Clapper wins commissioner race | AspenTimes.com

Clapper wins commissioner race

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

From left, Patti Clapper, Carrie Tipper and Trevor Clapper watch the results come in on the Pitkin County website at El Rincon in Aspen.

Patti Clapper, who served three terms as county commissioner from 1999 to 2010, has won another seat on the five-member board after defeating incumbent Rob Ittner in a close race for the District 1 seat.

Clapper had 3,971 votes, or 56.30 percent, over Ittner's 3,082 votes, or 43.70 percent. Clapper was confident about her win when The Aspen Times reached her just before 1 a.m.

"I'm excited and ready," Clapper said. "I ran a clean campaign and worked really hard. I'm ready to come back and work for the people of Pitkin County."

For many voters, the impressions cast on the two candidates painted Ittner as the stronger business choice and Clapper as someone who is well-known and can relate more to the local community, making her a favorite among the long-time Aspen population.

"Patti is a real local and she's put in her time here," said Aimee Sheeberknight, a Clapper supporter. "She has real rural character. If business acumen means destroying the environment and small-town character, then we're not for it."

Clapper was at the El Rincon restaurant until around 10 p.m. with other Democratic supporters. The mood was upbeat after Clapper had the initial lead on the first count of ballots that came out around 8:15 p.m., but delays in getting the results tempered the atmosphere to the point of confusion.

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Once word came from the county Clerk and Recorder's Office that results would be delayed until 11 p.m., the party broke up, but Clapper said there was no way she was going to sleep without hearing more results.

"OK, I can sleep now," she said after hearing the 1 a.m. results. "I want to say that Rob did a good job for four years. I hope he's happy with the job I do during the next four years."

The large number of voters that cast their ballots Tuesday caused the result delays. According to several election officials, more voters showed up in person Tuesday at the Aspen polling center than expected.

Around 4:30 p.m., the Courthouse Plaza building was bustling with activity. About a dozen private booths in the voting area were all being used to fill out hand-written ballots with a constant line of people showing up to vote.

By 6 p.m., the Aspen polling center had added extra ballots three times, with around 200 ballots in each addition. The Snowmass Village and Basalt polling centers needed extra ballots, as well.

Pitkin County Elections Manager Bill Mast was experiencing his third election in Pitkin County and was happy to see all the voting activity.

"It's exciting," Mast said. "We've had a great turnout today. We always prefer to get the ballots in early, but we're happy to get as many as we can before 7 p.m."

Ittner couldn't be reached Tuesday evening, but said earlier in the day he was ready for the election to be over.

"I'm ready to be over with the election," Ittner said. "I've been working on this race for the past three months. The last four weeks have been really intense. I won't miss the negative aspects of this race. The nastiness written about me here and there gets very tiring."

Clapper will take her position on the board after getting sworn in this coming January.

"Everybody in the country is ready for this election to be over," Clapper said. "It's been a long haul and I've been working very hard, but I'm ready to get going on the board."

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com