Fraser, who was first elected to town council in 2001, announced last week that he is running for a second, and final, term as mayor.
His reasons, he says, are simple. He loves what he’s doing and he believes there is unfinished business that he can help the town successfully complete.
“We’ve gone through the greatest recession since the Great Depression and we’ve made difficult decisions,” Fraser said in an interview this week. “We’ve made cuts in infrastructure and staffing and we’ve changed how Telluride’s government operates. We’ve been successful. Now I feel, ultimately, that it’s my responsibility to carry us through the next four years.”
As of this week, nobody else has declared an intention to run against Fraser for mayor. Along with Fraser’s seat, two council seats, currently held by Thom Carnevale and David Oyster, will also be on the November ballot.
While a four-person majority of council will not face voters this year, Fraser said he still sees a need for the depth of continuity that he can provide. This is particularly true, he said, since so many town initiatives have had to be put on hold.
For example, although the town has created 97 units of affordable housing since 1998, Fraser said, “for the first time during my tenure on council there is no affordable housing project on the hook.”
The town’s commitment to housing remains important, however, Fraser said, despite the economic downturn. In fact, he noted, housing is itself a form of economic development that helps sustain the town by securing its residential population.
Similarly, having participated in years of discussion and having absorbed countless studies about the town’s water supply and the need to build a new municipal water treatment facility at Pandora, Fraser said he is committed to seeing that project – which is in its initial phases of construction – through.
“There are people who haven’t been through the process and don’t understand why it’s so important to complete the Bridal Veil system,” Fraser explained. “I’d like to be around to help explain it.”
The other unfinished business before the town, Fraser said, include street and highway repair and economic development initiatives.
A temporary repair to the Hwy 145 Spur completed this summer will last only about five years, he said, even subject to a low speed limit intended to extend its life, when it will again be necessary to consider a permanent fix. Similarly, Colorado Ave. through town is deteriorating and requires expensive replacement. How the town will find the funding for either one or both of those projects is sure to rank high on the next council’s agenda.
And while economic development efforts have fallen down on the priority list, due to the slow economy, Fraser suggested that “there is no better time to be planning for the future than when things are slow.”
“We need to make sure over the next four years that we’re back on track to do what we need to do to succeed when the economy recovers,” Fraser said. “There’s more support now than ever for tourism.”
In addition to a deep knowledge of the issues, Fraser said he brings an ability to facilitate decision making to the job, both on council and between Telluride and its neighboring governments.
“When you enjoy what you’re doing and feel you’re good at it, it’s natural that you want to keep doing it,” Fraser said. “I live this job. I love what I’m doing. If you care for this town as much as I do and if you believe in this community as much as I do, you just can’t imagine walking away from it now.”
If re-elected, another term would be Fraser’s last, as the town charter limits both council and mayoral terms to just two.