Richards considers county bid | AspenTimes.com

Richards considers county bid

Rachel Richards, an Aspen city councilwoman, is mulling a bid for a county commissioner seat.

Although the Pitkin County commissioner election for District 2 is 11 months away, it’s already an interesting race.Aspen City Councilwoman and former Mayor Rachel Richards confirmed Tuesday she’s thinking of tossing her hat in the ring. “I am considering it really seriously,” she said.Former Pitkin County Commissioner Jim True has also said he’s considering running for the office.

Term limits prohibit Mick Ireland, the incumbent commissioner, from running again.Richards and True are both Democrats and both well-known in local politics. True was elected county commissioner in 1988 and re-elected in 1992 before term limits forced him to step down. He is legally able to seek a seat on the board again.Richards has also proved popular with voters. She was elected to the Aspen City Council in 1991 and served two four-year terms. She was elected mayor in spring 1999 and served for two years. She was upset by a narrow margin in a re-election bid by Helen Klanderud, the current mayor. Richards ran for a council seat and won in spring 2003.Richards and True have often found themselves on the same side of issues in upper valley politics. Both have worked for such causes as affordable housing and open space. When they were asked if it would be awkward running against each other, their demeanors seemed to provide the answer.

Richards said a candidates in local politics run more on their own record and positions than against another candidate.”Certainly it would be a good, clean race if Jim and I run against each other,” Richards said.True would say only, “I think we’ve been aligned on a lot of issues over the years.”Both may seek the Democratic Party designation. Candidates need only 30 percent of delegates’ support at the county convention, so both conceivably could get the nod. The caucus process, the first step in getting the party designation, starts in March.

A primary will take place in August if more than two candidates are running for the seat. Pitkin County’s election is nonpartisan, so it doesn’t matter if more than one Democrat is on the ballot for the same race in the general election in November.Richards said she strongly supported Ireland as commissioner and didn’t consider running against him. That’s no longer an issue because of term limits. Klanderud will also be forced out of office as mayor in spring 2007, but Richards said she hasn’t really considered seeking that office again. The time commitment as mayor makes it difficult to hold a job, she said.Richards said she would welcome the broader challenges that the county commissioner position would bring. She said she brings strong qualifications after working for years on many of those same issues.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com

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