Ireland re-elected as Aspen mayor
ASPEN, Colorado ” Incumbent Mayor Mick Ireland has won another two-year term on the Aspen City Council but his closest challenger, Marilyn Marks, wasn’t conceding.
Tuesday’s election results show Ireland brought in 1,273 votes in the fourth round of the instant runoff and Marks garnered 1,136.
But Marks’ poll watcher, Jim Perry, has formally challenged the absentee ballots from 800 or so people who walked into the city clerk’s office between April 20 and May 1 and cast their votes. Perry claims they were not properly handled according to state statute.
Marks also is relying on picking up votes in the 168 spoiled ballots, which a citizen-appointed election commission may take under review. The commission has the authority to interpret the voter’s intent if the ballot shows questionable marks.
“It’s not over,” Marks said shortly after the results were tallied and shown on television screens in City Council chambers late Tuesday night. “I think we haven’t heard the final results.”
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Candidates Andrew Kole and LJ Erspamer were defeated in the second and third rounds of the runoff, respectively.
Ireland reserved claiming victory before the runoff but he had a good suspicion that Marks wouldn’t be able to pick up enough votes to win. But when the results were posted, Ireland and his supporters breathed a sigh of relief over what was a close race.
“I never take anything for granted, never,” Ireland said before the runoff, adding Erspamer’s popularity prevented him from getting the required 50-plus-one majority vote in the first round.
Ireland interprets the results as a mandate to continue fighting for what Aspenites believe is important.
“I think the voters clearly want to stay with managing growth, not slowing it, creating affordable housing, protecting the environment and building an economy that’s stable …,” he said.
Ireland said he thinks he could have gotten more votes but many people who could have voted didn’t.
“A lot of my constituents are probably not in town because of the economy,” he said, noting that he observed many empty units in affordable housing developments when he was campaigning.
Marks said she wasn’t surprised by the close margin.
“I felt like there was a huge voice for change,” she said, adding she thinks she could have clinched Aspen’s highest elected office if she had started her campaign earlier. “I wish I had started a couple of months ago. I filed one day before the deadline.”
Marks also said if Aspen had held a runoff election in June rather that Tuesday’s instant runoff, she’s confident she would have gotten the majority vote.
“I think if we had another month we would have different results,” she said.
If Perry’s challenge is disregarded or proves to have no merit, Marks said she will remain involved in civic activities and will continue to question policies and decisions that come out of City Hall.
“I will continue to be an advocate for change, for transparency, for accountability, fiscal responsibility and actually, with perhaps a more organized group of people to make sure that City Council hears us,” she said.