Snowmass councilman to seek county commissioner seat
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Snowmass Village Town Councilman John Wilkinson, too, will seek election to the Pitkin County commissioner seat in District 4.
He joins former Aspen fire chief Darryl Grob in announcing a bid for the post this week. Term limits prevent incumbent Commissioner Jack Hatfield from seeking re-election in District 4, throwing the seat wide open and generating early interest from contenders.
If more than two candidates emerge in District 4, or for any commissioner seat up for election in November, a June 26 primary will take place.
The seats currently held by Commissioners Michael Owsley (District 3) and George Newman (District 5) are also up for election in November. Both incumbents have confirmed they will seek re-election.
Wilkinson, 57, served on the town’s Planning Commission before he was elected twice to the Snowmass Town Council. He was the only Planning Commission member, he said, to vote against the Base Village project. Wilkinson said he supported the concept, but not the size of what was proposed.
He will finish his second four-year term on the Town Council this year – all that term limits allow, and is looking to continue in public service on the Board of County Commissioners.
“My thinking is, I’ve got 12 years learning the process, the people, the environment. I want to keep expanding that,” he said. “I think I bring a lot of experience to the table.”
Wilkinson has been a resident of the county for 33 years, working as a commercial insurance agent for Neil-Garing Insurance (formerly Aspen Agency Insurance) – a job he would like to retain if he’s elected in order to better stay connected to the what the private sector is experiencing.
“I think it’s important to keep that perspective,” he said, seated in his Main Street office in Aspen on Monday.
Wilkinson is an avid alpine and nordic skier, and a biker. He was active in pushing for acquisition of the former Droste property by a consortium of upvalley governments and the creation of Sky Mountain Park, a collection of open space properties. He counts implementing the master plan for Sky Mountain Park among his interests.
Also a priority, he said, is pushing for expanded use of compressed natural gas as a fuel – not only for Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses, but for other fleets of vehicles, including those operated by local governments.
A fueling station is currently planned in Glenwood Springs; Wilkinson said he’d like to see one in the Aspen area, as well.
“I’d really like to see an extension of that up here,” he said. “I want to be at the forefront of having that in place.”
Wilkinson said he’s not talking about private vehicles at this point, and he doesn’t want to see natural gas extraction in environmentally sensitive areas, but he favors compressed natural gas for fleets as a domestic fuel that’s already in production regionally.
He also named expansion of the Pitkin County Library as a key issue. A member of the library board of trustees, Wilkinson said he wants to see county commissioners put a funding question for expansion of the library before voters. The library has already spent money on design work for an expansion of about 9,400 square feet, plus a significant remodeling of its existing interior space to better serve its users.
Describing himself as a “fiscally conservative Democrat” (and former Republican), Wilkinson said he will run as a Democrat in the commissioner race.
He cites a sign he saw hanging at Aspen Elementary School as guide for serving in elected office. It read: “That which is right isn’t always popular and that which is popular isn’t always right.” It’s a motto that sums up the decisions elected officials must make, he said.
Wilkinson is married and has two children – a daughter in college and a sophomore son at Aspen High School.
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Under bluebird skies with 160 acres under their boots, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders took to Aspen Mountain for opening day Wednesday.