In this Mt. Crested Butte Town Council election, voters are being confronted with an interesting situation—two separate slates of three candidates running for three open seats. One slate consists of Bob Goettge, Susan Eskew and Jim Sharpe, while the second is David Clayton, Andrew Gitin and Gary Keiser.
In this election, my pick for Mt. Crested Butte is the latter.
David Clayton hasn’t been in the community for that long—but you’d never know it. Since settling in Mt. Crested Butte from Florida in January 2007, he’s been an extremely active volunteer, serving on the Crested Butte Center for the Arts and the Crested Butte Academy boards, amongst other organizations. He’s also the general manager at KBUT 90.3.
During the Crested Butte News Mt. Crested Butte Candidates Forum on Sunday, March 16, Clayton mentioned several times the desire to see Mt. Crested Butte work regionally to solve the East River Valley’s toughest issues—from funding recreation initiatives like an aquatic center to addressing transportation and traffic. I think Clayton has the diplomatic skills to put those ideals into action.
In addition, I’ve seen that Clayton pays attention to the details and gets things done efficiently—without a lot of hoopla. He seems like a smart guy who’s willing to put in the time to serve the people of Mt. Crested Butte. I encourage a vote for him.
Andrew Gitin is my second pick for the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council. Gitin moved to Mt. Crested Butte in 1992, graduated from Western State College, and has served as a volunteer for the Crested Butte Fire Protection District for 15 years.
Gitin may not be as articulate as his fellow candidates but he speaks from his heart. He’s got a genuine love for Mt. Crested Butte, its people and he wants to see businesses succeed in his chosen hometown. With two successful local businesses under his own belt, I’d like to see what his kind of enthusiasm will bring to the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council table.
I also like what Gitin represents, which is a younger, working person who lists amongst his personal experience alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and hiking. I believe Mt. Crested Butte needs that kind of energy to take it into the future.
My final pick is Gary Keiser. I didn’t know Keiser prior to this election but in hearing him speak at the Candidates Forum and corresponding with him, I’ve come to respect his even-handed attitude.
A former CPA who’s been in Gunnison County for seven years, Keiser has taken an active role in helping the current Mt. Crested Butte Town Council draft its 5-year financial plan. Keiser says he’s not for a property tax increase in Mt. Crested Butte, but he’s not willing to rule it out as an option until all the cards are on the table. I appreciate this sound, conservative approach to managing the town’s finances.
Keiser is also a proponent of working more closely with the Crested Butte Town Council and Gunnison County on issues of mutual concern. With his recent history in Gunnison and respectful tone, I think Keiser’s addition to the Town Council will go a long way toward building bridges.
All three of these candidates agree that Mt. Crested Butte’s relationship with CBMR is symbiotic but must be treated seriously. Mt. Crested Butte needs to be the resort’s “watchdog and not the house pet” as Clayton put it to me. I wholeheartedly agree and hope the candidates remember those words if they’re elected.
The three remaining candidates have run good campaigns. All three have asked some tough questions and should be commended for bringing open debate to Mt. Crested Butte.
Bob Goettge ran on a main platform of avoiding a potential $2.6 million deficit in Mt. Crested Butte by the year 2012 and building the town’s general fund. To do so, he would consider asking voters to raise the admissions tax and maintain the current sales tax rate in Mt. Crested Butte (a half percent is set to sunset in 2008.) He’s opposed to approaching voters to raise the property tax rate, as the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council has discussed.
Goettge has been a powerful voice of dissent in Mt. Crested Butte and I appreciate his willingness to question the Town Council’s decisions. Through his incisive inquiries, I think we all understand issues better.
However, Goettge has teetered on the very fine line between dissenter and obstructionist. He seems to put tremendous energy into throwing up roadblocks but not necessarily creating workable solutions to the issues that he finds. Compromise is the name of the game in local politics and I’m unsure if Goettge is willing to make concessions for the greater good. That question makes me reluctant to endorse him.
Susan Eskew has a lot of good history of community service here in Gunnison County and in Mt. Crested Butte. She’s passionate about creating a community in Mt. Crested Butte that people want to live in—one replete with a post office, shops that appeal to local residents, parks and amenities. Those are admirable goals.
Eskew was the subject of some pointed questions at the Candidates Forum and she defended her ideas by explaining she’s willing to think outside of the box. While a measure of unconventional thinking is good and needed, some of her ideas have shown a lack of research that’s unsettling. It makes her a tough pick for Town Council right now.
Like Keiser, I didn’t know Jim Sharpe prior to this election season. I’ve liked some of what Sharpe has to say—he’s devoted to improving public participation and instilling an open government attitude in Mt. Crested Butte. He also wants to see an improved relationship with Crested Butte and Gunnison County. However, Sharpe has supported many of Goettge and Eskew’s positions, making him another tough pick.
While these three candidates aren’t my picks, I’d encourage them to remain active in local politics and continue to ask the tough questions of Mt. Crested Butte officials. It can only make our public process better.
During the Candidates Forum on Sunday night, citizens gave a laundry list of concerns for the new Town Council to address, which ranged from fostering economic development to seeing the recreation path extended. The next Town Council will also be charged with addressing a potential deficit in Mt. Crested Butte’s finances, a base area expansion plan, and the development proposal for the North Village. With those big ticket items on the agenda, I urge votes for Clayton, Gitin and Keiser in Mt. Crested Butte on Tuesday, April 1.
Good luck to all the candidates,