Pitkin County candidates: What do you like and what can be impoved?
Editor’s note: This is part two of a five-part Q&A series with county commissioner candidates this week.
Today, the two candidates for the District 3 seat on the Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners answer the second of five questions posed by The Aspen Times.
The District 3 seat currently is held by Michael Owsley, who has served three 4-year terms on the board and is term-limited from running again. District 3 essentially wraps around Aspen’s city limits and includes Independence Pass, Brush Creek and Woody Creek, though members of the board are elected by all county residents on an at-large basis.
The District 4 and District 5 seats, held respectively by Steve Child and George Newman, also are up for re-election, though neither commissioner is being challenged this November. Child will serve his second term on the board, while Newman will serve his third.
Question: What do you admire about Pitkin County’s government and what do you think can be improved about it?
I am continually impressed by the hardworking and dedicated members of the Pitkin County staff and volunteer boards. There are so many good people working for us keeping our roads clear and safe, our community secure and our people cared for, healthy and happy. The current Board of County Commissioners is a hardworking and sincere group that deserves a lot of respect for their personal commitments and efforts on behalf of the citizens of Pitkin County.
The Board of County Commissioners is a board of five people that runs the county. I believe that adding me to the board will add skill sets not otherwise represented, currently, or by my opponent. I have real business experience in arenas not otherwise represented including real estate construction, development and management, renewable energy, environmental business and development (including ownership interests and managerial expertise in those) and water rights.
Like it or not, the county is about to build a new office building, a new airport, and has recently acquired commercial space in Basalt. The board would benefit from the kind of professional experience I bring to the table.
In my view, one is either getting better or worse — there is no such thing as staying the same. I’d like us to get better at building collaborations and partnerships with local jurisdictions, districts and nonprofits. Nonprofits do not get the credit they deserve as agents of care and economic drivers. And we should lead in affordable housing and opportunities for local/resident business creation.
There is much to admire about Pitkin County. We have intelligent and dedicated people on the Board of County Commissioners and on the 23 volunteer citizens’ advisory boards. This community is engaged! The county manager is a real pro, admired by his associates for running a tight ship. I like him and find that we communicate well together.
While in many ways Pitkin County is the envy of other counties around the state, some say we simply have too much money at our discretion, too much bureaucracy, too many rules. As an outsider and a skeptic, I am concerned about government spending, about oversight of all the boards and about the effectiveness of the commissioners to oversee everything, given the deluge of information and detail they see every week.
I am frugal by nature, having worked as an entrepreneur most of my career, and I think many in our community would like the county to err on the side of frugality, as well. I want to make sure that Pitkin County does not become the largest developer in the county. After so many decades of dedicated growth control, it would be a shame to see our own government forget the progress we have made. It is premature to come in with suggestions for improvements before actually spending time with my feet on the ground as a commissioner. I would like Pitkin County to consider an executive style of decision-making, whereby both the pros and the cons of any proposal are presented as objectively as possible by staff to the Board of County Commissioners.
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