HomeNews Meet the candidates for Crested Butte Mayor and Crested Butte Town Council
Meet the candidates for Crested Butte Mayor and Crested Butte Town Council
Written by CB Staff
Wednesday, 02 October 2013
Between now and the beginning of November, the Crested Butte News will be asking the candidates for Crested Butte Town Council questions related to the community. We are requesting they keep their answers to no more than 500 words. We start with the proverbial softball where each candidate can brag about their strengths. The questions will get more specific as the month progresses. We are also asking interested readers to send us a question to ask the magnificent seven. Send your suggestion to
And do not forget the Crested Butte News Candidate’s Forum is being held this year on Wednesday, October 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Center for the Arts. Come and ask your potential representatives an interesting question...Thanks.
Aaron Huckstep mayoral candidate
Number of years in Crested Butte and the valley: I moved to Crested Butte on May 10, 2008 and have been living here full-time since that day.
Occupation: (1) Founder, Huckstep Law, LLC, specializing in business, real estate and land use law; (2) Mayor; (3) Co-founder and committed volunteer, Elk Mountain Events.
What special trait do you see yourself having that will benefit the council? The courage to ask hard questions and thoughtfully consider alternative courses of action.
And from one of our readers...Should a council member consider opinions from second homeowners when making town council decisions? Yes, a council member should consider opinions from second homeowners. More important, a council member should consider opinions from any source. President Obama has succinctly explained why this is important: “Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge.” I believe strongly that the council’s consideration of diverse opinions leads to more effective decisions. As your mayor, I have regularly and proactively sought out opinions from citizens, second homeowners, tourists, business owners, directors of local nonprofits, staff members, and consultants on topics being considered by the council. In addition, as the vice president of CAST (Colorado Association of Ski Towns), I regularly communicate with mayors and managers in mountain towns across Colorado to better understand the impacts of matters under consideration by the council. The only alternative to inclusive public engagement is an “exclusive” approach, where elected officials only consider opinions from certain classes of individuals. Ultimately, an exclusive approach erodes communication within our greater community, stifles future collaboration and reduces the respect given to our elected body. Our community experienced this divisiveness first-hand during a back-and-forth battle fought in the Crested Butte News this summer. Although the Town Council did not engage in the discussion (rightfully so, I believe), I spoke with the individuals involved (including the director of the music festival) to fully understand the situation and its impacts. This is a great example of the mayor playing the needed role of diplomat. While we must acknowledge the tension that exists between full-time residents and second homeowners (which is not unique to Crested Butte), I do not agree that this tension requires any elected official to exclude consideration of anyone’s opinion. John F. Kennedy expressed this sentiment well, saying, “The voters selected us, in short, because they had confidence in our judgment and our ability to exercise that judgment.” In my service as mayor, the ability to listen to different (and sometimes competing) opinions on issues has had tremendous value. By focusing on finding common ground and a shared vision for outcomes, I have helped create solutions that benefit our greater community (you can see many examples at www.huckformayor.com). I hope to continue this effort in the next two years as your mayor.
Favorite actor: Ed Norton
Favorite author: Dave Ochs, in just about every email—highly entertaining
Favorite athlete: Fabian Cancellara (“Spartacus”)
Jeremy Rubingh mayoral candidate
Number of years in Crested Butte and the valley: 11 (on and off)
Occupation: Consultant, Colorado Statewide Program manager for the Western Conservation Foundation, filmmaker
What special trait do you see yourself having that will benefit the council? I am a consensus builder. I fundamentally believe in listening to people and fostering open dialogue to render the best possible solutions. I work hard to cultivate diverse opinions and ideas in my professional and political work, because diversity of opinion leads to better decision-making and broader, more powerful coalitions. This is how I have been able to help get significant projects, negotiations and policy across the finish line. Colorado’s newest National Monument, Chimney Rock (which protects a beautiful and sacred place and is projected to double the economy in the Pagosa Springs to Durango corridor), the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act that is making good bipartisan progress, the potential for a Browns Canyon National Monument, and eventually a Gunnison County public lands bill, are all good examples of this process that I am proud to be involved in. Likewise I am proud to have worked with diverse groups to ensure the election of great forward-thinking, consensus-building candidates like Rep. Millie Hamner (HD 61) and to have prevented the misguided recall attempt of Rep. Mike McLachlan (HD 59). I truly believe that good, open dialogue and information sharing renders better, more effective results. This is a trait that I will bring to the council to make good decisions for our community and ensure all constituents needs and ideas are heard.
