Meet the candIdates for the Crested Butte Town Council

The election is drawing near. Ballots will begin going out next week. They must be mailed or returned to the county by November 1. The Crested Butte News Candidate’s Forum will be held Thursday, October 20 starting at 6:30 p.m at the Center for the Arts. If you have a question for the candidates, send it to editorial@crestedbuttenews.com.
—Mark Reaman

Aaron “Huck” Huckstep
Q: Part of being an elected official involves dealing with conflict and opposing viewpoints over sometimes contentious and emotional issues (i.e., Snodgrass, fireworks, MMJ, etc.). As a town representative, how would you handle contentious situations and different points of view? What skills do you think you have for such situations?
One major reason why I chose to run for Mayor was to change what I see as a disconnect between Town, Mt. Crested Butte and CBMR arising from issues such as fireworks and Snodgrass. The USA Pro Cycling Challenge served as a perfect jumping-off point to develop positive relationships with community leaders up and down the valley that can serve as a foundation for my tenure as Mayor. When dealing with contentious issues, I plan to communicate early and often with those same community leaders to understand their varying points of view. Those communications will be marked by an open mind and mutual respect, along with a clear statement of the Town’s position and intentions. If we cannot find a reasonable solution to the issue, then I will promote making lemonade out of the lemons. As a lawyer, I am no stranger to contentious issues or differing points of view. While a number of skills help in these situations, the most important is the right attitude: we have to be focused on finding common ground, and on taking a creative approach to problem-solving. I have demonstrated this skill in many ways, including my work with the Town Marshals and the County to make the 2010 Chainless a safer (and thus sustainable) event. My ability to analyze issues from all points of view is another critical skill in handling these situations. Finally, I have the courage to take action, and refuse to get stuck in “analysis paralysis.” I look forward to putting these skills to work for the Town of Crested Butte as your Mayor.
 
Q: And from a local voter: Do you consider yourself a “green” (environmentally friendly) candidate? Why or why not?
Yes. When I was living in New Mexico, I had the opportunity to own and live in a completely off-the-grid house. That was a great experience in learning how solar power systems work, and in the challenges of replacing those systems (financial and otherwise). Living in Crested Butte, I enjoy using the bike to get around Town year-round. I’m a big proponent of small, practical solutions for individuals and businesses, such as ORE’s Energy Smart program. This helps people understand how to make “living green” a way of life, rather than a soundbite.
 
Q: Dog or cat?
I “inherited” a white cat this summer named Monkey.
 
Q: Name a website you visit regularly.
drudgereport.com

 

David K. Owen
Q: Part of being an elected official involves dealing with conflict and opposing viewpoints over sometimes contentious and emotional issues (i.e., Snodgrass, fireworks, MMJ, etc.). As a town representative, how would you handle contentious situations and different points of view? What skills do you think you have for such situations?
Being on the County Planning Commission for the past five years (almost six now), I have seen my fair share of contentious issues that brought out rooms full of people on many emotional issues from mining proposals to oil and gas operations to land use changes. I have also seen both effective and ineffective ways of dealing with those situations. It is important to remember as a Planning Commissioner or as a member of Town Council that we are representatives of the public engaged in a civic duty. Civic, civil, civility. There is a simple reason that these words all have the same common root. We live together in a small community, and we govern ourselves in what can be a rather messy representative democracy. It is always important to respect people and other points of view. While I will not agree with everybody, I will listen and respect all points of view. At Planning Commission I have seen tense situations deflated by the use of civility. If the board sets the right tone, the audience will respond to that and civility will triumph; being petty or dismissive is not productive. It is critical that all members of the Town Council show respect to all differing viewpoints whether we agree with them or not, and that is what I will do on your Town Council.

