Richards endorses Jack Johnson | AspenTimes.com

Richards endorses Jack Johnson

Dear Editor:

After watching the race for the Pitkin County commissioner District 1 seat, I have decided to vote for Jack Johnson and to urge my friends and supporters to do so as well. I reached this decision because I know Jack Johnson will uphold Pitkin County values of thoughtfully managed growth, care for the needs of our residents young and old, duty to the provision of essential county services and protection of our natural environment and quality of life.

Pitkin County is 975 square miles and Jack Johnson is prepared to work for the best interest and needs of residents throughout the whole county, while his opponent, Rob Ittner, seems interested in bending county policy wherever possible solely to benefit business owners.

Mr. Ittner suggested at the Woody Creek caucus that affordable housing units should be “200 square feet smaller and have one less window” so that the occupants would have “more money to spend.” However, rental rates and sales prices for affordable housing are set based on an individual’s or family’s income, not the unit size; so smaller units would not result in more money to “spend in local bars.” More importantly, as one who has long worked to see our programs reflect quality, livability and dignity for the residents of AH, his concept speaks of a major shift away from those who are, and hope to remain, contributing members of our community for the long-haul. I have supported seasonal units at the Marolt and Burlingame MAA housing sites, but the remaining overwhelming demand is for housing suitable for a quality permanent workforce, be it ski patrollers, school teachers, middle managers or cooks.

Additionally Rob proposed that county taxpayers subsidize the employees of businesses like his, larger employers like the Aspen Skiing Co., and even multi-national chains that set up shop is Aspen. Pitkin County’s general fund is used to plow roads throughout the county, pay for our court system, sheriff’s deputies and jail, and see to the health and human service needs of our community’s residents, seniors and children. Budgets are tight and carefully allocated. To suggest diverting limited funds from these programs to business owners regardless of whether or not they have negotiated a viable space rent, have a sound business plan, offer a desirable product, manage their business well or are absentee owners strikes me as a waste of critical resources, and an absurd perversion of county governments core purpose.

Jack Johnson has principals, and is willing to stand up and take the heat for tough choices, which we clearly see from the attacks by Rob supporters Marilyn Marks and Elizabeth Milias. Jack is committed to listening to, thinking through and doing the people’s work as the first and only priority of his time. He has a track record of being willing to say no to bad projects and yes to good ones, of supporting the business community in balance with the needs of our residents, and I believe that Jack Johnson deserves your vote this November.

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Rachel E. Richards

Aspen