Pitkin County races take shape for November
Three of the five Pitkin County offices up for election in November will be contested, according to the county clerk’s office.
Those who wanted to be on the November ballot had until 4:30 p.m. Friday to turn in petitions containing the signatures of 100 registered Pitkin County voters.
As of that deadline, the races for assessor, sheriff and one of the open seats on the county commission will feature two candidates, said Janice Vos Caudill, Pitkin County Clerk. The races for clerk and the second county commissioner seat up for grabs this November will only see one candidate each, she said.
Because none of the races will feature more than two candidates, the county won’t figure into the June 26 primary ballot, where the two top vote-getters would have been determined for the general election, Vos Caudill said.
The uncontested races — Vos Caudill will run again for clerk and Kelly McNicholas Kury will run for the commission’s second district seat now occupied by Rachel Richards — feature women who work in the same office.
Richards, a former Aspen mayor, is not running again because she is term limited after serving three four-year terms on the board.
McNicholas Kury is the election manager for the Pitkin County Elections Department of the clerk’s office, and Vos Caudill, as clerk, is her boss. They had worked out a plan to deal with the election if either had faced an opponent, though that won’t be necessary now, Vos Caudill said.
Still, Vos Caudill vetted McNicholas Kury’s petition to make sure it contained the requisite number of registered voters, while McNicholas Kury did the same for Vos Caudill’s petition, she said. Both petitions were confirmed and both women’s names will appear on the ballot, said Vos Caudill, who is running for her third four-year term as clerk.
The first district seat for county commissioner, now held by Patti Clapper, will offer a rematch of the 2014 campaign for the same seat. At that time, Clapper ran against incumbent Commissioner Rob Ittner and won with 56.3 percent of the vote to Ittner’s 43.7 percent.
Clapper held the same seat for three terms from 1999 to 2010, when she was forced to retire because of term limits. She said Friday that she’s running again because she’s proud of Pitkin County’s government and enjoys working for it.
“I’m running because I love it,” Clapper said. “I love the job. People will think I’m crazy for saying that.”
Ittner said he thinks a businessman like himself — he owns Rustique Bistro and the Cooking School of Aspen — should be represented on the board. He also said his previous track record on the board indicates he’s a good person to serve on the five-person board.
“I think I did a good job the first time, and I loved the involvement with the community,” Ittner said.
The new Pitkin County commissioners will be paid $84,665 a year, while the county clerk will be paid $99,701, said Pat Bingham, Pitkin County spokeswoman.
The Pitkin County sheriff’s race will pit incumbent Joe DiSalvo, running for his third term, against longtime Aspen Police Officer Walter Chi.
As of press time Friday, the signatures on both DiSalvo’s petition and Chi’s petition had been verified and both names will appear on the ballot, Vos Caudill said.
DiSalvo, who served as undersheriff to former Sheriff Bob Braudis for 12 years, said he’s running again partially because he wants to continue the progressive legacy established by Braudis and Dick Kienast before him.
“I still enjoy my job,” he said Friday. “I really enjoy the legacy this office has and I’d like to keep it intact.”
Beyond that, DiSalvo said there are a few things he’d still like to do as sheriff.
“I have some unfinished business here,” he said. “I’d like to work to get mentally ill people out of the jail. I’d like to make some creative inroads on that in the next few years.”
Chi, an Aspen police officer for nearly 26 years, said he’s running for a simple reason.
“Because I can do a better job,” he said.
Chi said DiSalvo has driven the city police department and the county sheriff’s office apart during his tenure in office, and Chi wants to bring them closer.
He also said he and others in town want to see laws enforced that haven’t been traditionally emphasized. Asked specifically what laws he was talking about, Chi cited concerns about drugs in school.
“People want some more responsibility,” Chi said. “Town has changed.”
The sheriff’s job pays $123,864, Bingham said.
The final contested race is for Pitkin County assessor.
Tom Isaac has held the seat for the past 28 years, but he is retiring after health issues in 2016 forced him into a sustained recovery period.
Former Aspen mayor and Pitkin County commissioner Mick Ireland has already submitted enough signatures to appear on the ballot for assessor, said Vos Caudill. Running against him will be a longtime member of the assessor staff, Deb Bamesberger, who also submitted enough signatures to appear on the ballot, she said.
The assessor is paid $99,701, Bingham said.
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Aspen Sister Cities members dedicated a plaque in Sister Cities Plaza to Don Sheeley, who served as president of the organization from 1998 until his death in 2017.