Our picks for county board primary | AspenTimes.com

Our picks for county board primary

Aspen Times writer

In less than two weeks, Pitkin County voters have the opportunity to choose between three very different candidates for a seat on the Board of County Commissioners.Incumbent Shellie Roy and challengers Bill Mohrman and Michael Owsley all hope to advance to the November general election. Each brings a distinct perspective on land-use policy and county services.Roy, having served two terms already, is by far the most experienced. For many years the only Republican in county government, she is running as an independent this year.Roy is known as a friend of ranchers, farmers and developers. She has stifled attempts in the past to tighten development restrictions, particularly in rural areas.If there is a common criticism of Roy, it is that she appears confused about topics that regularly come before the commissioners, slowing the process while she sorts through information. Owsley has long been active in Pitkin County politics and policy, primarily as a member of the Woody Creek Caucus. No matter how large or small an application, Owsley is likely to be present when the commissioners discuss Woody Creek development proposals.Through years of work on the caucus, Owsley has developed a sophisticated understanding of the county land-use code. At times he seems more familiar with the details of the code than most others in the meeting room. There can be no doubt that he is both committed to and interested in the workings of county government.If there is a common criticism of Owsley, it stems from his perceived fanaticism about protecting Woody Creek from major development. While other neighborhoods have absorbed growth more quietly, Woody Creek, often behind the face of Michael Owsley, meets most proposals kicking and screaming. Owsley can be intimidating and comes across at times as pushy.Mohrman is also a familiar name in county politics, mostly for his opposition to land-use restrictions in rural areas. He has also lent his name over the years to efforts to recall three-term commissioner Mick Ireland.Most recently, Mohrman sat across the table from Ireland and Roy before the State Senate. He was testifying in favor of a bill known as the Droste Bill, which would have potentially gutted Pitkin County’s land-use code. Despite the testimony, Mohrman says he supports many of the land-use restrictions in the county code.Only two commissioner candidates will advance to the November election, and Shellie Roy and Michael Owsley deserve voters’ support in the primary. If they both advance, voters will have a clear choice between Owsley, who strongly supports land-use controls, and Roy, who places property rights before land-use regulation.Bill Mohrman brings valid points to the table, but his record on land-use matters raises a red flag.Vote Owsley or Roy on August 10.

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