Aspen council stays True to succession plan
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
ASPEN – It’s official: Jim True will be Aspen’s new city attorney.
True, 58, has served as the city’s “special counsel” for more than four years. The role is essentially the same as what other municipalities refer to as an “assistant city attorney.” True also has been representing the city in municipal court as a prosecutor. In addition, he handles legal work for Pitkin County government on a contract basis.
The Aspen City Council on Monday approved a resolution that calls for True to succeed City Attorney John Worcester beginning Feb. 21. Worcester, 64, is retiring after working for the city for 21 years, 19 as city attorney. A succession plan calling for True to follow Worcester was crafted in December 2007.
True is a native of Columbia, S.C. He received an undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech in chemical engineering before attending the University of South Carolina’s law school.
“A little-known fact: Both John Worcester and I have chemical engineering degrees,” he said.
In a brief interview during a break in Monday evening’s City Council meeting, True joked that it was “cool and groovy” to be named city attorney. He said he has learned a lot from Worcester over the past few years.
True spoke of his family’s deep Southern roots and how it has been traced to pre-Revolutionary War times. He said his great-grandfather, who served in the Confederate Army, was captured at Gettysburg in July 1863. He served out most of the remainder of the Civil War in a U.S. prison camp.
Until he can find someone to take his current position, True said he will be doing “double duty.” That means he’ll not only be handling the regular duties of city attorney, representing the city and City Council on major legal matters, he’ll also be sitting in on meetings of various boards, such as the Planning and Zoning, Historic Preservation and Election commissions. He’ll also continue to prosecute minor offenses in Municipal Court.
“It’s fascinating legal stuff,” he said of his duties for the city. “You work with great people here on the city staff. You work with great attorneys on the outside. Overall it’s been a great experience, and I look forward to it continuing to be great.”
The city attorney’s office has been busy in recent years. Currently it is active defending the city in lawsuits over a political gadfly’s request to view voter ballots, a challenge to the city’s water rights for hydroelectric projects and other legal entanglements.
True said although the work can be overwhelming at times, it’s manageable.
“We just wade through it as best we can,” he said. “John has been such an incredible talent for this city that we’ve been able to go forward very strongly. I just hope I can continue that. There’s just a demeanor in how John handles himself, and it’s been a great learning experience.”
During Monday’s meeting, Councilman Derek Johnson likened the transition of Worcester to True to that of the switch of quarterbacks at the Green Bay Packers: Brett Farve to Aaron Rodgers.
True, who began practicing law in Aspen in 1979, also has experience as an elected official. He served as a Pitkin County commissioner from 1989 to 1997. He lives in the Castle Creek Road area and is married with two stepchildren and two children from a previous marriage.
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The city of Aspen’s office building is exempt from paying encroachment fees, yet private developers have to now pay $9 a square foot, per month, starting in 2020.