Pitco elects Owsley, Farris and Hatfield | AspenTimes.com

Pitco elects Owsley, Farris and Hatfield

Eben Harrell
Pitkin County Commissioner Dorothea Farris receives a congratulatory hug from husband Doug. Looking on is Michael Owsley, who was also elected commissioner. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

Michael Owsley, the Democratic challenger and outspoken opponent of large development, upset incumbent Shellie Roy in the District 3 race for Pitkin County commissioner Tuesday.The other incumbents running for re-election, Jack Hatfield in District 4 and Dorothea Farris in District 5, defended their seats easily.The District 3 race, predicted by many to be close, ended up as a comfortable victory for Owsley, who received 4,204 votes to Roy’s 3,868. The campaign highlighted distinct differences between the candidates, with Woody Creek Caucus leader Owsley trumpeting his work to curb large development and Roy calling herself a “pragmatist” willing to work with developers. “I was surprised [I won by] such a large margin,” Owsley said. “I think people are very concerned about keeping Pitkin County a place they recognize. Development has the possibility of changing that.”

Roy said the county’s Democratic voters picked Owsley due to his affiliation with John Kerry’s party.She also said she “feels relieved of a burden” now that she’s leaving office because of a conflict with another commissioner. “The reality is that every time I have had a success in the last eight years I have been crushed by a fellow board member. The day I was run over by a car it was because of a fellow board member. I can’t wait to work in a world where creativity, hard work and intelligence is rewarded and not crushed,” Roy said.She refused to name the board member, but in yesterday’s Times, a Roy supporter took out an advertisement that read, in part, “Roy has been hammered by the Mick Ireland machine of fanatical liberals.”Owsley said his first priority on the board will be to “establish a working relationship” with other commissioners. In the next four years, he said, the board’s priorities should be to set policies on “preservation, water rights and participation by people in Pitkin County.”

In District 5, Crystal River Valley resident Tom McBrayer was unable to unseat Farris, despite running a campaign that accused the commissioner of neglecting her constituency. Although Farris lost in her home voting precinct of Redstone by five votes, she handily took the rest of the county with a total of 5,123 votes compared to McBrayer’s 2,439 votes. Farris said her landslide victory validates her leadership and countywide popularity.”I think I do represent my district and all the districts. This vote showed that,” she said. “The people who voted for me understood that [a commissioner] needs to grasp the issues in all the districts but vote for what’s best for the entire county.”Farris also praised Owsley, saying he will be warmly welcomed by sitting members of the board.”I think Michael is dedicated to doing what is right,” she said. “I look forward to working with him.”

Hatfield, a Snowmass Village resident, won easily, garnering 4,836 votes compared to challenger Cheryl Koehne’s 2,380. Hatfield’s campaign emphasized his experience in contrast with political newcomer Koehne.Hatfield, who has served 17 years as an elected official and four years as a commissioner, said last night that he’s looking forward to another term.”My experience is one of the many reasons that I won,” he said. “My priority now is to continue my work on the board protecting quality of life and being a great steward of the environment.”Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com

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