DeVilbiss makes run official
J.E. DeVilbiss, the no-nonsense judge who handled tough decisions on hundreds of criminal cases in Aspen for more than 20 years, says he wants to take on a broader role of leadership in the town.DeVilbiss made his candidacy for an Aspen City Council position official Sunday. Affordable housing and environmental issues are motivating the 70-year-old former judge to run.”I decided to run because I’m a strong supporter of affordable housing,” DeVilbiss said. “I think the affordable housing program is under attack.”He said he wants to defend the worthwhile program from those attacks. DeVilbiss has publicly defended the city’s Burlingame housing project, which critics want reviewed again and rejected by voters.DeVilbiss closely guarded his privacy while he served as a district judge in Aspen from 1981 through 2002. Avoiding attention and the limelight was a necessity of the position, he said, and adapting to the very public role of serving on the council would pose no problem.When he retired in December 2002, DeVilbiss told The Aspen Times about his love of the outdoors, specifically rafting and visiting the canyon country of Utah. As a councilman, DeVilbiss said he would be a defender of the environment.As someone who is 70 years old – or “fully grown,” as he said with a chuckle – he wants to make sure he leaves the environment in at least as good a shape as he experienced it.DeVilbiss said the decision to run wasn’t difficult. He started circulating a candidate’s petition last week and received strong verbal support. After his potential candidacy was publicized in local newspapers, people started calling him at home urging him to make a bid.On the bench, DeVilbiss fit the mold of a tough but fair judge. As someone who battled his own personal issues, he was known for working with people suffering from substance abuse and trying to straighten out their lives.More than two years after retirement, he said he wants to be active in a different aspect of the community. “I want to be effective in a different way,” DeVilbiss said.He conceded that he isn’t well-versed in some of the city’s current issues, but he said he could learn them just as he demonstrated he could learn issues while serving on the bench.DeVilbiss has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since 1970, he said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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