Tom Clapper joins Pitkin County commissioner race |

Tom Clapper joins Pitkin County commissioner race

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Tom Clapper

ASPEN – Aspen native Tom Clapper said he didn’t consult with his wife before he decided to run for the seat she currently holds as a Pitkin County commissioner. Instead, he asked his kids.

“They said, what, are you nuts?” he said.

Patti Kay-Clapper will be forced out by term limits in November, after three four-year terms as a commissioner. Tom said his interest in the District 1 seat is about stepping up to serve the community he calls home. “This is my town,” he said.

“We are not the Clintons,” Clapper added. “Patti has done a great job, but I’m not Patti. They [voters] are getting Tom Clapper. They’re not getting Patti Kay-Clapper.”

The Snowmass ski instructor and construction manager, a product of Aspen schools who also holds degrees in business and geology, said he believes county commissioners are doing a good job – one he’d like to build on.

As the man responsible for recycling efforts during the construction of the first phase of Aspen’s Burlingame Ranch housing, Clapper said he has an interest in forwarding green construction in the county. He also wants to make sure the county is doing all it can to extend the life of its landfill with its handling of construction waste and other materials.

Clapper also said he’d like to see the county look for projects other than the city’s next phase of Burlingame when it invests its housing dollars, and said he’s not yet sold on Bus Rapid Transit – the planned upgrade to Roaring Fork Transportation Authority service. He also has questions about the proposed land swap involving the Sutey Ranch and Bureau of Land Management property – a controversial deal that commissioners have been grappling with for a year.

“I’m not sold on that at all,” he said of the swap. If the land exchange goes to Congress, the county needs to be represented in Washington, D.C., Clapper said.

“What we send there might not be what comes back,” he said of the deal.

Clapper, 53, said his tenure in Aspen, as well as the knowledge his wife has accumulated during 12 years as a commissioner, will give him a leg up if he’s elected.

“That’s a bonus for the county, and me as a commissioner, going in,” he said.

A former Aspen volunteer firefighter, Clapper currently serves on the Aspen Fire District board of directors, which is also an elected post.

The District 1 race has thus far attracted two Democrats – Clapper and former Aspen City Councilman Jack Johnson, who currently serves on the county Planning and Zoning Commission.

County commissioners earn $72,500 annually.

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