Owsley, Hatfield, Newman for county commissioners | AspenTimes.com
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Owsley, Hatfield, Newman for county commissioners

Aspen CO, Colorado

The six candidates running for the three seats on the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners have combined to live in the county for more than 190 years.

In District 3, challenger Shellie Roy is a real estate agent for Frias Property; incumbent Michael Owsley makes his BOCC post his full-time job.

District 4 incumbent Jack Hatfield holds down his commissioner job and runs a property management company; Bruce Anderson is a computer consultant.

The District 5 seat, which is being vacated by Dorothea Farris because of term limits, has biologist and wildlife scientist Dee Malone as a contestant; the other, George Newman, books vacation packages for Ski.com;

All have volunteered locally in one way or another, and each seems to have an affinity for the outdoors, like many of us who choose to live here.

Combine that with their said traits, and we’re confident that all of them are in touch with the needs of their constituencies.

But the three races for three seats on the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners are about as different at they can get.

In the District 3 race, Owsley and Roy cannot seem to agree about anything.

District 4’s Hatfield and Anderson are about as aligned politically as you can get.

And in District 5, Malone and Newman, who are both newcomers to the BOCC fray, have run a respectful campaign against each other.

Whatever fireworks there have been in the BOCC race have come out of District 3. Make no mistake, there is no love lost between these two. Owsley is a stickler when it comes to growth, while Roy advocates less restrictive measures for developers and the like. Neither thinks the other one would be a good county commissioner.

Owsley has sat on the board for four years, and has grown during this time. Roy, his predecessor, would clearly bring experience to the BOCC, but it’s not the experience we would like to see.

We have serious reservations about her judgment, especially with the sale of the Smuggler property. She has insisted that there was no wrongdoing when she brokered the sale of Smuggler after she was a commissioner, even though she was privy to the Smuggler discussions while she was a board member. The potential conflict of interest and ethical breach is troubling to us. Whether this was calculated by Roy is not the point. Our chief concern is her apparent lack of judgment on matters where the appearance of a conflict exists.

Even without the Smuggler issue, we would endorse Owlsey. As the incumbent, Owsley has given us no bona fide reason to get rid of him. We hope he will bring more ideas to the table over the next four years if he is elected, and stands up the big growth that threatens to erode the valley’s quality of life. We have faith that Owsley will get better in time, and we also believe that he represents the valley’s interests better than Roy.

But mainly what it boils down to for us is the fact that Owsley will stand up to developers while Roy will cater to them. We do not believe now is the time for the type of representative government that Roy would bring.

Vote Michael Owsley for District 3 in the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners race.

We applaud Anderson for challenging Hatfield, who, if he wins, will enter his third and final term as county commissioner. Other than a few minor issues, Hatfield and Anderson see eye to eye on most everything. Even during last week’s Squirm Night forum, Anderson gave Hatfield a “B+” for his time on the commission.

Anderson said his main reason for running against Hatfield is that he believes three terms is too much for a county commissioner. That, however, is not a good enough reason for us to support Anderson, simply to “shake things up,” so to speak.

We appreciate Hatfield’s eight years of public service, though we have not agreed with every decision he has made. He does tend to play all sides at times. We wish he would simply take a stand and live with the consequences. Maybe if he’s elected to a final term he will do that.

To Hatfield’s credit, he was on the BOCC that paved Owl Creek Road, limited the Urban Growth Boundary, and set a cap of 15,000-square-feet on single-family home sizes. There is something to be said for that, and we see no reason to not let Hatfield complete the job he started. If Hatfield does return for a final term, we encourage Anderson to demonstrate that he is really serious about the District 3 job. He could do that by regularly attending BOCC meetings and showing he is not yet another candidate who gets charged during election season and then fades away after voting day.

Vote Jack Hatfield for District 4 county commissioner.

District 5 involves two fresh faces in the mix, which makes the decision more difficult than the other two districts. We are impressed with both Malone and Newman. Both are well-spoken about their positions, and they both seem to truly care about improving Pitkin County’s quality of life and environment, as demonstrated by their involvement on community boards, initiatives and organizations.

To that end, we give Newman a slight edge over Malone.

Malone’s platform and philosophy are admirable ” she looks at all issues through an environmental lens. Malone wants to make just about everything in the county “green.” That’s a nice thought, but we feel she is a bit idealistic and overambitious with her goals.

Newman, on the other hand, claims to be an advocate of “smart growth.” Newman also is a proponent of bringing all governments together when it comes to big-picture issues here in the valley, rather than addressing issues through the vacuum of the BOCC.

Newman’s experience on the Emma Caucus can only help if he’s elected to the BOCC. In fact, it was Newman who started the Emma Caucus because of the perceived threat of urban sprawl.

Newman has lived in the valley for 35 years. He’s an outdoorsman and a businessman. He understands the issues that Pitkin County faces, and has a realistic approach to address them.

Vote George Newman for the District 5 county commissioner.


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