Councilman Hershey decides against run for commissioner | AspenTimes.com

Councilman Hershey decides against run for commissioner

Allyn Harvey
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen City Councilman Tony Hershey set his political ambitions on the back burner yesterday, dropping plans to run for Pitkin County commissioner.

Hershey had been mulling the possibility of running for the five-member county board since early this year. But after discussing the idea with political supporters and his potential colleagues on the county commission, and after considering the demands of the job, he decided against a run.

The seat that Hershey had been eyeing is currently occupied by two-term incumbent Mick Ireland. Ireland has had a fairly easy time holding the seat, winning two general and two recall elections by comfortable margins. Ireland has not announced whether he will seek a third term as a commissioner.

“I feel some regret. I think a certain percentage of the people of Pitkin County are desperate for change; I’m just not the one to provide that to them right now,” Hershey said.

He said time demands were a big factor in his decision. County commissioner is supposed to be a full-time job, with a salary of more than $51,000. Hershey said it would take away too much of his time caring for his elderly father.

Hershey also said he likes his current position in Aspen.

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“I enjoy what I’m doing here now, and I still have work to complete,” he said. “I ran for a four-year term, I promised to serve, and I plan to finish it.”

In particular, Hershey wants to make sure the new regulations on historic preservation come out the way he thinks they should.

“It’s just not the right time for me personally, professionally or politically,” he said.

Hershey said he is also pleased to see the changing position of several commissioners in the county’s land-use code debate. The commissioners are in the midst of a major rewrite of the rules that govern land use and development. They recently agreed to allow 15,000-square-foot homes in rural areas under certain circumstances.

“As a property rights advocate, protecting ranchers and farmers was a reason to run,” Hershey said. “I’m glad to see the commissioners are going in a better direction.”

There is one set of circumstances that might get Hershey to reconsider his decision not to run: “I would consider running if Mick [Ireland] ends up being the only viable candidate in District 2,” Hershey said.