Johnson makes his Pitkin County election bid official |

Johnson makes his Pitkin County election bid official

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Former Aspen City Councilman Jack Johnson made his bid for a Pitkin County commissioner seat official Thursday before a gathering of supporters at The Library bar in the Hotel Jerome.

Johnson, a current member of the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission, is seeking election to the District 1 seat held by Patti Kay-Clapper, who cannot seek re-election in November because of term limits. He is the first candidate to announce a run for the open seat.

A Democrat, Johnson served one term on the council, losing a re-election bid last year. Asked if he learned from that experience, Johnson said, “You mean, as far as like, getting elected?”

The candidate said he intends to do a better job of communicating the issues and his positions on them this time around. Johnson said he will attend caucus meetings throughout the county as his first step toward reaching out to the rural base of constituents and delving into their concerns.

“I’ll be frank. There’s a lot of learning to do,” he said.

Though the county’s five commissioners represent five different districts, in the sense that they each must reside within a defined section of the county, they are elected by a countywide vote.

“We have a tendency to think the world begins and ends at the roundabout,” Johnson said of Aspenites.

He called for a better understanding between city and county governments, as their decisions affect both jurisdictions. He noted specifically upcoming decisions the county may make regarding the airport, Aspen Business Center and an eventual base-area redevelopment at Buttermilk.

Among the many issues Johnson touched on in reading a prepared statement, he indicated support for the purchase of worker housing sites and open space now, while land prices are down; and adding to the state’s wilderness by working with user groups to forward the Hidden Gems proposal.

He also said he supports asking county voters to reauthorize the tax that supports the Healthy Community Fund, currently set to expire in 2012.

“I am not a single-issue candidate, and these are not single-issue times,” Johnson said, calling himself an independent thinker.

“I do not run with the pack, and I am prepared to stand up and go against the grain when necessary,” he said.

Johnson, 45, a native of Kentucky, moved to Aspen in 2001 and has since worked a variety of jobs, served both civic and nonprofit causes, and has run the gauntlet of Aspen’s housing challenge. At present, he is designing a line of men’s knitwear and writing a book.

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