Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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Meet the Candidates for Crested Butte Mayor and Crested Butte Town Council

Between now and the beginning of November, the Crested Butte News will be asking the candidates for Crested Butte mayor and town council questions related to issues in the community. We are requesting that the six candidates keep their answers to no more than 600 words. 

We are also asking readers to send us their suggestions for questions to ask in the newspaper. Send your suggestions to editorial@crestedbuttenews.com.

And do not forget that we will be hosting a Crested Butte News Candidate’s Forum on Sunday, October 18 at 6 p.m. at the CB Center for the Arts. We will give a couple minutes to those who wish to speak for (or against) the two proposed sales tax increase issues – the one funding the RTA and the other being put forth by the town council to address parks and recreation funding. Everyone is invited to come in person and ask questions of the candidates or the people representing the issues.

Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters starting October 13 and they must be returned by the official election day of November 3.

—Mark Reaman

Glenn Michel, mayoral candidate

Years in the valley: 18

Occupation: Self-employed carpenter

What motivated you to run for this position and what strengths can you bring to the role of mayor or councilmember?

I enjoy contributing to local politics and shaping the future of Crested Butte. My family and I have been fortunate to be able to live and work in the community and I believe it is important to give back to our town. After having served on the Town Council for four years and the BOZAR for five years—two as chairperson—I am ready to serve as mayor. My abilities to listen, find consensus, run effective meetings, and make good decisions based on solid reasoning are the skills that make me a strong candidate. Our town is ready for calm leadership based on trust and mutual respect—attributes that define my leadership style. In addition, I have a diverse knowledge base with bachelor’s degrees in economics, history, and politics and government. I serve on several boards and committees including the Mountain Express, Center for the Arts, the One Valley Prosperity Project, and the Big Mine Park master planning committee. Most important, I am engaged in the community. My wife, Gesa, and I both work and own our house in town, and are raising our two boys here. My experience, education, personal skills, and community engagement are strengths that I will bring to the position of mayor.

GlennMichel_October22015

Define your idea of “prosperity” for someone living in Crested Butte.

As an original member of the One Valley Prosperity Project I have been working on the definition since March with stakeholders from throughout the entire valley and we just released this definition: “Prosperity is the opportunity to provide for ourselves in a meaningful and fulfilling way. However, we can only be a prosperous community if we achieve the delicate balance between providing the need for economic opportunity with protecting our other community values—the very reason we live here.”

Favorite sport: Skate skiing on sunny days and telemark skiing on powder days.

Favorite athlete: Aqib Talib, cornerback for the Broncos.

Favorite month in Crested Butte: September, as long as it does not become too busy!

W.E. “Skip” Berkshire, mayoral candidate

Years in the valley: 17+

Occupation: Retired. I was in the Air Force for 21 years where I was involved with buying and operating large satellite systems. I retired and went to work for Lockheed Martin as a systems engineer. After 12 years with Lockheed, I retired (again) and moved to Crested Butte.

What motivated you to run for this position and what strengths can you bring to the role of mayor or councilmember?

There are many reasons why I am running for mayor. Here are three:

1. I would like to improve the Town Council process so that we don’t have meetings that go until 2 a.m. in the morning. There is also way too much drama—let the Mountain Theater handle the drama, they’re good at it.

SkipBerkshire_October22015

2. I would like to improve the council’s outreach to the community—we need to have more folks engaged in our important decisions.

3. I would like to ensure that we focus on keeping Crested Butte the unique, small town that it is. Let’s focus on preserving the quality of Crested Butte for the folks who live here. If we do that, people will come to visit because we are the real deal—not just another “me too” resort.

My service on the Town Council (2001-2009 and this last year) has given me great experience and knowledge in how the town works as well as understanding the key players and processes in the county and Mt. Crested Butte. I am open-minded and consensus driven—I do my homework. I work collaboratively. My service on the Crested Butte Nordic board (10+ years), the Land Trust board, and numerous other organizations has helped me understand the needs, values and people of our community.

Define your idea of “prosperity” for someone living in Crested Butte.

It’s not about money. It’s about a quality life; a life filled with promise, peace, security, health, family, friends, and opportunity. Just about everyone here in Crested Butte is here by choice. I’m sure that we share a lot of the same reasons that helped us choose Crested Butte. We love the community and the human scale of our small town. The recreational opportunities are unparalleled, and the soul enriching landscape nourishes our spirit. We have a world-class school, we’re kid friendly, we know our neighbors—we care for each other. We have fun and we are happy.

