Commissioner Roy ready to tackle a third term for Pitco |

Commissioner Roy ready to tackle a third term for Pitco

Eben Harrell
Shellie Roy Harper. 10/17/00. Michael Brands photo.

Shellie Roy calls herself a pragmatist, and when her name appears on the Aug. 10 primary for Pitkin County commissioner, she’ll rightly be listed as “unaffiliated.”Roy, who has lived in Aspen for 28 years and has served as a commissioner for the past seven, has earned a reputation for being one of the few supporters of property and commercial rights on the board. If you want to develop, the reputation goes, Roy’s the woman to approach.But Roy insists she shares the same anti-growth ideology as her colleagues; it’s just that she doesn’t let it cloud her decision making. It’s this pragmatism, what Roy calls “figuring it out as you go along,” that she hopes will win her a third and final term as commissioner.

“It’s important to have an ethic and a vision. And I think almost everyone here believes in living light on the land, but you always have to ask if there’s a better way to achieve your vision,” Roy said.As an example of her more commercially oriented thinking, she wants to explore options to develop commercial ventures in the county’s rural areas, such as Ashcroft, something that would make any traditional conservationist cringe. But to Roy, it may be the best way to sustain the land.”When people have money and choices they preserve the land. It’s when you don’t have money that you ravage the land,” Roy said. “The environment may be healthier if people have solid ways of making money in rural areas. I think we’ll find they put the money back into the environment.”

Roy said that after a rough few years in her first term, this sort of pragmatism eventually won her the approval of fellow commissioners. She cites the county’s paving of Owl Creek Road, an initiative she supported for years before it passed, as a turning point for the board. Initially, some board members felt an unpaved, gravel road was needed to maintain the rural character of the area.”What we found was that mag chloride and gravel was spilling into Owl Creek,” Roy said. “So paving the road actually was the most environmentally sensible thing we could have done.”Roy is seeking a third term because she’s “finally got the hang of it.” She said contacts she has made across the state have made her an effective lobbyist for the county. Last spring, Roy said, her lobbying efforts, along with those of her colleagues on the board, were crucial in securing the dismissal of state Senate Bill 215, which the commissioners claimed would hinder their ability to control growth.

Roy also believes she’s finally been accepted by the other commissioners – “we are all pushing now.” She’s believes this gradual acceptance has occurred because her colleagues have come to see the effectiveness of Roy’s pragmatism.”I was shunned my first two years,” she said. “But I feel like my approach has become increasingly accepted. It’s fun to be right.”Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is

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