Yes to Johnson, no to IRV |

Yes to Johnson, no to IRV

The race for the District 1 seat on the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners has been a bit puzzling. Because of a lack of real galvanizing issues, it’s hard for voters to determine the differences between the candidates. One candidate, Jack Johnson, says that he and Rob Ittner couldn’t be more different in their approach to county government policy, while Ittner says the two are actually similar in their views, but different in their approach to problem-solving.

We don’t know which man is correct, which is a bit frustrating. Both are intelligent and well-spoken, and both seem to truly want the job. For us, this decision comes down to what we do know about Johnson, and what we don’t know about Ittner.

Johnson has a track record as an Aspen city councilman and as a planning and zoning commissioner. He stands behind his record as a proponent of environmental protection, mass transit, affordable housing and other cornerstones of local government policy. He also makes no apologies for being a somewhat polarizing figure; many Aspenites love Johnson, and many can’t stand him.

Ittner, on the other hand, is a newcomer to politics. He stands behind his success as a businessman/restaurateur, and says he’ll bring “dynamic thinking” and a collaborative approach to county government. This sounds refreshing, and we’re all for a break from Aspen’s own brand of “Us vs. Them” politics.

But when asked for specifics on his political leanings or on certain issues, Ittner has been frustratingly vague. He had numerous chances at last week’s Squirm Night debate to stake out a firm position or show exactly where he stands – on growth and development, on making the county “more green” and other issues – but each time he resorted to generalities. (We did learn that he does not support 100 percent affordable housing mitigation, but what level of mitigation does he support?)

We often disagree with Johnson, but fundamentally we know his priorities and we know he’ll defend many of the programs and qualities that define Aspen and Pitkin County. Ittner, on the other hand, remains a bit of a mystery.

Vote for Jack Johnson for Pitkin County commissioner.

Today we’ll also tackle a ballot issue that has been somewhat murky and hard to discern. Instant runoff voting, or IRV, was chosen by Aspenites in 2007 as the way they wanted to elect their mayors and City Council members. But the system became quite controversial after the May 2009 election, owing mainly to a handful of opponents who felt the system was poorly implemented by the city of Aspen and prone to complex tabulation problems. We think there’s more smoke than fire behind the myriad allegations about IRV. But at this stage in this long-running game we opt for the restoration of Aspen’s traditional runoff system, which all voters understood and which offered a chance to know the candidates better.

Vote Yes on City of Aspen Referendum 2B to replace IRV with the traditional runoff.

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