Favorite sport: I don’t have “a” favorite sport. In the winter I enjoy all forms of skiing—Tele, AT, Nordic (classic and skate), and an occasional snowshoe outing. Winter also affords the opportunity (sometimes) to dig a big snow cave in the backcountry and spend the night with friends decadently consuming wine and good food in a cozy white room. Skinning up Mt. Crested Butte during a full moon and skiing down in the moonlight after some hot chocolate and schnapps is also a favorite winter ritual. In the summer I enjoy mountain and road biking, hiking, climbing, backpacking, traveling and gardening (especially growing garlic and our own vegetables). I used to run trails a lot and would like to get back into running.

Favorite athlete:  Male: Pat O’Neil. Female: Tie—Stevie Kremer and Jari Kirkland

Favorite month in Crested Butte: September (we could use about 20-30 more days like our current ones). The beautiful fall colors, soft light and solitude are simply unbelievable.

Erika Vohman, council candidate

Years in the valley: 19

Occupation: Nonprofit founder and director, Maya Nut Institute; co-founder, owner, YawannaGO Camping Gear Rentals

What motivated you to run for this position and what strengths can you bring to the role of mayor or council member?

I am motivated to run for Town Council because I think we need some female voices on the Town Council. Women tend to have different viewpoints than men on some issues, and having an all-male council creates a scenario where women are underrepresented. I don’t purport to say I can speak for all the women in town, but having a seat on Town Council will create some diversity which is currently lacking.

My strengths come from my background in the nonprofit sector as founder and executive director of Maya Nut Institute, where the highest value is placed on qualities such as transparency, consensus, honesty and fairness. I have some professional credentials; I was a CNN Hero in 2010 and have won awards for my work with rural communities and the environment, including the St. Andrews Prize for the Environment, the E-Town E-Achievement Award and a UNEP Award for Best Community Forest Management project in Latin America. I have a lot of experience in consensus building and participatory processes with a wide variety of stakeholders via my work in Central America. These qualities and experiences will help me be a good councilperson.

ErikaVohman_October22015

I always try to be respectful of peoples’ time, and therefore tend to be concise and decisive in my discussion of controversial topics. I hope this will help keep meetings short. My background in biology and agronomy and my past 15 years of work in ecology, population biology and restoration have given me an immense appreciation for human impacts on natural systems and the importance of functional ecosystems for human quality of life. These are strengths I can bring to the council when we are making decisions that might impact our ecosystem, our economy and the future wellbeing of all species, including humans, both here in the valley and downstream.

My second business in town is a camping gear rental business, which I started, with my business partner Valerie Jaquith. One of our primary motivations with the business was to teach visitors how to camp using Leave-No-Trace principles because we were seeing a lot of abuse and overuse in the backcountry. I have learned a lot about the “camping demographic” here and how to teach Leave-No-Trace to campers, which is a strength that may prove useful in the coming years on Town Council.

Running two businesses in town helps me understand the weaknesses in the business economy in town and I hope that as a councilmember I can work to create a more favorable business environment that encourages small business growth and fosters economic diversity in the business sector.

Define your idea of “prosperity” for someone living in Crested Butte.

A prosperous Buttian has a home, a job and physical, emotional and financial health. They have at least some free time every week to enjoy our amazing place, and they have a job, hobby or volunteer opportunities that help them feel they are contributing to the prosperity of those less fortunate. 
Favorite sport:
Anything with my dog

Favorite athlete: Kurt Olson

Favorite month in Crested Butte: September

Aaron J. Huckstep, council candidate

Years in the valley: Almost 8

Occupation: Lawyer, current mayor

What motivated you to run for this position and what strengths can you bring to the role of mayor or councilmember?

My motivation is grounded in a desire to be a public servant. Public servants, especially here in Crested Butte, have the ability to make a positive difference in the community’s future. It is hard work (leadership is dangerous business), but it’s also very important work for the community at large. For me, one important motivation is to continue building and strengthening relationships throughout our valley—and thus building our capacity to collaborate and cooperate on intentionally creating the future we want. My strengths include experience (including four years as mayor), good judgment and a healthy dose of pragmatism. I also have a strong sense for action as opposed to words, and have the courage to approach issues from a new perspective.

Huck_October22015

Over the past four years, we have seen significant change in our community—some desired, some not so desired. As an individual, I have a very strong disposition for proactive, solution-oriented behavior. This means engaging with individuals in a very forward-focused manner, relentlessly believing that there is a means to achieve a desired outcome. And if the plans we make today prove to be problematic tomorrow, that’s okay—adaptation is a requirement in today’s world.

