Rancher Steve Child joins commissioner race | AspenTimes.com

Rancher Steve Child joins commissioner race

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Steve Child

ASPEN – Capitol Creek rancher Steve Child has joined the race for Pitkin County commissioner in District 4, ensuring a primary election for the seat to be vacated by incumbent Jack Hatfield.

With more than two candidates seeking the post, a primary will take place June 26 to narrow the field to two candidates for the November ballot. Also vying for the District 4 seat (so far) are Snowmass Village Town Councilman John Wilkinson and former Aspen Fire Chief Darryl Grob, a Snowmass Village resident.

Child, 63, is a longtime resident of the county and the son of former County Commissioner Bob Child. He is making his first run for public office.

“I was brought up being taught that public service is an important thing to do,” Child said.

Child was 13 years old when his family bought the ranch in 1961 and moved from Denver to the Capitol Creek area of the midvalley. He is a cattle rancher but has held down a host of other jobs and currently works as a full-time shuttle bus driver in Snowmass Village and part time as a cross country ski instructor at the Snowmass Cross Country Center.

He also has taught and worked as a bus driver for the Roaring Fork School District and was previously a snowcat operator and member of the snowmaking crew at Snowmass.

Child’s community service includes chairing the Land Use Advisory Subcommittee of the Snowmass/Capitol Creek Caucus board and the county’s Weed Advisory Board and membership on the Agricultural Building Review Board and on the board of the former Aspen Wilderness Workshop, now Wilderness Workshop.

Child said he is a Democrat and will seek the endorsement of the county’s Democratic Party but envisions occasions when he would take a conservative stance as a commissioner.

His passions include advocacy for the “wise stewardship” of public lands, the preservation of working agricultural lands and a transition to alternative energy sources.

“I’m encouraged by the slow-food movement and finding alternative crops and methods for growing things here in the county,” Child said.

On his ranch, Child said he has studied the potential for a hydroelectric facility on Capitol Creek and found it is feasible. He opposes gas drilling in the Thompson Divide area and the development of oil shale, but in a position paper, said he favors Aspen’s plan to develop a hydroelectric plant on Castle Creek – with appropriate environmental safeguards, and the development of hydrogen technology as a fuel source.

The Child property, he said, was the first large ranch in the upper valley to be placed under a conservation easement – a move initiated by Bob Child. The 1,500-acre ranch is the subject of a conservation deal with Pitkin County Open Space and Trails and Aspen Valley Land Trust; the second half of the arrangement is due to be completed in October. Child and his five siblings each retain property for a house.

Child said his siblings are ready to put the ranch up for sale, which could mean the end of the cattle operation.

Child has set up a candidate committee, Steve Child for Commissioner, and said his father’s stint as a commissioner has helped prepare him for the job.

“I know how hard my dad worked as a commissioner,” he said. “I’m coming in knowing it’s a huge commitment.”

Three commissioner seats are up for election in November. In addition to the District 4 post, the seats currently held by Commissioners Michael Owsley (District 3) and George Newman (District 5) are also up for election. Both incumbents have confirmed they will seek re-election and have established candidate committees.


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