If perseverance had a face, it would look like Aspen’s newest mayor, Torre. He campaigned for the city’s top political job six times and five times came up short. “I first ran 18 years ago, when the straight shot was the issue,” he says as we sit on the patio at Victoria’s on a spring afternoon. “I got 117 votes and Helen Klanderud beat Rachel Richards.”
He came closer three elections ago but lost to Steve Skadron by 87 votes in 2013. This year, April 2, the voters finally said it was Torre’s turn to serve—he won a runoff election over councilwoman Ann Mullins.
Sit with the tennis instructor who grew up in Florida but has lived in Aspen for the last 25 years and you’ll hear not only his enthusiasm for the community but also the community’s enthusiasm over his victory. Spontaneous cries of “Good luck, Torre,” “Congratulations!” and “I voted for you!” erupt as we sit on that afternoon. This is unusual in a town known for being contentious about its politicians.
Torre takes office in June and will immediately begin work focused on creating a more organized and cohesive structure for council and City Hall (“The city has 20-plus different departments now in a town with just around 7,000 residents”); housing (“I heard strongly during the campaign that this is the most important issue for many”); and environmental commitment (“As a city we should lead the way in local environmental issues”).
Torre’s election seems to signal a change in City Hall (cityofaspen.com). This is a candidate of the people, whom voters hope will bring some civility and a more open relationship between local residents and their government. “I view this as a collaborative exercise and look forward to meeting with all members of the community.” Just not over coffee. “I never drink the stuff, ” he says with a laugh.