Roy, Owsley focus on change in county commissioners race |

Roy, Owsley focus on change in county commissioners race

Naomi Havlen

“Change” might be the key to winning the 3rd District seat on the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners. At least that’s what the two candidates vying for the post claim distinguishes them from each other.Woody Creek resident Michael Owsley is challenging incumbent Shellie Roy; both beat Republican candidate Bill Mohrman in the August primary. Roy, who is seeking her third term on the board, believes her experience is an asset. Owsley, a longtime member of the Woody Creek Caucus, said it’s time to give new leadership a chance.When asked what the main difference is between Roy and him, Owsley pointed to his strong belief in strictly controlling growth and change in the county. He also mentioned a desire to see more citizens involved in government.”I really care about the preservation of the county as it is,” Owsley said. Roy agreed this is a fundamental difference between her challenger and her, saying that she is “more open to finding ways for change that maintain the character of Pitkin County.” As an example, she pointed to the expansion of the Pitkin County Airport in order to encourage competing airlines to bring their regional jets to this area.”In Woody Creek they do not seem to want any changes at all, but I believe that in order for us to survive, we have to figure out how to deal with change without destroying who you are,” she said. “It’s a hard line to walk, but I believe if you don’t change, you die.”Owsley is critical of Roy’s support for change, especially in how the Board of County Commissioners has dealt with development.”I think the county is dying the death of a thousand cuts,” he said. “Everyone wants a tiny cut, a little nick for the benefit of their plans, and it’s very gradual, but the county is under threat of becoming more and more urbanized.”Owsley said people come to this area for “isolation, beauty, cultural and social environments” that need to be preserved; he never wants people to say, “My God, what have they done now?” He said he’s “not going to encourage change,” but if it has to happen, it has to be in the context of “Pitkin County and what Pitkin County is, so we don’t have shocks and surprises.”He said he would never want anyone to question, for example, the placement of a high-density housing complex outside the urban-growth boundary. Roy, he said, argued against the boundary in the first place.– see Election on page A8– continued from page A3″If I’m elected, the county will gain someone who has a vision for the future – where we should be going,” he said. “I’m not going to be there to mollify some developer and cut him a slice. I’m going to make sure the county can prosper environmentally, socially and culturally.”When it comes to growth, Roy said the county has worked to curtail development and has won the battle, while Owsley and the Woody Creek Caucus are still “fighting the war.””You have to have a small amount of growth,” Roy said. “We’ve held it at under 2 percent, and I think that’s fabulous. The community has to be able to count on what the laws are. Continually downzoning motivates people to develop as place-holders.”Roy said another difference between Owsley and her is a depth of knowledge and experience, serving as a commissioner the past eight years and on numerous county boards prior to her terms as commissioner. Roy said the contacts she’s made have turned her into an effective lobbyist and familiarized her with a number of state and federal agencies.”The taxpayers just spent money to train me over the past eight years, so why would they want to lose me when I know what I’m doing?” she said. “I’m at the top of my game right now.”Roy said she excels at representing the county as a whole, rather than focusing her efforts on one area, such as Owsley’s ties to Woody Creek. Owsley, on the other hand, said it’s time for voters to change direction and vote for a citizen who believes in grass-roots participation.”Shellie has criticized the Woody Creek Caucus for its actions, but grass roots has all the answers. Five people at the top don’t have all the answers; they can just act on their best instincts,” he said.Three seats on the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners are on the Nov. 2 ballot. Incumbent Jack Hatfield of the 4th District is being challenged by Cheryl Koehne, and Dorothea Farris from the 5th District is being challenged by Tom McBrayer. Naomi Havlen’s e-mail is