And from one of our readers...Should a council member consider opinions from second homeowners when making town council decisions? First and foremost, as Town Council members we are responsible to the people that live and vote here. It is extremely important to our local economy that we remember that we invite a lot of other folks to come hang out with us in our little town. Our local political process gives opportunities to anyone who wishes to participate, make their voice heard and affect Town decisions and policies. Council meetings are open to the public, as are many meetings of our local boards and commissions. I do think it is important that these meetings be held and important decisions be made when public can actually reasonably attend. These public meetings are the appropriate venue for the public, no matter where they come from, to influence local political decisions. As mayor, I will encourage both full-time and part-time residents to participate in this tried and true public political process. The outcome will be a council more informed of the needs and views of the public at large, which will help us make better public policy and respond to the needs of our constituents. Please find more information or get in touch with me through: www.crestedbuttemayor.com and
Favorite actor: Bill Murray
Favorite author: Hunter S. Thompson
Favorite athlete: Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets: classy, cool-headed and who you want at point guard when it’s clutch.
Chris Ladoulis Council candidate
Number of years in Crested Butte and the valley: 14 years in the valley, the last 12 in the Town of Crested Butte
What special trait do you see yourself having that will benefit the council? I am a good listener and feel I understand people pretty well. There is sometimes a difference between what people think, what people want, what they need and what they’ll share with you, and appreciating that distinction can be difficult. For my entire career, I’ve been in positions where it’s important to listen first and then try to understand all sides of an issue: from marketing products to customers, training salespeople on negotiation skills, assisting executives with key personnel decisions, and most recently, trying to keep our restaurant customers happy in July. For a Town Council member, it’s not enough to simply have a good idea. You have to listen and figure out why it’s important to others, communicate effectively with those it affects, objectively assess the feedback you receive, and make a decision that people can respect.
And from one of our readers...Should a council member consider opinions from second homeowners when making Town Council decisions? Our town council has always considered—and should continue to consider—the opinions of our community when making decisions. This community brings together thousands of people from different backgrounds, and they provide an invaluable pool of talent and experience. Some live in the town limits, others commute from nearby; some live here year-round, some part-time; some have been here for over 20 years, and some just a few weeks. But we all represent an important part of what makes Crested Butte such a special place. We all chose Crested Butte. Clearly, the Town Council has a responsibility to protect the interests of the town’s residents. The Town of Crested Butte can also play a leadership role for the entire valley, since it uniquely reflects our history and is central to the area’s economy. Fulfilling our responsibility requires listening to input from everyone with a valuable contribution and a vested interest in the future of our town.
Favorite actor: Daniel-Day Lewis
Favorite author: José Saramago
Favorite athlete: My son Mario, of course!
Roland Mason council candidate
Number of years in Crested Butte and the valley: Over 30 years (born and raised here).
What special trait do you see yourself having that will benefit the council? I do not make hasty decisions. I continually seek information that will add to the overall picture of an issue. That does not necessarily mean everyone will agree with my end vote, but I do not shoot from the hip.
And from one of our readers...Should a council member consider opinions from second homeowners when making town council decisions? I believe all opinions should be considered. If a non-voting member of the public takes the time to call, email, or stop me on the street I take the time to listen to what they have to say. Just recently the Council passed ordinance 19 Series 2013 allowing retail marijuana in the town limits. The zones that include Elk Avenue were considered for these retail shops to operate. We received over 50 emails (many from second home owners) and heard from the community at a packed Council Chambers expressing their concerns with the Elk locations. Most of the Council found their concerns to be sensible and marijuana retail shops are currently not allowed on Elk Avenue.
Favorite Actor: Jack Nicholson
Favorite Author: Robert Heinlein
Favorite Athlete: John Elway
Number of years in Crested Butte and the valley: 29 (my whole life)
Occupation: Bookseller/barista-owner of Townie Books and Rumors Coffee and Tea House
What special trait do you see yourself having that will benefit the council? I am a woman of many hats.....meaning I have a grasp of many different segments of the community. I am a business owner, I have been involved in various non-profits over the years, I have been involved in environmental movements, I have taught children, I have done theater and I grew up here so I can relate to the families who are raising their kids in this unique community. I feel that I can represent most of the people in this community because I have had dealings with and built relationships with many of them already. Also because I’ve been involved in non-profits and my own business I have a handle on budgets, board meetings and I know how to work together to get things done.
