Johnson breezes in council race
Jack Johnson trounced opponent Dee Malone on Tuesday to win a seat on the Aspen City Council, but both candidates decried the lackluster turnout for yesterday’s runoff election.Johnson, who hit the streets in the days before the election and then picked up the phone in the final hours to urge voters to the polls, garnered more than twice as many votes as Malone, winning with 67 percent of the vote, compared to Malone’s nearly 33 percent. Johnson tallied 662 votes, compared to Malone’s 324.Just 19 percent of Aspen’s registered voters cast ballots Tuesday, compared to 45 percent for the city’s general election on May 3.
“I would have liked to see a different result, I would have liked to see a better turnout,” said Malone last night at City Hall after the votes were tallied. She congratulated Johnson and offered her expertise, particularly on water issues, as they arise before council.”I’d love to pick your brain,” Johnson replied.Malone, a biologist, ran on an environmental platform, promising to view issues through the lens of an environmentalist’s perspective. She was perceived as the candidate who most paralleled Councilman Terry Paulson’s views; he is being forced out by term limits.Johnson, a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, countered Malone’s concerns about growth, contending Aspen sees change, rather than growth, and promising to help shape change so the resort handles change for the best.
He said his team placed fliers on 718 doors in the days before the runoff and made 350 phone calls yesterday when it became apparent the turnout would be low.”The turnout is disappointing,” he said. “I think the purpose of a runoff is to get you a plurality. Compared to the general election – we probably should have decided it that night.”The highest turnout in a runoff, since they were instituted in 2001, occurred that same year when Helen Klanderud bested Rachel Richards for the mayor’s seat. That June, 34 percent of voters went to the polls.
Johnson collected 823 votes on May 3, compared to Malone’s 671. Neither candidate garnered enough votes to avoid a runoff, resulting in yesterday’s follow-up election.J.E. DeVilbiss received enough votes to secure a council seat last month, as did Mayor Helen Klanderud, who won a third term. She gave Johnson a hug after his victory last night.DeVilbiss, Johnson and Klanderud will be sworn in at the council’s meeting on Monday night. The new council members will replace Paulson and Tim Semrau, who decided not to seek re-election.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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The city of Aspen’s office building is exempt from paying encroachment fees, yet private developers have to now pay $9 a square foot, per month, starting in 2020.