Times endorsements: Patti Clapper, Mick Ireland the best choices on Nov. 5 | AspenTimes.com

Times endorsements: Patti Clapper, Mick Ireland the best choices on Nov. 5

On Nov. 5 Pitkin County voters will decide on two seats up for grabs on the Board of County Commissioners. Due to unfortunate circumstances, however, there should be little doubt as to who will fill one of those seats.

Mick Ireland, who is seeking his final term on the board, is “running” against Ramon Duvernay, a political activist who has made his views known in uncompromising style through many letters to the newspapers over the years. Unfortunately, Duvernay suffered a series of strokes soon after announcing his candidacy, and is currently at his parents’ home under doctor’s orders not to return to Aspen for some time.

According to Duvernay’s spokesperson, Jeffrey Evans, it is highly unlikely Duvernay could ever serve his term if elected. Though this newspaper and Duvernay have clashed over issues in the past, we offer our heartfelt hope that he will recover soon and return to Aspen to continue stirring up the political pot.

So the clear choice here is to vote for Ireland. We haven’t always agreed with Ireland, and we expect to disagree with him over certain issues in the future. His passion has at times gotten the best of him, causing behavior not always becoming of a public servant.

But it is that passion that has made The Aspen Times a longtime supporter of Ireland (although we don’t have an “alliance” with the former Aspen Times reporter, either unholy or holy). He is, simply, the hardest working, most passionate politician in this valley.

The issues to which he is most dedicated are in the best interest of the public ? a commitment to preserving the environment, a desire to keep growth in check, and a dedication to creating and maintaining a viable employee housing program that keeps the upper valley a place where everyday people can live and work. He has continued to work toward these goals for more than nine years. There is still much work to be done, and we believe Ireland is the best candidate to continue moving that work forward.

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Vote for Mick Ireland in District 2.

That brings us to the battle over the District 1 seat between incumbent Patti Clapper and challenger Tim Mooney.

This, we admit up front, is a tough choice. Both candidates have strengths and weaknesses, which is what voters should expect in political races.

Clapper made her political name by leading the charge in the highly charged battle over the Superfund site at the base of Smuggler Mountain. It was her ability to take on that challenge that likely helped her election campaign four years ago.

However, Clapper has maintained what we believe is a rather low profile during her time on the board of commissioners. She has seemed unwilling to take a stand on many issues, almost as if she is afraid to offend anyone.

She stated this week that being a commissioner means being part of a team and that no one member can take credit for successes or failures of the board. That is true, but we also expect our elected leaders to take stands on issues they feel strongly about and fight for them until the final vote is taken.

Clapper’s feelings on several important issues also fall opposite to the positions of this newspaper. She was against a rural transportation authority, against the Highway 82 roundabout, and she tends to empathize too easily with developers. And sometimes she has trouble saying “no” to persuasive land-use consultants.

But we also have reservations about Mooney. Our biggest difficulty is with his dual roles as a real estate broker who deals in mostly high-end properties and serving on a board that makes critical land-use decisions.

We are certain there will be occasions when clearly his professional position will force him to recuse himself from important land-use decisions. And on a larger scale, any land-use approval could at some point in the future prove financially lucrative for him as a realtor.

Though we believe his heart is in the right place, and that as a board member he would make the decisions he feels are best for the community, his role as land dealer will always lend a bit of suspicion when it comes to his votes as a commissioner.

And though we generally support his positions on growth control, we are having difficulty in seeing how a proponent of growth control can work in a career that is fed in large part by new development.

In the end, we must tip our hand toward Clapper. She has shown improvement as a public official over the past four years, and we would strongly encourage her to make an even better effort in the coming years, and not to give in when the going gets tough.

Vote for Patti Clapper in District 1.