Crested Butte town council race attracts ten candidates

The young, the old, those new to town and natives…

We have a race for Crested Butte Town Council. Nine people are vying for four open seats on the council, while Leah Williams is running unopposed for mayor.



Those running for council include Guy Ciulla, Jay Harris, Don Haver, Brian Kilkelly, Roland Mason, Jim Schmidt, Erika Vohman, Phoebe Wilson and John Wirsing.
“I’m excited to be running for mayor,” said Williams. “And even though I am running unopposed I think there’s a responsibility on my part to let the community know more about me. I’m more of a process person than an issues person. It’s important for citizens to give their views and the town needs to be a player in whatever is happening in the valley.”
Williams and her husband bought property in Crested Butte in 1993 and moved here in about 2000. She is retired.
On the council side, Roland Mason was born in Gunnison and raised in Crested Butte. “I feel like it is time for me to step up and get involved in the town I grew up in,” he said. “As a contractor, I unfortunately have more free time now than I’ve had in the past and I want to be a part in shaping the decisions that can put the town back in a direction of becoming more prosperous.”
Jim Schmidt wasn’t born in Crested Butte but he has lived in the town 33 years and served 19 of those years as either a councilmember or mayor. “I feel I can add something to the council in the way of institutional knowledge,” he said. “I have been accused of being a ‘radical centrist’ and that is a title I have some pride in. I think I can add a balanced view to the town. As Robert Palmer might say, ‘I’m addicted to gov.’” Schmidt has held many jobs in Crested Butte and currently works as an Alpine Express bus driver. He lives in the town’s affordable housing “Poverty Gulch” development.
Business owner Phoebe Wilson has been in Crested Butte about four years. She and her husband own the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin. “We plan on staying in the community a long time,” she said. “I want to be a part of the council as the town changes. With everything we went through to open the business, we have experienced the process and I would like to be part of the process now.”
John Wirsing is self-employed in the construction business, moved here 12 years ago and lives in one of the town’s affordable deed-restricted homes. “I have a family and make my living here,” he said. “I felt it was time for me to give something back to the community. I don’t want to see this place become an Aspen or a Telluride, but I see the value of some growth to sustain our town. Gradual growth helps to keep the local people working here and employed. If growth is too fast, all it does is bring in people from out of town to fill the jobs and things can get out of balance. I want to see the best possible future for my family.”
Don Haver moved here in 2002 and is retired. He ran for mayor six years ago and now, like then, he wants to focus on the town developing a long-term vision. “We have no one direction to help guide decisions,” he said. “I have friends and friends of my kids who have had to move from here because they can’t find a job. Sales tax pays for the services provided by the town and so I think we have to do what we can to make local businesses successful. I want to live here a long time and not see the town lose good people or the services we have grown to expect.”
Jay Harris is the former owner of Izzy’s and has been here since 1995. “I’m a cook and I want to be able to give a voice to the restaurants and businesses in Crested Butte,” he said. “I think there are situations where decisions can be made on individual cases as opposed to applying a broad application to every case. We’re a small enough town where we should be able to look at things on a case-by-case basis.”
Guy Ciulla has been in Crested Butte about five years. He works as a waiter, bartender and yoga teacher. “This town and this community has taught me a lot and given me a lot,” he said. “So I’m looking to give something back.”
Brian Kilkelly also has a couple of jobs. He works for Alpine Express and at the Steep. He’s been in the valley five years and in Crested Butte just over a year. “I’d have to say I’m running because it seemed like not a lot of people had an interest and I felt I had some new ideas and perspectives that I could bring to the council,” he said.
Candidate Erika Vohman didn’t return phone calls or emails for this story.
The Crested Butte News will provide an opportunity for all of the candidates to explain their positions on issues as we move into election season. Also, pencil in Sunday, October 18 for the Crested Butte News public candidate’s forum to be held at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts. Let the fun begin.

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