Johnson to run for City Council
Jack Johnson, a member of Aspen’s Planning and Zoning Commission, is the first Aspenite to formally announce his candidacy in this spring’s Aspen City Council race.There will be two open seats on the council; Councilman Terry Paulson will be forced out by term limits and one-term Councilman Tim Semrau has said he will not seek re-election.In the separate mayoral race, incumbent Helen Klanderud has confirmed she will seek re-election, but as yet, has no challengers.Johnson, 40, has been active in various local organizations, including his current stint on the P&Z, but said he’s seeking an elected post for the first time.
“I believe in where I live. I really believe in Aspen,” he said by way of explanation for his interest in civic participation. Johnson has worked as a ski ambassador on the slopes (he’s a snowboarder), serves on the screening committee for Aspen Filmfest, is co-chairman of the Aspen Gay and Lesbian Community Fund and helped found the Aspen Art Museum Contemporaries, a group focused on bolstering involvement in the museum among young professionals. Until recently, he chaired the Contemporaries’ steering committee.”This is a different place than anywhere I’ve ever lived,” Johnson said. “I hit on all cylinders here. I have a lot of interests – political, social, cultural, nonprofits … there’s opportunity to challenge all of those aspects.”Johnson said he first got involved in local politics when the Entrance to Aspen debate resulted in an S-curves versus “straight shot” ballot question in the November 2002 election. He was active with the Citizens for a Small Town Entrance in campaigning for the existing S-curves alignment of Highway 82 as it enters town.Although he stresses he is not a one-issue candidate and has no agenda to bring to the council, Johnson said he supports the controversial Burlingame Ranch project and won’t support the current push to put the worker housing project to another vote.
“I think the voice of the people has been heard,” he said. Johnson said he expects the results of the S-curves vote (the S-curves won) to be respected, therefore the August 2000 vote in support of Burlingame should be respected, as well.”The right way to house people who work here will always be a challenge,” he conceded.As a P&Z member, Johnson supported an ambitious package of zoning amendments known as infill, in large part because it allowed new development in the core of town that would include more worker housing. The council ultimately declined to adopt the proposals en masse.”I was a big supporter of infill and I still am,” he said. “I think we should have more people living downtown. Aspen is great because of the people who live here.”
As a council member, Johnson said he’d like to see city government get more input from the resort’s seasonal and Latino workers, and second-home owners.”They’re people who aren’t here all the time, who have a political stake in the community and make a contribution to the community,” he said.Johnson, an architect, currently does design work for Snaidero Aspen, an Italian kitchen and bath cabinetry company. He resides in what he calls “the last of the great ski bum complexes” – the Mine Dump Apartments at the base of Shadow Mountain.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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