Meet the candidates for Crested Butte mayor and Crested Butte town council

As one of the candidates stated to me after receiving this week’s questions, “Wow, I can’t wait to go home and pick that scab. Thanks.”
That sentiment wasn’t directed at the pizza topping question and it isn’t wrong. But like it or not, the ski area and its future through expansion (or contraction) of people and/or terrain will play a role that impacts the upper end of the valley for many years. Even if, as some contend, we are turning into more of a summer resort with a ski area, the health of the ski area affects us all. So, here ya go. Remember, ballots must be returned to the county by November 5.

—Mark Reaman

Aaron Huckstep
mayoral candidate

Let’s touch on the ski resort. Should the council support Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s efforts for growth? Would you have voted to support allowing the Snodgrass proposal into NEPA? Do you support the Teo-2 expansion idea?
Yes. Any candidate who is seriously interested in the economic health of our community must be committed to collaborating with the largest employer in the upper valley. I have demonstrated this commitment over the past two years. This summer, CBMR employed 300 of our citizens. This winter, CBMR will employ 1,000 of our citizens. These employees spend their wages at our local businesses. If CBMR is healthy, we all benefit.
Last year, the Council supported CBMR’s efforts for growth by helping to fund the RTA’s revenue guarantee for the winter flight from Houston. Every passenger arriving on a flight in winter is estimated to spend $1,300 on their trip – dollars that are spent throughout our community, not just at CBMR.
Under my leadership, we have made substantial strides to rebuild the relationship between Mt. Crested Butte, CBMR and the Town. In my experience, the Snodgrass issue represents an old wound that isn’t forgotten. Our valley will succeed by focusing on the future, not the past. While we can learn from the past, we should not revisit decisions that were made long ago after extensive public input on the topic. Please join me in moving this community beyond Snodgrass.
I support the Teo-2 expansion idea. It addresses prior concerns by focusing expansion on the existing mountain. CBMR’s proposed design—which keeps the bottom lift terminal above the valley floor—represents an effort to proactively address community concerns. In addition, the Teo-2 drainage allows for extensive trail development into the future.
 
And from a local citizen: How can the council help keep Crested Butte funky?
The Council can and should help keep Crested Butte funky. We have a special community known for quirky events, people and culture. Everyone—not just Council—should strive to protect this special nature of our community. The Council can help by resisting change in the iconic events that add to the funk—the Chainless and Vinotok are examples. Council must make sure these events are safe for neighbors, participants and spectators, too. In my experience, this isn’t hard—it just takes a commitment to developing solutions together.
Individually, Council members can lead by example by getting involved. In 2009, the Chainless almost met an untimely end because of permitting issues (ask Lucha Libre—he has the story). In 2010, I led a group of volunteers committed to making sure this iconic event didn’t become a part of our history. Building from that experience, I organized Elk Mountain Events with a fundamental goal of protecting iconic events that make us funky. EME has supported the Al Johnson and the Crested Butte Classic, two events that add to Crested Butte’s funk.

What do you put on your pizza? Jalapenos.

Dog or cat? Cat.

Favorite (or most used) footwear in your closet: Flip flops.

 

 

Jeremy Rubingh
mayoral candidate

Let’s touch on the ski resort. Should the council support Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s efforts for growth? Would you have voted to support allowing the Snodgrass proposal into NEPA? Do you support the Teo-2 expansion idea?
CBMR’s efforts for growth:
Absolutely we should support a healthy and prosperous ski area. A successful ski area is an essential component to the future of our local economy and we need to support meaningful growth.

We should focus first on assisting CBMR getting more visitors to the valley. This includes working in a purposeful way for reliable and consistent air service.

This means also getting more Denver flights here. DIA is rated as the fifth busiest airport in the United States and thirteenth in the world. We should make the investment and not just ignore this massive market (also good for other aspects or our economy).
We should also ensure that our Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association dollars are being spent in a way that reflects our end of the valley and that works for our local businesses, especially CBMR.
If CBMR feels that expansion is essential for its success above other potential improvements then the town should work with CBMR to ensure that its proposals meet the needs of the ski area while fitting with the town’s area plan and conservation policies.

