead, a townsite development near Cimarron along the Gunnison River. Three years ago he bought a house as a primary residence in Mt. Crested Butte.
Keiser is a retired certified public accountant and a volunteer firefighter, and has sat on various homeowners association boards between Dallas and Gunnison. "I think the existing Town Council has done a good job, but the next four years are going to be really critical in the development of Mt. Crested Butte… I think it’s important that people be involved and be heard. I hope that I can make a contribution in leading the mountain in the right direction," Keiser says.
With four candidates already declared, Mt. Crested Butte town manager Joe Fitzpatrick says it’s good to see this level of public interest in the Town Council election. Fitzpatrick says for the most part there has been a steady interest in serving on the Town Council but, "It varies—anywhere from barely enough to fill the vacancies to a couple of candidates for each chair."
During the last Mt. Crested Butte election in 2004, five candidates ran for four seats.
The official 2008 election day is Tuesday, April 1.
Look for updated coverage, including a question and answer with the final candidates, in upcoming issues of the Crested Butte News.