Community character remains hot topic in Snowmass Village Town Council debate

City Council hopefuls speak at the Squirm Party on Wednesday, October 12, 2022 at Snowmass Town Hall. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The Snowmass City Council Squirm Night debate highlighted many differences between the four candidates. Outgoing councilor Thomas Goode drew on his many years of experience on city council, while challengers Matthew Dube, Britta Gustafson and Susan Marolt drew on their knowledge of the Snowmass community. The four are vying for two open seats.

Kaya Williams of Aspen Public Radio, Aspen Daily News Editor Megan Tackett and Aspen time Editor Don Rogers moderated the 50-minute debate, which can be viewed here:

They started the second session, after the mayors’ forum, with a question for Marolt and Goode about how money should be spent when revenues are higher than expected. Marolt had the first chance to respond.

“I think the best thing for the city in this situation is to kind of save it for a rainy day, build up your reserves, so that when things aren’t going so well you have a cushion. there,” she said.

Marolt, a small-business owner and public accountant, said her experience as a tax accountant and on the Aspen school board prepared her well for serving on the city council. She has lived in Snowmass for 30 years.

Snowmass Village Council hopeful Susan Marolt speaks during Squirm Night at City Hall. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Goode agreed with Marolt and said the town of Snowmass has a good financial reserve, but there are a lot of capital projects going on at the moment.

“How far are we going? I think it depends on the community as to what we want to spend our money on,” he said. “How much money the city wants to spend on certain projects is an issue for me at this point.”

He has lived in Snowmass Village since 1973. He has worked as a teacher, football coach and ski instructor and runs a plumbing and heating business, in addition to being a council member, of course.

Marolt took the opportunity to rebut, drawing on his experience as a CPA.

“When you ask a tax accountant a question, the answer is usually ‘It depends.’ I agree with Tom (Goode) It kind of depends on what you have in your budget, what you’ve set as goals for the board, you look at all of that, and you listen to the community, and you decide what you do with extra funds,” she said.

Gustafson and Goode had different views on the concept of “just big enough”, a city slogan. While Gustafson’s campaign is on the idea, Goode said he disagrees with the phrase.

“What’s just big enough?” Does that mean just big enough above the wooden bridge or does that mean the whole city, the municipality? I’m not a fan of just big enough, not at all. We could look across the street at what’s going on in our lives in this city, and it’s just not big enough anymore. We went from being more rural to urban,” Goode said.

Current Snowmass Village Councilman and hopeful Tom Goode speak during Squirm Night. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Gustafson countered by saying the focus was on just big enough issues, but it has to be more than words.

“I think the original vision was to have these development nodes, and, yes, they got big, but they were always part of the plan. I think it’s more than just an aspiration. I think it’s a belief system in this community,” she said.

Goode rebutted, saying that beyond the Wood Bridge Condos is as far as development can go, as there isn’t much land left to develop.

Like the town hall debate, Marolt and Gustafson were asked to define the community character of Snowmass Village.

Marolt started by talking about hiking, biking and skiing right outside everyone’s doorstep, what makes the city special.

“To me, I think that element – the people who live here and work here and the local businesses – are the elements that we have to work so hard to preserve, and I think when we talk about growth it doesn’t mean that we say, ‘No growth.’ It means we’re directing that growth, so we’re preserving those things that we really value,” she said.

Gustafson said the core of community character is a deep desire to participate, whether that means engaging with one another in community conversations or participating in outdoor recreational activities.

Snowmass Village Councilman Britta Gustafson speaks during Squirm Night. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Gustafson, who was born and raised in Snowmass, has remained connected to the Snowmass Village community through her column in the snow mass sun. She is also Director of Communications for the Farm Collaborative and Creative Director for edible aspen magazine.

“I think one of the roots of that for us here is that we really love this lifestyle. There is a deep feeling among everyone that the love of this lifestyle is what brings us together. It’s the mountains, yes, first, and then falling in love with all the things we care about as we grow as a community,” she said.

In his closing remarks, Dubé spoke about the importance of the community character of Snowmass.

“It all comes down to knowing our essence. Essence is a concept related to character, it is related to community. We must strengthen our neighborhoods, our schools, our institutions and our employers to form a complete community,” he said.

Snowmass City Council hopeful Matt Dube speaks during Squirm Night. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Dube has been at Snowmass since 2015 and runs a commercial photography business with his wife. He serves on the Snowmass Village Planning Commission, is a member of the Snowmass Village Rotary Club, volunteers on the HOA Board of Directors, and is part of the Caring Connection team at Snowmass Chapel.

One topic that all of the contestants could agree on was what they wanted to keep forever in Snowmass Village: the city’s velocity, the community character, and the relationships formed in the village.

“I agree with everyone, regarding Matt’s cycling, Britta’s comment and Susan’s in particular. It’s just a wonderful community, and I love being here and living here,” Goode said.

Comments are closed.