And from one of our readers...Should a council member consider opinions from second homeowners when making town council decisions? This is a tricky question these days because we definitely need the second homeowners and we should respect how they feel about some issues. However, as far as final decisions that affect the residents of Crested Butte, we should primarily consider full-time residents’ needs. I had a very eye-opening experience this summer specifically about this issue. My extended family has a cottage on Lake Sunapee, N.H. and while I was there my aunt and mom went to a special council meeting specifically for second homeowners. They were complaining about how they don’t get a say in how the town works, and that they pay taxes there so they should get a say. My aunt actually changed her residency so that she could have a vote there. We had a great discussion about the different sides of the argument. What I gained from this experience is that the second homeowners pay taxes and should be welcome at the town meetings to voice their opinions (which they already are welcome during public comment), and I feel that if you want to vote somewhere then you should change your residency, but you only get to vote in one place, those are just the rules. I sympathize with the second homeowners because I know that they care about Crested Butte and I will listen to how they feel about the issues. However, when it comes down to making the tough decisions for our town the full-time residents are the ones who should have the final say.
Favorite actor: Simon Pegg
Favorite author: Kurt Vonnegut, TC Boyle and Ruth Ozeki
Favorite athlete: Kwan Jang Nim H.C. Hwang (Grandmaster of the Korean Martial Art, Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan)
Jim Schmidt council candidate
Number of years in Crested Butte and the valley: 37 years in the Town of Crested Butte.
Occupation: I’m a driver for Alpine Express and tour guide.
What special trait do you see yourself having that will benefit the council? I have many traits that benefit the council. My experience of serving on the council for over 23 years including six as mayor is very important at a time when we have a new town manager and one senior staff member has retired and a couple more may do so in the next few years. I am able to look at the big picture and provide a balanced view on all issues. A one-issue candidate does not serve the town well nor does one who represents only one segment of the community. While I have been known as one who can fashion a fair and equitable compromise, I will not compromise on the belief that it is the council’s responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all the citizens of Crested Butte and make this the best possible place to live. I can fairly assess the unexpected items that are always coming before the council and provide solid solutions to whatever problems occur. I also have taken leadership and brought forth initiatives before the council. An example of this was my forming and chairing the Kochevar Trails group. All interested parties were included in this group that resulted in the layout and building of the Lupine Trail parts 1 and 2 within three months after the property was closed on. GOCO had never seen a project get done so quickly. I am currently heading the Cemetery committee, which just had a workday last Saturday. As a person who has run several downtown businesses, served on the boards of the Center for the Arts, the Crested Butte Mountain Theater, the Arts Fair, the Gunnison County housing board, and a few others as well as playing softball for 36 years; I have a feel of how to balance all these competing interests.
And from one of our readers...Should a council member consider opinions from second homeowners when making town council decisions? I consider the opinions of second-home owners when I make decisions as well as those of business owners and all the residents of this end of the valley. We are a community not just a town and though I may favor outcomes which will firstly benefit the residents of the town of Crested Butte I will not ignore the opinions and needs of guests to our valley as well as those mentioned above. The compromise I offered and that the council agreed upon concerning retail marijuana laws reflected views of parents, business owners, the voters of the town, and second homeowners. It was fair and should work for all.
Favorite actor: Ian McShane in Deadwood: Shakespearean cursing at its best
Favorite Author: Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram. He kept me glued for 916 pages
Favorite athlete: The “body-Nazis” and not so “body-Nazis” of Crested Butte that run, bike, ski, play softball or tennis for the love of it.
Josh Schumacher council candidate
Number of years in Crested Butte and the valley: 15 years in the valley and 13 years in Crested Butte
Occupation: Ski lift mechanic
What special trait do you see yourself having that will benefit the council? I am genuine. I truly care about our small community and its continued success. For our community to prosper we need to listen to, and respect each other’s thoughts and opinions. I try to keep an open mind when dealing with problems and solutions. I don’t always have the answer but I do feel that input from those around me is key to coming up with a logical solution to whatever issues we might face. I choose to live in Crested Butte and raise my family here because it is a great community. I want us to work together in order to help it grow in a positive manner. I feel that by being genuine I can have a positive impact as a participant on the town council and the community as a whole.
Should a council member consider opinions from second homeowners when making Town Council decisions? Absolutely! We all love the town we live in; however, we live in a resort town that relies on tourism to survive. This can be a Catch 22, as we want our town to be an idyllic setting to raise our families but we also need to appeal to the outside world in order to survive here. Second homeowners also love our little town and that’s why they invested in it. Unfortunately, after being here for a while we (or at least I) get complacent and forget many of the reasons that brought us here in the first place. Second homeowners come and go between their other communities and here. This makes their opinions very valuable as they have more of a perspective on what draws a tourist to our town and what keeps them coming back for more. I think that as a Crested Butte Town Council member every opinion brought to you should be considered; whether it is from a town resident, second homeowner, or someone on vacation that stops you on the street.