Three-way race shaping up for Pitkin County commissioner seat |

Three-way race shaping up for Pitkin County commissioner seat

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Tom Clapper

ASPEN – Though one candidate remains in critical care at a Denver hospital, a three-way race is shaping up for the District 1 Pitkin County commissioner seat.

Aspen native Tom Clapper remains at University Hospital in Denver after suffering a heart attack last week, but volunteers are prepared to circulate his nomination petition to make sure Clapper’s name is on the ballot, said Roger Marolt, his campaign treasurer.

“He might be running with a limp, but he’ll be running,” Clapper’s wife, Patti, said Wednesday from Denver.

Candidates or their representatives must collect the signatures of 100 registered county voters and turn them in at the county clerk and recorder’s office between May 24 and June 4.

Jack Johnson is also seeking the District 1 seat, and Aspen resident David S. Weiss has filed as a candidate, as well.

“Jack Johnson was even gracious enough to offer to take [Clapper’s] petitions around with his,” Marolt said. “I thought that was wonderful of him.”

Three or more candidates for the post will mean county voters head to the polls for an Aug. 10 primary to whittle the District 1 field to two contenders for the November election.

Party affiliation does not matter; all registered county voters can vote for any commissioner candidate in the primary and the general election. Johnson and Clapper are both Democrats; Weiss is running as an unaffiliated candidate.

Also up for election in November is the District 2 seat. Incumbent Commissioner Rachel Richards is the only candidate who has announced an intention to run.

Weiss, who quietly filed as a candidate, is out of town this week, but said he planned to make a formal announcement about his candidacy after he returns to town late next week.

A 30-year Aspen resident, Weiss said he owns Thumbs Up Properties, doing work in property management and as a landscape contractor. He was previously a trails supervisor for Pitkin County, worked for the Aspen Water Department for a time and drove a bus for the town of Snowmass Village last winter, he said. Weiss built a home at Smuggler Park, where the Clappers also reside, and calls the Clappers friends.

“I’ve known them forever,” he said.

“I just want to get more involved,” Weiss said of his bid for public office. “I’ve been here a long time. I see some things that are great, some things that are not so great.”

Johnson is a former Aspen city councilman, while Clapper serves on the Aspen Fire District board of directors.

Patti Kay-Clapper, the incumbent commissioner in District 1, cannot seek re-election to the seat because of term limits.

Her fellow commissioners met without her this week and agreed to allocate $500 from the county’s discretionary fund to an assistance fund for the Clapper family that has been set up at Alpine Bank.

Patti was back in Aspen Monday to take care of some affairs at home, and returned to her husband’s bedside on Tuesday. Tom was to have surgery Wednesday; doctors planned to perform a temporary tracheotomy and insert a feeding tube, but the procedure was postponed until Thursday, she said.

Tom, 53, has been kept in a medically induced coma, but his vital signs are stable, Patti said. “He opens his eyes when we talk to him,” she said. “He’s getting through this.”

Patti directed Aspenites who want to help to contact the fire department.

“I’m getting swamped with calls from people who want to do something,” she said.

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