Jack Johnson and Michael Wampler for City Council
The race for the two seats on Aspen City Council has attracted nine candidates whose experience and motivation are as diverse as the people they will represent.But we believe two candidates incumbent Jack Johnson and Michael Wampler have set themselves apart from the rest of the field. We see no reason for incumbent Jack Johnson to lose his seat, but see plenty of reasons for him to retain it.Johnson wears his heart on his sleeve, maybe too much some times, but that doesnt provide enough cause to replace him. Johnson is articulate, makes impassioned arguments for what he believes in, and refuses to roll over. Hes not afraid to take the unpopular position, and he has become battle-tough during his four years on the council.Johnson has stood face-to-face with developers when he feels they have crossed the line. He voted against the redevelopments of the Bidwell building, the Wienerstube and Cooper Street, on the basis that they were out of character with the Aspen Area Community Plan, a guiding document that he has gotten to know well. In fact, Johnson treats the AACP as if its the bible for City Council. It was the AACP that Johnson used to base his decision to approve the Limelight and La Cocina redevelopments.Most of all, Johnson simply loves and cares about Aspen. His critics have taken aim at him for turning his City Council post into a full-time job. Perhaps he has, but he also should be appreciated for putting in the long hours for a job that pays $1,700 a month, with benefits.Wampler, our other choice for City Council, has paid his dues since the last election by sitting on the Planning & Zoning Commission, experience that has helped him learn the intricacies of the land-use code and familiarize himself with the nuances of Aspen government.A bike shop owner, Wampler also brings real-life, small-business experience to a council in dire need of a voice from the local retail community during this national recession. A 32-year Aspen resident, Wampler is entrenched in the community. Hes not going anywhere, or using the City Council post as a status symbol. He simply loves this town and wants to make it better. Wampler, who has an accounting background, has come forward with realistic, concrete ideas. Among them are: Partnering with the private sector on affordable housing; Increasing the summer marketing budget by at least $300,000; Considering re-writing land-use codes so they are in step with the Aspen Area Community Plan.While Jack Johnson and Wampler are our top two picks, voters may select more than two candidates because of the instant run-off system, which debuts at Tuesdays election. Also worth consideration are incumbent Jackie Kasabach and Michael Behrendt. Both have prior City Council experience, and we believe they are up to the challenge of serving another term.We also have been impressed with the professionalism displayed in the City Council race. All candidates have treated each other respectfully during these stressful times, and it has not gone unnoticed.Saying that, we encourage voters to select Jack Johnson and Michael Wampler for Aspen City Council at the May 5 election.
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