Snodgrass proposal into NEPA:
I think it is important to focus on issues that connect and unite us as a community rather than past divisive ones. This issue certainly divided and polarized a lot of folks.
Good leadership would recognize this obvious split in the community. That is why I would have advocated for the council to not take a position of support and to continue to encourage healthy public dialogue.
As the U.S. Forest Service was the deciding body in this case, I think it would have been appropriate for the council to simply comment that there had been a lot of input from both sides of the issue.

Teo II expansion idea:
I was fortunate last winter to ski this zone with some CBMR representatives and get a firsthand look at the area, which has a lot of potential for ski terrain, whether as a backcountry use area or as developed runs. It has a lot of great wildlife qualities as well (we saw fresh big cat prints on our ski tour!).

Being adjacent to existing developed terrain high on Crested Butte Mountain, Teo II presents fewer development related concerns than what came up for folks with Snodgrass, though I have heard some initial concerns from hunters that use the area.
I believe that Teo II could be done right and become an excellent amenity for CBMR while conserving the ecological and view-shed values of the Brush Creek valley.

And from a local citizen: How can the council help keep Crested Butte funky?
Keep locals here!
Support a good mix of different types of affordable housing to preserve our character. As a town we provide low rent or no rent places to groups like the Nordic Council and KBUT, which were local initiatives that have helped make our community what it is today.
We need to continue to look for those opportunities to support creations by local people to keep our culture vibrant and unique.

What do you put on your pizza? Anything.

Dog or cat? My Golden, Sophie.

Favorite (or most used) footwear in your closet: Tele boots.

 

 

Chris Ladoulis
Council candidate

Let’s touch on the ski resort. Should the council support Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s efforts for growth? Would you have voted to support allowing the Snodgrass proposal into NEPA? Do you support the Teo-2 expansion idea?
Should the council support CBMR’s efforts for growth? The Town Council should support the efforts of any local businesses to remain successful, stay competitive and hire local employees—and that includes CBMR as our largest local employer. If there are aspects of a proposal that require public consent or conflict with the public interest, then the council should specify under what condition(s) it could be supported. We should not be armchair quarterbacks and tell them how to operate; nor should we be naive and assume any proposal is better than none. But the town can and does play a role in encouraging or promoting economic initiatives, including events and business expansion. When we engage in a cooperative dialogue, we can influence how the proposal is shaped, negotiating a more desirable outcome for the town.

Would you have voted to support allowing the Snodgrass proposal into NEPA? Probably. The Snodgrass debate in 2008-2009 polarized the community and was considered by many a referendum on growth vs. the environment. There were certainly questions about how strongly the community supported the proposed expansion, and there were valid concerns over how such development would impact the surrounding land. The town council’s letter of non-support in 2008 may have contributed to the Forest Service’s pre-NEPA conclusion that the proposed expansion was “not in the public’s interest.” Later town council discussions in 2009 suggested the 2008 letter may have been a premature or possibly inaccurate reflection of community support. With that doubt, I would have preferred seeing the proposal move into a formal NEPA process.

Do you support the Teo-2 expansion idea? Yes. The Teo-2 expansion idea seems to have broader local appeal, since it expands terrain within the existing ski area boundary and leverages the current base area infrastructure. If CBMR can successfully recapture some of their winter visitors and extend their average length of stay, the town of Crested Butte would see economic benefits during the slower, winter months. The town council should be supportive and work from the paradigm: yes, this sounds good, so how can we help to make this work?

And from a local citizen: How can the council help keep Crested Butte funky?
By not taking ourselves too seriously. The rest will take care of itself.

What do you put on your pizza? Arugula!

Dog or cat? Yes! Our dog’s name is Django.

Favorite (or most used) footwear in your closet: Keen slip-ons from Paradox.

 

 

Roland Mason
council candidate

Let’s touch on the ski resort. Should the council support Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s efforts for growth? Would you have voted to support allowing the Snodgrass proposal into NEPA? Do you support the Teo-2 expansion idea?
The Council should support CBMR’s efforts for growth. However, we should strive to ensure those efforts align with our values and they benefit the citizens of our community. A great example is the public/private partnership between CBMR and the RTA. Together we work to bring economic growth via airline subsidies to the Gunnison Valley.