Q: And from a local voter: Do you consider yourself a “green” (environmentally friendly) candidate? Why or why not?
I do consider myself to be a “green” candidate. In some respects the Town has done a great job in recent years “greening” itself with the electric vehicles, hybrid cars for staff, even watering most of our parks with non-potable or untreated water. However, there are Town policies that are aggressively anti-environmental. There is more that the Town can do specifically concerning the dichotomy between historic preservation and environmental stewardship. Owning and having lived in a contributing historic house in the District for over ten years, I have an intimate knowledge of this struggle for balance. Quite frankly, I believe that there is too much emphasis on historic preservation at the expense of being ecologically sound. We cannot ignore the fact that we live at 9,000 feet in a very cold environment. That fact alone generates a significant carbon footprint from all of us. I believe that the Town needs to be more “green” in meaningful ways. We need to find a balance between environmental stewardship, being a destination resort that caters to visitors who don’t live in snow and ice environments, public safety, and historic preservation. It is important to safeguard our historic district, but not at the expense of common sense solutions that improve our energy efficiency. In my mind, we have not yet found the right balance. As a Town Council member, I will investigate the reasons for this imbalance and attempt to correct it.
(Mr. Owen complete answer is available in the "Online Extra" section of this website.)

Q: Dog or cat?
My cat Esperanza died 17 months ago, at the ripe old age of 18 (she adopted me right before I moved to Crested Butte). No cat has adopted me since.

Q: Name a website you visit regularly.

https://www.facebook.com/daveincb

 

Shaun Matusewicz
Q: Part of being an elected official involves dealing with conflict and opposing viewpoints over sometimes contentious and emotional issues (i.e., Snodgrass, fireworks, MMJ, etc.). As a town representative, how would you handle contentious situations and different points of view? What skills do you think you have for such situations?
I have found what most people want, even more than agreement, is understanding. Truly being able to understand someone’s point of view is essential to good governing and a skill I have worked hard to hone in my professional career.
Many times over the years I have sat across the table from two people, each proposing different solutions to a project, solutions that represent their livelihood. Nothing becomes more contentious and no one fights harder than when they feel their livelihood is at stake. I learned from these situations and always keep the following points in mind when dealing with heated circumstances:
• If you disagree, do so without being disagreeable
• Cooperation is a way of traveling, not a destination
• Work together or what you are working on doesn’t work at all
• All outcomes should promote the greater welfare
Emerson said a large part of courage is having been there before, and I agree. Through my previous experience I have gained the courage and understanding to navigate contentious issues and know I can do a good job of this for the town.

Q: Do you consider yourself a “green” (environmentally friendly) candidate? Why or why not?
Absolutely. You can see my commitment to the environment both in philosophy and in action. On the small scale my campaign flyers were printed 100 percent locally with 100 percent recycled paper. These types of everyday choices can have a large impact in the long run.
On a larger scale I have been working with Jim Schmidt behind the scenes to explore solar options for Crested Butte. Whether it is a large solar array outside of town or contracting solar panel leasing to allow Crested Butte families a zero-cost entry into solar, there is a lot we can do. These are efforts I will continue regardless of the outcome of the election because I truly care about Crested Butte and our town’s health.

Q: Dog or cat?
Dog. A beautiful mix named Cole.

Q: Name a website you visit regularly.
NPR.org 

 

Glenn Michel
Q: Part of being an elected official involves dealing with conflict and opposing viewpoints over sometimes contentious and emotional issues (i.e., Snodgrass, fireworks, MMJ, etc). As a town representative, how would you handle contentious situations and different points of view? What skills do you think you have for such situations?
One of the greatest assets of American democracy is our system of checks and balances. This system creates a tension in government that in many cases brings out deep passions in people. On one hand it can be a very effective tool that enables us to engage in productive and robust debates; on the other hand it can divide us, creating resentment and inaction. The Council must maintain a professional demeanor and respect all thoughts presented, even when they challenge our own understandings. I find this very important because at one point or another each and every one of us will be in the minority, and it is the order and due process of the Council that insures all members of our community have a chance to present their argument—in a fair and just atmosphere. If I am elected to represent the people of the Town of Crested Butte I will draw upon my five years of experience interacting with the public, Board members, and staff while serving on the BOZAR, which as most of you know can be contentious at times. Having served as the Chairman for part of that time I have developed the ability to focus my thoughts and the ability to keep the meeting moving along. I have also challenged myself by going back to college to get a third degree and engaged fellow students and professors in rich and rewarding discussions, sometimes learning that I have only begun my journey of understanding. Our involvement in civil activity benefits us the most when we are tolerant of each other, listen effectively, and contribute to the best of our abilities. These are the skills I will bring to the Town Council.

