Meet the Pitkin County commissioner candidates
ASPEN – With the June 26 primary election two weeks away, this week The Aspen Times is running a series of questions for the four candidates for the District 4 seat on the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners.Under the county’s home rule charter, party affiliation plays no role in which commissioner candidates advance to the general election in November, and all voters will see all four candidates listed on their ballots, though District 4 encompasses the Snowmass Village and Old Snowmass areas. They can vote for one candidate in the race, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election. Among the candidates, Steve Child and John Wilkinson are running as Democrats, while Darryl Grob and John Young are running as unaffiliated candidates. Check The Aspen Times this week, Monday through Friday, to see where the candidates stand on a variety of issues.
Age: 64Occupation: Cattle rancher, Village Shuttle bus driver, cross-country ski instructor, retired schoolteacherYears in the valley: 51Prior civic experience: Serving from about 1974 to present: Pitkin County Weed Advisory Board chairman, Pitkin County Agricultural Building Review Board, Snowmass/Capitol Creeks Caucus Board, Land Use and Weed subcommittees, founder of annual road cleanup, bass singer for Aspen Choral Society. Former: President of Wilderness Workshop board, founder of Wilderness Monitoring Project, Governor’s Energy Office Small Hydro Working Group, Statewide Water Supply Initiative, president of Basalt Elementary School and Basalt Middle School parent/teacher organizations, Light Rail Transit Committee.How would you make a difference in county government as a member of the Board of County Commissioners? I would provide a voice of reason on the board, would be a good listener to all sides of an issue, and make well thought out and objective decisions with the good of the community in mind and at heart. I would treat all constituents with respect and fairness, and would make decisions based on the merits of the proposals.
Age: 60Occupation: Affordable-housing and land-use consultantYears in the valley: 37Prior civic experience: Pitkin County trails director, airport terminal manager, assistant airport manager, and road and bridge director. Snowmass Village – first town manager; built the conference center and 172 affordable-housing units; upgraded snowmelt road; rebuilt all roads; and started the transportation system, Police Department, Public Works, Housing Department, Sanitation Department, Community Development Department and general government services. Current member of Basalt and Rural Fire District board of directors. Represented Aspen Valley Hospital when current facility was expanded. Served on the Aspen School District financial advisory board and various homeowners boards. Volunteered for youth sports in many capacities. Created affordable housing in seven mountain communities. How would you make a difference in county government as a member of the Board of County Commissioners?The current board does a very good job as evidenced by the fact that both Michael Owsley and George Newman are running unopposed. The new dimension that I will bring is a wealth of experience on both the public and private sides. My experience in the resort industry helping to create two resorts, (Snowmass Village and The Canyons in Park City), will add a dimension that doesn’t exist. Having participated in hundreds of millions of dollars of public/private projects with a history of on time/on budget results will assure the citizen’s that an airport project would not become a financial boondoggle.
Age: 66Occupation: Retired Aspen fire chief; current wildfire mitigation project manager for the city of Aspen; current planning consultant for SE Group in Fort Collins; current consultant for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.Years in the valley: 37Prior civic experience: At the core of my civic career, I served 32 years in Aspen fire service, earning increased responsibilities and leadership roles until becoming its first paid fire chief. Besides the incumbent community duties delivering safe and effective life safety response, I was a front-runner in the development and regional coordination of critical civic efforts such as the Pitkin County Public Safety Council. All the while, I continued serving my community by volunteering for the Aspen Historical Society Special District Board, founding the Roaring Fork Veterans History Project and working alongside the Aspen Thrift Shop where I was elected an Honorary Thrift Shop “Lady.” My love for our valley and our wonderful environment has led me to efforts such as the Hunter/Smuggler Focus Group and For the Forest to preserve and protect.How would you make a difference in county government as a member of the Board of County Commissioners?The fundamental role of a county commissioner is to serve as a steward of our community, our homes and our environment. I offer leadership focused on problem solving, pragmatic solutions crafted in a financially responsible manner. Critical thinking and responsible action that focuses on continual improvement befits a professional public servant, we need a few good problem-solvers that deliver. I can do that.
Age: 57Occupation: Commercial insurance agent for Neil-Garing Agency in the Aspen office. I have worked in the insurance-agency business for 36 years. I am working full time and plan on continuing full time if elected. The perspective of my longtime success in local business will help shape the success I hope to continue for our local economy.Years in the valley: I moved to Aspen in 1979 to accept a job at Aspen Agency, which then merged with Neil-Garing Agency. I have not spent more than two weeks away from Pitkin County at any one time since then. I met my wife here, and we have raised our children here – Lindsey is at Northern Michigan University, and Davin is in the 11th grade at Aspen High School.Prior civic experience: Currently mayor pro em on the town of Snowmass Village Council; council member elected in 2004 and 2008; 2000 to 2004, town of Snowmass Village Planning Commission; currently treasurer of Pitkin County Library – I have been on the library board for 18 years; 1995 to 1999, State of Colorado Trails Committee; seven years on State of Colorado Library Advisory Board; eight years on Aspen/Snowmass Nordic Council; six years on RFTA Board of Directors.How would you make a difference in county government as a member of the Board of County Commissioners?My real-time experience as an elected official will allow me to immediately participate in the issues facing the commission. There is a sign at Aspen Elementary School which speaks to my perspective: “That which is right isn’t always popular, that which is popular isn’t always right.” Making the right decision as a public official is usually never easy, nor always popular. You have to have thick skin, and take the criticism both good and bad. I have learned to explain my position, even in opposition to issues.My experience in overseeing the budgets of Snowmass Village, RFTA and the library has made me very fiscally conservative. The budgets of all three entities have not had to rely upon using reserves for operations – even during the economic downturn.Cooperation and collaboration with various groups and entities in Pitkin County would be high on my list.
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Environmental leaders in Aspen are relieved and re-energized with Joe Biden’s election as president. The Trump administration had them on their heels for four years.