In advance of the April 7 Basalt Town Council election, the Roaring Fork Weekly Journal offered all nine of the candidates for mayor and council to express, in their own words, why they deserve your vote. This week, we offer the views of Tiffany Haddad, Bill Infante and Rob Leavitt.
We are one Basalt
By Tiffany Haddad
Candidate for town council
Before my family and I moved to the Roaring Fork Valley, we were here on a visit and had dinner with a friend who lives here in Basalt. She said something that really resonated with me and still does to this day. She told us that the people who live here choose to live here. They live with intention and they each bring value to the community.
We chose Basalt for many reasons, but for me that was the icing on the cake. We settled in Willits after moving here from Baltimore city. It took some time to fit into our new small-town lifestyle but having access to grocery stores, shops, restaurants and other business that are walkable is an important quality we appreciated moving from a large urban city. We saw the value this had for our family by allowing our kids the leeway to ride their bikes to their friends’ houses, to Sure Thing for a burger, and up and down the Rio Grande Trail.
When I told my husband I wanted to run for town council he asked why? My first reaction was why not? In all seriousness, I want to be a bigger part of this community to help build connection among neighborhoods, businesses, and each of you with whom I share this beautiful town. I will be a good listener even when we don’t share the same perspective.
My desire if I am elected will be to work toward:
- Smart growth that increases the availability of affordable housing while preserving the unique character of our community
- More opportunities for children and youth, including the potential for construction of a recreation center in Basalt
- Increased services for our older residents, allowing them to age in place safely and affordably
My commitment is to always lend an ear to listen, to stand up for what is true, and to remain honest and authentic to who I am and to who we are as a community. We are one Basalt and I am proud to live here and share space with you. Feel free to send me an email - I’d love to get to know you and hear your thoughts. TiffanyHaddadBasalt@gmail.com
A proud resident and town council candidate
Vote ‘Yes’ for Basalt
By Bill Infante
Candidate for mayor
Walking our neighborhoods and meeting ever more of our community, I hear that people want something different. There is a yearning for a leader who looks forward, charts a path and builds relations to address the challenges that we face in our town and Valley. Basalt will move forward by looking forward, by respecting those who came before us while saying “yes” to new ideas and new approaches.
Looking to the future, let’s build our identity as a town of ideas, knowledge and solutions that enhance our quality of life. One that salutes our renowned institutions like RMI, AGCI, and the Roaring Fork Conservancy, and engages them as partners in addressing climate change, energy, and watershed protection. A town that supports the architects and designers who are shaping our physical environment. A town known for its arts and culture. A town where commitment to health and wellness is in our DNA, and is supported by local healers and practitioners as well as larger providers that deliver cutting edge healthcare services.
Delivering on a shared identity requires a vision and plan. Shortly after taking office in 2018, the Council conceived a vision for our town articulated in Basalt’s Strategic Framework, the first in eight years and an essential roadmap.
The vision will build vibrancy and community connections. Vibrancy depends on people and grows with supporting the people in existing and new businesses. We can do more to support our businesses that employ us and our children, that make Basalt a destination, and which generate the revenues that fund our town and our services. Over the past year, I encouraged efforts to secure designations, such as a creative arts district and as a small business district. Securing these will put us on state maps, make us eligible for state funding, and contribute to the success of our businesses. Attracting and incubating new ideas and businesses that are homegrown makes us more responsive to local needs, reduces our dependence upon tourism, and thereby diversifies our economy making us more resilient.
Attracting and retaining innovative businesses means promoting excellence in our schools. Great communities have great schools that educate leaders and thinkers, and which help recruit families that bring ideas and skills that build our social capital.
I am also committed to strengthening our governance. After 25 years of building systems that ensure accountable and transparent government, I believe that we have an obligation to protect the financial interests and welfare of our residents and taxpayers.
Over the past two years as councilor, I have worked to strengthen financial management, accountability and transparency. We found the $2 million TABOR problem. We sold loss-making residential properties that were costing taxpayers $250,000/year. We wrote off millions of dollars of improvements to the Pan & Fork when we found there was no legally binding contract to enforce reimbursement. We segregated accounts to know where restricted funds come from, and how much beneficiaries are due. We also know how much we spend on our priorities – affordable housing, child care, green initiatives and the arts. Greater transparency exemplifies the good governance that I am committed to.
Basalt faces challenges, and none is unique to our town. Affordable housing, elder care, child care, climate change, access to clean energy, clean water and high speed internet are on the short list. It's time to work with neighboring towns and counties as partners. I have worked to forge these partnerships by promoting fora that have attracted state reps, county commissioners, and council members from Aspen to Parachute.
Building connections will help us confront the challenges we face as one Basalt, a vibrant and progressive community with a purpose. We will move forward by saying “yes” to fresh ideas, and approaches for Basalt. I believe that I have the experience, ideas and the energy to deliver results, and this is why I’m running to be mayor of Basalt. Thank you for your vote.
‘A campaign about ideas and leadership’
By Rob Leavitt
Candidate for mayor
Friends and fellow Basaltines: I am running for Mayor of Basalt to help contain the growth that threatens the charm and character of our small town, to support our schools, because I believe strong schools make strong communities, and to return our town to a bastion of civil discourse, where lively discussions enhance our decisions and all citizens feel safe and respected.
After my recent comments at a planning and zoning meeting about the number of potential new units being considered for Basalt were reported in The Aspen Times (Dec. 20, 2019), I have been stopped in the supermarket and on the ski slopes and encouraged to run. There is clearly a movement afoot that wishes to preserve our quality of life. We can’t build our way out of a growth problem.
I am the only candidate for mayor with children in the Basalt schools. My wife was president of the Basalt Education Foundation and is currently a Pre-Collegiate mentor, helping students whose parents did not attend college to navigate the application and admission process. I served on the Roaring Fork School District Facilities Master Plan Working Group. We are invested in this community and I will continue to advocate for teacher housing, appoint a student member to the town council and explore financing an additional school resource officer.
My four years on town council ended with the town embroiled in a battle over the future of the Pan and Fork. With that issue finally resolved, it is time for us to move forward. Just because we disagree, doesn’t mean we can stop talking; anyone who is married knows that. Mutual respect and a sense of humor should be part of every conversation.
I have lived in the Valley for 32 years and served on the Basalt Town Council from 2012-2016. Since then, I have been on The Mayor’s Cabinet, The Planning and Zoning Commission and The Gun Range Task Force, where I pushed for a world-class shooting range that was safer, quieter and more fire-resistant. I graduated from Harvard University in 1987 and am a licensed general contractor and Colorado real estate broker. I have been a ski instructor for 31 years teaching alpine, telemark and adaptive skiing at Aspen Highlands. Aside from raising two daughters and going to a lot of meetings, I love to bike and fish and am concerned that too much growth will degrade both.
I plan to make this a campaign about ideas and leadership, not about yard signs. I will not accept campaign contributions and pledge to spend no more than $1,000 on my campaign. Please give donations to your schools, churches or environmental organizations instead of to local politics. In 2019, our town council declared a climate emergency. I don’t believe that investing in yard signs, which end up in the landfill the day after the election, is consistent with being the sustainable community we desire. I don’t want your money. I do want your vote.
I’m Rob Leavitt and I approve this message!