DeVilbiss, Johnson best choices for City Council
In an era when many American towns can barely coax voters to the polls or find candidates for elected office, Aspen should feel lucky to have seven candidates vying for two open seats on the City Council. The Times editorial board had a hard time deciding which candidates to endorse for this race, but in the end we decided to recommend Jack Johnson and J.E. DeVilbiss.Jack Johnson impressed us as a thoughtful, well-informed and level-headed person. Though young and relatively new to town, Johnson has distinguished himself through involvement and volunteerism, including three years on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Johnson specifically wants to revitalize Aspen’s retail core. He cares about the town as both a community and a resort, and we think he’ll bring ideas, enthusiasm and a forward-looking attitude to the council.Unlike Johnson, J.E. DeVilbiss is someone who Aspenites have known for decades as a district judge. As a resident of employee housing, DeVilbiss jumped into this race with his gaze focused on the Burlingame housing project, a decision that made him appear to many as a narrow, one-issue candidate. We share this concern, but we’re recommending DeVilbiss based as much on his history as a local magistrate as his pro-housing stance. If there’s anyone in town who knows how to study an issue and make a wise, fact-based decision, it’s J.E. DeVilbiss. Simply stated, we trust the former judge to do a good job as a councilman, weighing the merits of each issue and then casting his vote with the town’s betterment in mind.Three other candidates made us stop and think over the last month, and we thought they deserved mention here: Marcia Goshorn, Andrew Kole and Cliff Weiss.Marcia Goshorn has paid her dues through a long history of community involvement. She knows her stuff, she cares and she seems decisive (a true asset for a politician). But we fear she’s too aggressive with her opinions at times and might not listen enough to alternative points of view.Andrew Kole surprised us in this campaign. He contributed smart ideas to the debate and came off as a thoughtful, even-handed candidate. But elections are based on more than just the campaign, and the personality that Kole displayed on his former GrassRoots TV show was that of an arrogant spotlight-hog. We can’t quite reconcile the new Kole with the old one.Cliff Weiss impressed us with his knowledge and clear desire to dive into the complexities of the job, specifically the city budget. Weiss seems to be an absolute no-growth candidate, and he’s made it clear he would stymie private- and public-sector development. If “no change” is what you want for Aspen, then Weiss would appear to be your man. We think that’s a narrow lens for a city councilman.We’re heeding the words of Councilman Tim Semrau, who had this advice for Aspenites as they enter the voting booth: “It’s about the intelligence, common sense and listening ability of the candidates.”Vote for Jack Johnson and J.E. DeVilbiss on May 3.
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