The Town Council decided to remain neutral on the Snodgrass issue and I agree with that stance. It was ultimately a Forest Service decision on whether or not it would continue into NEPA. Looking forward, I do support the Teo2 expansion idea. My charge on Council is to make decisions that help our community thrive while keeping our unique atmosphere alive. I feel Teo2 will benefit our tourist economy as well as give the locals another reason to buy a season pass. One question I heard a lot during the Snodgrass debate was “why expand onto a new mountain when the main mountain (including the facilities) needed major upgrades?” I believe CBMR answered that question by making yearly improvements around the mountain, and presenting a project that utilizes the area on Crested Butte Mountain.

And from a local citizen: How can the council help keep Crested Butte funky?
Funky means something a little different to each individual. For me it means not pricing out the locals by providing affordable housing, supporting the winter and summer special events (almost every event requires a costume!), and being tolerant of those that dress, look, act, and play a little differently than I do. I enjoy the “characters” in this town (you know who you are!) and I embrace the freedom this community gives people to be who they want to be.

What do you put on your pizza? I am a Canadian bacon and pineapple kind of guy.

Dog or cat? We currently have two young daughters, so at this time we have no furry creatures in the house.

Favorite (or most used) footwear in your closet: Favorite footwear: my ski boots and my snowboard boots. Unfortunately the most used footwear in my closet are my work boots.

 

 

 

Danica Ramgoolam
council candidate

Let’s touch on the ski resort. Should the council support Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s efforts for growth? Would you have voted to support allowing the Snodgrass proposal into NEPA? Do you support the Teo-2 expansion idea?
As a business owner I know that we need CBMR in order for us to stay in business so I encourage them to try out new ideas and would support them in some expansion of the existing ski area. As far as the Snodgrass question, I think this is a moot point at this time since the forest service did not approve their NEPA proposal. I also want to say how deeply sad the whole debate in town made me at the time. As a native I have seen all of the fighting about this issue and for the most part when I was a kid the discussion was civil. The fight (yes, I’m calling it a fight) did so much to divide the town and I worry that we will never recover our family-like community. As a councilperson I will work to focus on issues that bring this community together and move on from issues that are already resolved.
The Teo-2 expansion is an interesting idea and I would have to look into it more in order to form an opinion. I would like to see CBMR look into some backcountry options. I know that a lot of ski areas have backcountry gates or guided backcountry and I think this would be a great option.

And from a local citizen: How can the council help keep Crested Butte funky?
First let’s examine what makes Crested Butte funky. From growing up here, Crested Butte is funky because of fun costumed events, Alley Loop, Vinotok, Soul Train, Red Lady Ball, Flauschink, Al Johnson and many more spontaneous gatherings! Also the historic sheds, houses and stone buildings. So many resort communities now have a very fake feeling to them. Their houses and main street buildings look the same as ours on the surface but they are a fake version of it, we are the original. Crested Butte has funky little businesses that aren’t plastic and franchise. We support our friends who have a small funky Nepali restaurant. We don’t have a McDonald’s! The people make it funky. There are characters in this town that might not be accepted in other communities. We embrace people who don’t fit into the mold of society.
As a councilperson I think I can keep Crested Butte funky by seriously considering how certain development will affect the character of town. The council can approve and encourage the funky special events. When looking at new construction or remodels the council can consider how it will affect the look of our streets. I think keeping Crested Butte funky is also just a lens a council member can use to view any issue and I am dedicated to the funky character of my hometown.

What do you put on your pizza? Fig and prosciutto.

Dog or cat? Dog.

Favorite (or most used) footwear in your closet: Keen hiking boots.