Q: And from a local voter: Do you consider yourself a “green” (environmentally friendly) candidate? Why or why not?
My first interaction with our local government was when my wife and I were designing our new house and had the desire to incorporate both solar hot water and solar electric into our design. At that time solar arrays of any kind were not supported by the Board of Zoning and Architecture Review. We had the chance to present our ideas to the Town Council and ultimately won approval. Now Crested Butte has many great examples of how solar can be effectively used within town.
Currently I am working with a crew rehabilitating the historic Richard’s Cabin located in Gothic Town Site for the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. It is argued in historic preservation that “the greenest building is one that already exists.” It has been a great joy to rediscover the value and energy that exists in this old cabin.
Both of these examples demonstrate actions I have undertaken that will hopefully make the natural world around us a better place for us all and to reduce my personal impact.

Q: Dog or cat?
Our family adopted an Alaskan malamute—her name is Lucy.

Q: Name a website you visit regularly.
Denverpost.com. I like to read the e-edition daily.

 

Kevin McGruther
Q: Part of being an elected official involves dealing with conflict and opposing viewpoints over sometimes contentious and emotional issues (i.e., Snodgrass, fireworks, MMJ, etc). As a town representative, how would you handle contentious situations and different points of view? What skills do you think you have for such situations?
The scientific method is the best way to deal with uncertain issues and decision making. For example, last week the jokers at the CB News decided to alter my responses to these candidate questions without my permission or appropriate editorial notice to the readers. I could have become emotional about it but instead I scientifically inquired around the community and it turns out that an amazing number of locals don’t read the CB News and many that do haven’t agreed with the editorial direction for quite some time. Further, when I informed people about the nature of the editorial change everybody agreed that it was distasteful and draws into doubt the integrity and journalistic ethics of the entire CB News operation (i.e. If they alter this information what else are they misrepresenting?). This is a great example of a case where scientifically acquiring a more broad source of information from multiple community sources can help to alleviate a narrow point of view and reduce emotional reaction.
The best part of living in a small community like Crested Butte is that we can all spend a lot of face time examining informational issues and trying to devise a healthy way to proceed as a town without questionable information sources or business agendas ignorantly trying to stir people up against each other. As a scientific individual and as a candidate for town council I remain open to being accessible and accessing large swathes of the community and receptive to new or more informed points of view. Issues of political legislation are too important to allow to become mired by emotional reaction or ignorance. That is, of course, unless aggressive greed and ignorance are allowed to trump good science and decision making skills in which case more humble research and introspection is necessary.

Q: And from a local voter: Do you consider yourself a “green” (environmentally friendly) candidate? Why or why not?
The “Pack it in—Pack it out” philosophy has been a major lifestyle inspiration to me. I have spent a lot of time traveling and observing our country and the world. I observe that a tremendous amount of our surroundings have been ignorantly despoiled and that there are few remaining reserves of untainted planet for humans to experience. As we have only one planet that any of us will ever know it does not make sense to make it more poisonous over all by our conscious actions. This planet is hardly perfect and neither am I but we are here. I find the only sensible path to existence to be one of continual refinement of the knowledge of our surroundings and attempting to work in a more harmonious and constructive fashion within it. Whether this is being green or just being sensible is open to discussion.

Q: Dog or cat?
Marmot.

Q: Name a website you visit regularly
www.NourishedKitchen.com

Ed reply: Kevin is correct. A “joker” at the Crested Butte News added a reference to Kevin’s Facebook page to the answer he sent us. The addition was meant to stay in-house but slipped through to the printed page. While Kevin says he didn’t become emotional over the incident, I did, as anyone within 200 yards of the office could attest as they heard me in a rare moment of loud displeasure.
It is not our policy or practice to add to or subtract from people’s answers. We want the words of candidates for public office to speak for themselves. When I read the altered answer last week, I interpreted it as him directing people to his Facebook page for further clarification. I was wrong. The News in this case was wrong and I apologize. But thank goodness an amazing number of locals will not read this embarrassing apology.

—Mark Reaman

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