This is exactly why I am working on the working group focused on the upper East River Valley and summertime use. Our backcountry areas are second to none, but they won’t stay that way unless we act to create and protect the environment we want. This requires cooperative effort between the town, the USFS, RMBL, Gunnison County, CBMR and Mt. Crested Butte. Four years ago, this effort might have been perceived as an undertaking destined for failure. Today, it’s ripe for success. Projects like this prove why relationships throughout our valley are primary, above all else.

Define your idea of “prosperity” for someone living in Crested Butte.

I’m sure everyone has a little different definition of prosperity. For me, it’s this: the ability to safely pursue economic satisfaction and personal satisfaction in a place that inspires your passions, ultimately generating your own happiness. Underlying this definition is a presumption that your “place” (Crested Butte, for most of us) provides you with a greater-than-reasonable chance of success at succeeding in your pursuit. My desire to be on council, as opposed to continuing as mayor, is grounded in the need to make a living here—to create my own prosperity.

The One Valley Prosperity Project is concerned with addressing the latter part of my definition. Many economic indicators suggest that our community does not give most people a “greater than reasonable chance” at prosperity. Changing this, without simultaneously losing the quality of life we all have come to love, is the principal issue that must be addressed by the OVPP. People in our valley (and in many other places) fear that “economic development” of any sort will result in the loss of their quality of life—and that fear is a very powerful motivator. Figuring out what we can do to improve our situation, while protecting our quality of life, is a worthy and very challenging endeavor.

Favorite sport: Post-mountain biking beer-in-hand bocce in the desert.

Favorite athlete: Dan Loftus the morning after a long night out.

Favorite month in Crested Butte: May! It’s the only month (usually) when you can ski, bike and boat all in one day.

Laura Mitchell, council candidate

Years in the valley: 29

Occupation: Practitioner of ortho-bionomy and yoga teacher

What motivated you to run for this position and what strengths can you bring to the role of mayor or councilmember? 

I feel that I can bring a fresh and unique female perspective to the council. I am motivated to run because I think we need to make traffic safety in town and particularly 6th Street access a priority.

LauraMitchell_October22015

Define your idea of “prosperity” for someone living in Crested Butte.

To live an authentic life doing what you love at work and recreation.

Favorite sport: Skiing

Favorite athlete: Aaron Blunck

Favorite month in Crested Butte: August

Paul Merck, council candidate

Years in the Valley: 27 years

Occupation: Arborist

What motivated you to run for this position and what strengths can you bring to mayor or councilmember:

My motivational factors are that I have always been a volunteer in the community and enjoy a variety of experiences. My volunteer services in the community have included: EMS, Fire, Search and Rescue, Center for the Arts, Mallardi Theater, Heritage Museum, Arts district, and the Grand Traverse. At times I tend to sit at the Town Council meetings for the hot topics and now I am currently attending to learn more about the process. I believe it is my official time to serve the town and give back to the community as a council member.

PaulMerck_October22015

The strengths I feel I can bring to the community are vast. After high school while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mathematics I served six years in the Army National Guard as an engineering officer. I also worked with mentally challenged adults and at risk youth in a residential facility as a vocational director and a certified teacher. I spent five summers in Alaska in a remote Brown Bear lodge viewing and arranging guided trips and in the winter worked for CBMR as a ski patrol and ski school instructor. I have lived and volunteered abroad in New Zealand, Australia, and Costa Rica. I have served on boards including the theater board in Crested Butte and worked with the charter school on Oahu North Shore. Being self-employed, motivated, and owning two businesses in Crested Butte allows me the freedom to attend various forums and gives me the time to dedicate to the people of Crested Butte. My broad knowledge and flexible schedule will enhance serving on the council to deal with town issues.

Define your idea of “prosperity” for someone living in Crested Butte.

Prosperity for me is happiness, safety, and health. Living in Crested Butte requires work, however; I have strived to set up a life to spend time with my beautiful wife Lisa and wonderful children Joshua and Samantha. A work life balance is key to living here and enjoying the amazing surroundings and activities. Crested Butte has always felt safe to me because we are a family and all look out for each other’s wellbeing. Living here allows us all to have a healthy lifestyle and I feel it is my turn to share and continue in our town’s growth and keep the prosperity we can all enjoy.

Favorite Sport: Telemark skiing

Favorite athlete: My kids

Favorite month in Crested Butte: September

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