 

 

 

 

Jim Schmidt
council candidate

Let’s touch on the ski resort. Should the council support Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s efforts for growth? Would you have voted to support allowing the Snodgrass proposal into NEPA? Do you support the Teo-2 expansion idea?
I am on record for supporting the Snodgrass proposal going to the NEPA process. That was the most divisive issue that has hit the town council or the valley for that matter in all the years that I’ve served on council. Many people were waiting for the Forest Service to open hearings and felt short-changed when they didn’t. The decision has been made and the most important thing is for all involved to move on. I have watched council members in the past try to sabotage various different things in the past after they were on the minority in a vote much like the present national situation with Obamacare. It doesn’t serve the community. I support the Teo-2 expansion plan. The ski area has expanded several times during my years in Crested Butte and I feel we need to support them in this plan.
Whether we like it or not, ski areas need to offer something new every year or two to keep skier days flat or to increase skier days. Just as it was very difficult to make a living in Crested Butte when winters were much stronger than summers as was the case in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the balance has swung to the summers and we need winters to step up. There will always be critics of the biggest business in town whether it’s how they run the mountain or what this year’s advertising slogan is. It’s hard to separate constructive criticism from people just throwing up everything to see what sticks.

The council has supported the ski area’s efforts to grow in the air program which I feel will continue to be more problematic in the future and by pushing the TA to develop more winter advertising. To say you support the ski area is not to give a carte blanche okay of everything but to say you support economic growth and disagree with any plan offered up is not the way to go either.

And from a local citizen: How can the council help keep Crested Butte funky?
Funky is in the eye of the beholder and the funky has morphed in many wonderful and wild ways since I’ve been in town. Some years ago a councilman I met from Basalt thought it was important to allow a citizen to keep their old car up on blocks in the front yard to keep up the funk. I don’t agree with that, but the council needs to support celebrations like Vinotok and Mardi Gras as we have in the past. The council needs to keep an open mind to new and strange ideas and give them a chance. I might be a bit older than the others who are running but I still think I’m a kid. I just don’t party as hard as I used to.

What do you put on your pizza? Carnivore’s delight, Italian sausage and pepperoni.

Dog or cat? Dog. Crested Butte is great because though I don’t have a dog myself, I can just sit on my porch and someone will come by with theirs and I’ll get my dog fix.

Favorite (or most used) footwear in your closet: Snow sneaks.

 

 

 

Josh Schumacher
council candidate

Let’s touch on the ski resort. Should the council support Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s efforts for growth? Would you have voted to support allowing the Snodgrass proposal into NEPA? Do you support the Teo-2 expansion idea?
Entering into the NEPA process does not guarantee that a development will be approved. The NEPA process is designed by the Forest Service to be an environmental review of a development plan that includes public input. So, yes I would have voted for the NEPA process.
With that being said, I also agreed with the many people in this community who felt that improvements should be made to our existing mountain and infrastructure before looking to expand it. Since the Muellers have taken over CBMR they have done a good job of working within their current boundaries and improving upon its current footprint. The on-mountain growth can be seen in: the lifts that have been upgraded, the improvements to their on mountain facilities, the glading that has been done to improve upon the existing winter trail system, the gradual upgrade to their snowmaking system, and the building of a very impressive summer trail system. I have had a chance to look over CBMR’s newest master development plan and it includes even more growth within these existing areas. I think that this is great.

In this newest version of CBMR’s master development plan they do call for an expansion of its boundaries in what they are calling the Teocalli drainage. This Teo-2 expansion will add over 80 acres of developed terrain and over 200 acres of gladed and off-piste skiing. According to the maps I have seen, and the information that I have read, this new area offers intermediate as well as advanced level terrain. Although I have not been back there personally, I have talked with several people that have. These conversations have included members from both inside CBMR and those that have been taken on the tour. The responses that I have heard have all been positive. Based on the information that I have obtained I think that this expansion could potentially be a good idea as it gains acreage suitable for skiers of varying abilities with only a slight change to our existing boundaries.

And from a local citizen: How can the council help keep Crested Butte funky?
We have events such as Vinotok, Flauschink, the Chainless, Big Air on Elk, the Al Johnson, and many more. I’ve even heard of a race that starts at the peak of the mountain and the competitors ski to the finish at a bar in town, or another one that involves skateboards, guns, and digging a grave? Does Crested Butte really need help staying funky? I don’t think so! But as a council member I think we can support the growth of events like these and even encourage the creation of new ones.

What do you put on your pizza? Lots of meat.

Dog or cat? Dog.

Favorite (or most used) footwear in your closet: My Red Wing work boots. These have been through many years on the job, probably 15 to 20,000 miles on a motorcycle, and resoled once and are still comfortable and going strong. 

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