Editor's Note: This interview is part of a series on the Basalt mayoral race that takes place on April 7. Aspen Public Radio Morning Edition host and reporter Molly Dove sat down with all three candidates, Bill Kane, Rob Leavitt and Bill Infante in their favorite place in Basalt.
Basalt mayoral candidate Bill Infante sits on a small wooden bench that overlooks the Roaring Fork River in downtown Basalt. He's been a Valley resident since 2015, and because of that, Infante said he can bring fresh, new ideas to Basalt. Infante, who's served on the Basalt Town Council for two years, talked with Aspen Public Radio's Molly Dove about what he'll do if he's elected. Below is an edited version of their conversation.
MD: What is one thing you love about Basalt?
BI: Our town is so wonderful and begins with the great people. Why did [my family] settle in Basalt? It's because of the people. It's not just the warmth, but it's the incredible inspiration that they provide. I mean, we've got some of the world's leading architects and engineers and people who are inspiring form.
I'm thrilled that we've finally moved beyond the paralysis of the Pan and Fork (River Project) for the past eight years. The Art Base is going to anchor this riverfront property, bringing arts education to our youth, bringing gallery space to the incredible local and regional artists that we have in the Valley. This is a great opportunity to distinguish ourselves and these are the things that really make Basalt so special.
MD: What is the one thing you would want to change about Basalt?
BI: I would develop the partnerships up and down the Valley that are so critical, and with our state. Working together, we can tackle all of these vexing challenges. The challenge of promoting affordable housing or having enough affordable housing for pick your demographic, pick your cohort. We know that we need more elderly housing. We know that we need to accommodate the young, bright skilled workers that are populating our town that work at the (Rocky Mountain Institute), that work at the great institutions down in Willits that are the essence of who we are.
MD: What do you think qualifies you to be the mayor of Basalt?
BI: I have spent 25 years living and working overseas in the public sector. I think that I can bring experts and experience, new ideas, a new approach that I hope will permit us to continue to build this great community, make it more cohesive [and] capitalize on the resources that we have. It's really about building the partnerships.
We've had a super great council for the past two years that I've served on. I mean, we all share the same values (and) we all ascribe to the things that we agree are important. None of us want to see massive development and we don't want skyscrapers on south side to be sure, but I think the approach that I bring is indeed a little bit different. So this is where I think my approach distinguishes me from the others and gives me the qualifications, the experience that will permit me to function and serve the residents of Basalt.
MD: What would be your top priorities if you were to be elected?
BI: The priority that I think we're going to have to look at is of course the priority of building our team, building a cohesive council that can function with the information, the insight and the knowledge to make informed decisions. We want to avoid getting stuck as we did on the Pan and Fork (River Project) for eight years. My goodness, we can't do that anymore. So we will want to look at the other challenges of building a cohesive downtown. This means addressing the Basalt center circle and finding ways to really inject the vibrancy that people have said they want. So those are going to be the priorities and I look forward to working with just an excellent team of people who are also going to be elected this April 7.
MD: Why do you think voters on April 7 should vote for you over the other two candidates?
BI: Well, I'm sure like all of the other candidates for the council and mayoral positions, we've all been walking, campaigning and I've been reaching out to our neighbors and friends and frankly, I've heard the same thing. People are looking for something different and if you want something different, it's not going to happen if you vote for the same people. So I think that new ideas, new approaches and just new energy are what people are really looking for these days. I think I'm a guy that can help deliver on that.