Young joins race for Pitkin County commissioner |

Young joins race for Pitkin County commissioner

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
John Young

ASPEN – John Young, a former Snowmass Village town manager who also has plenty of job experience in Pitkin County as well as in land-use and affordable-housing consulting, is the fourth candidate to announce a bid for the county commissioner seat in District 4.

Young, 60, lost to Jack Hatfield in the 2000 election but said he’s ready to take another stab at the post. Hatfield is finishing his third and final term as the District 4 commissioner; term limits don’t allow him to seek another successive term.

“I really hated to lose to Jack, but I think he’s done a fine job, and I never felt the need to run against him,” Young said Wednesday in announcing his candidacy. “Now it’s a fresh start, and I’m ready to take another go at it.”

The Old Snowmass resident joins a field of contenders that includes Capitol Creek rancher Steve Child, former Aspen Fire Chief Darryl Grob and Snowmass Village Town Councilman John Wilkinson. Grob and Wilkinson are both residents of Snowmass Village.

Candidates have until April 20 to file nomination petitions; a June 26 primary will narrow the field to two candidates for the November ballot.

Young said he’s satisfied with the work the Board of County Commissioners does and suspects most county residents are, too, noting that no opponents have stepped up to challenge incumbents Michael Owsley and George Newman, whose seats are also up for election in November.

But, Young said, a resume that includes positions in and out of government and the resort industry gives him a wealth of experience that would lend itself to the job of county commissioner.

Young was the first town manager in Snowmass Village, serving in that role for nine years. Before that, he was trails director, assistant airport manager, and road and bridge director, all with Pitkin County. He also shepherded a previous expansion project at Aspen Valley Hospital though the government review process and acted as the hospital’s representative during construction. And Young spent four years as the executive director of the resort association at The Canyons ski resort in Park City, Utah. In addition, he cites work as an affordable-housing consultant to various ski towns and said he and a business partner currently have a housing proposal before Tusayan, Ariz., a town on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

In a written position statement, Young said potential improvements at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport collectively constitute the most important project commissioners will oversee in the coming years. He said the airport is in need of major upgrades and said his previous airport and construction management experience will help him ensure that work is done on time, on budget and with a minimum of disruption.

“We will need to be fiscally responsible in each of the areas of improvement being considered to build the right airport for our county, not to overbuild this complex just because there are federal funds available,” Young wrote.

He also contends that there is a continued need for additional housing for workers. He said he will fight to protect local water resources, including Thompson Creek, which is threatened by energy development. And he proposes eliminating building-permit fees for energy upgrades of less than $250,000 to help stimulate the building industry.

Young currently serves in an elected post – on the Basalt and Rural Fire Protection District board of directors – and called local government the best place to make a difference through elected service.

“I’ve always had a strong interest in local government,” he said. “It just is something that really appeals to me. I think local government is probably the most important government in the way it touches our everyday lives.”

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