Pitkin County election: Tommy Clapper to run, Hawk Greenway can’t
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Tommy Clapper, husband of Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Kay-Clapper, will be a candidate for the seat Patti will relinquish, but Hawk Greenway won’t be allowed to seek election to the seat.
Patti Kay-Clapper announced her husband’s intention to seek the District 1 seat in the course of recusing herself from a discussion about Greenway’s eligibility as a candidate.
Greenway owns a home east of Aspen, but considers his cabin on Little Annie Road on the back of Aspen Mountain his residence. He has been a registered voter in District 1 since the last county redistricting, in 2001, but it was apparently a multitude of errors that led to inclusion of his Little Annie address in the district, commissioners concluded Wednesday.
Commissioners are the final arbiters over such discrepancies. After poring over maps with Dwight Shellman III, the new election manager in the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, commissioners apologetically told Greenway his residence is in District 3.
“I don’t think this was deliberate, but certainly, Pitkin County owes you an apology,” said Commissioner Rachel Richards.
County commissioners are elected at large by all voters who cast a ballot, but each of the five commissioner seats are assigned to different districts and candidates can only seek election to the seat for the district in which they reside.
Greenway, a longtime member of the county’s Open Space and Trails Board, actually represents District 3 in that capacity, but he was appointed to the board before the last redistricting, when it appeared his residence was re-assigned to District 1.
He urged commissioners to allow his candidacy and sort the issue out with the 2011 redistricting, which will occur after this year’s census.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Greenway after commissioners made the call.
The District 3 seat, currently held by Commissioner Michael Owsley, is not up for election in November, but Greenway said he would not run against Owsley anyway.
“I very much respect his perspective,” Greenway said.
That Greenway has been erroneously registered to vote in District 1 instead of District 3 for the past decade is of little consequence, according to Janice Vos Caudill, clerk and recorder. Since electors vote at large for commissioners, which district a citizen resides in only comes into play when an individual runs for office, she said.
“There have been numerous overlapping errors that have resulted in Hawk’s disappointment and I understand that,” Shellman said. “Ultimately, the question is, where is his residence? If you look at a map, there’s no question it’s in District 3.”
Clapper, who is stepping down after three terms because of term limits, had lobbied her fellow commissioners, unsuccessfully, to put a question before voters in the fall asking them to abolish term limits. She cannot run again without sitting out a term, but her husband can.
Her husband announced his intentions at a Democratic Caucus meeting last week, according to Clapper.
“This decision was entirely his. It had nothing to do with me,” she said.
Tommy Clapper, an Aspen native, is a ski instructor at Snowmass and works in the construction industry.
In addition to Tommy Clapper, Jack Johnson, a former Aspen city councilman and current member of the county Planning and Zoning Commission, is seeking election to the District 1 seat.
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