Aspen Times Editorial: Breaking down our four local races |

Aspen Times Editorial: Breaking down our four local races

We are endorsing three incumbents in the local races in Pitkin and Eagle counties, as well as a former elected official who is returning on a county level.

The Aspen Times editorial board feels their past experiences and decisions qualify them to be retained or elected.

Our sheriff has spent the past eight years keeping county residents safe, and the incumbent commissioners have championed the community. The office of assessor has been held by Tom Isaac for nearly three decades, and for that position we find the experience favors a former commissioner and mayor eyeing a return to public service.

Pitkin County Sheriff

Joe DiSalvo vs. Walter Chi

For the past eight years, Joe DiSalvo has represented the county well as the top law enforcement official. Yes, there are there areas where he could improve. DiSalvo acknowledged his disappointment and embarrassment with inmates having sex, cellphones and illegal drugs in the jail last year. DiSalvo was upfront about his lack of oversight in the facility and made changes to correct the problems.

As a longtime resident, DiSalvo understands the importance of community and you will see him at most events and functions. He uses the office to champion causes, such as mental health, suicide awareness and veterans’ issues.

Challenger Walter Chi has focused on DiSalvo’s reactive, not proactive, stance on drugs in the schools. However, DiSalvo isn’t turning a blind eye but relies on school resource officers and others at the district to reach out to him if there are concerns. We trust he has his finger on the pulse of this community.

It should be noted that DiSalvo co-founded the Valley Marijuana Council in 2014 after Amendment 64 went into effect. We appreciate that kind of proactive approach to facilitating the safe and responsible integration of recreational marijuana.

We appreciate Chi’s role in the community as a police officer for more than two decades. We hope he uses his passionate energy for drug crimes in this campaign and translates it into action in his role as a patrol officer.

Vote for DiSalvo.

Pitkin County Commissioner

Patti Clapper vs. Rob Ittner

There is no doubt either candidate in this race would serve the community well for the next four years.

Ittner has run a solid campaign and has some good ideas about county governance and affordable housing.

But we are supporting the incumbent, Patti Clapper. Her long history serving on the board shows a commitment to community involvement.

Clapper has lived in the county for nearly 40 years. After she was term-limited, she sat out for four years and then defeated Ittner, who at the time was the incumbent, by a landslide.

She’s approachable and listens to her constituents, which creates trust between the community and county government. One of her greatest attributes is that the people she represents feel they have a voice.

And Clapper certainly knows how to use her voice. As board chair, she has been very vocal about issues such as the local affordable housing program and what she has said is a lack of a communication between the city and the county.

It should be noted that Ittner has the support of previous commissioners from when he served from 2011 to 2015.

For us, we support Clapper because the county is working at a level that the great majority of residents think is good and that reflects on the staff, but also on the current board of commissioners.

Vote for Clapper.

Pitkin County Assessor

Mick Ireland vs. Deb Bamesberger

Mick Ireland has had a role in Aspen politics on and off for decades and, as a result, has his detractors. During his time as mayor and a county commissioner, Ireland’s approach to the public were at times filled with contention.

We know that Deb Bamesberger has worked in the Assessor’s Office for nearly seven years and understands the office. But she hasn’t shown us that she understands the big picture of how property valuations impact all aspects of a community.

We believe Ireland does, given his deep understanding of the complexities of the Gallagher Amendment and how property tax valuations across the state have local impacts.

Because of his background in tax law and his work as a hearing officer for the past decade resolving property tax disputes, Ireland has the best experience.

We are supporting Ireland because he is a smart guy who can do the math — and loves doing the math — and has done a lot for the community. But we want to challenge him to be more respectful to citizens as he returns to public service.

Vote for Ireland.

Eagle County Commissioner

Jeanne McQueeney vs. Jackie Cartier

We are supporting the incumbent, Jeanne McQueeney. She does her homework, works well with her two colleagues on the board to craft insightful policies and has been a regular participant on the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s board of directors.

However, we believe McQueeney must try harder to understand her Roaring Fork Valley residents’ views on growth. It was disingenuous for her to say public sentiment was evenly divided on the Tree Farm proposal when the vast majority of the public was against the project. McQueeney has a chance to redeem herself by listening to public sentiment when The Fields project comes up for a vote.

Cartier contended during the campaign that she could better represent the Roaring Fork Valley because of her residency in Basalt. While we think it would be best that the section of Eagle County in the midvalley is represented by someone who lives here, we are not convinced she has a full understanding of the issues.

While we think McQueeney leaves something to be desired on land use issues, we believe she is the better choice.

Vote for McQueeney.

The Aspen Times editorial board consists of the publisher, editor and members of The Aspen Times staff.

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