Aspen Times Endorsement: Council, Jacober are the best commissioner candidates to help lead county
Pitkin County voters have a lot at stake in this year’s Board of County Commissioners election. With the unknowns of how COVID-19 will impact our health and economy in 2021, a critical airport infrastructure decision looming, a growing affordable housing crisis and mounting challenges to recruiting and maintaining a sustainable workforce, now is the time to elect leaders who will challenge the status quo, have a clear vision for collaboration and aren’t afraid to make tough decisions and communicate them transparently.
We believe Chris Council (District 4) and Francie Jacober (District 5) will bring the best capabilities, confidence, community interest and collaboration to the table for the next four years.
In the District 4 race, two-term incumbent Steve Child has provided an important perspective on the board and we appreciate his ranching background and responsible approach to land management and growth, but we feel that the county’s response to the pandemic has been mediocre and communication nearly non-existent. Council will roll up his sleeves and put in the work and isn’t afraid to put his solutions and ideas on the table. We know Child is a decent man with a solid reputation of having the community’s best interest in mind; we just think that Council has the energy, passion and drive to make things happen when the rubber meets the road.
Council is showing to be diplomatic yet extremely candid and would be a big asset related to communication among stakeholders regarding the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, the airport, growth and roads. As one candidate told our editorial board, “these are all things that have floated along for a few years and now are rising to the top of the water.” Throw in fighting a pandemic and that is an agenda that would challenge the best of boards.
As a self-described policy wonk with a background in finance, Council seems to listen well, does his homework and is well-versed on the nuances of the issues. His solutions-based approaches are refreshing and he has the energy and commitment to drive conversation and change at the county level.
His time serving on the APCHA board and living in employee housing has given him insight into one of Pitkin County’s most emergent problems that Child doesn’t possess. We think Council will move with confidence and purpose when it comes to improving that agency.
Child comes from a well-loved family of ranchers and has the respect of many but he has been on the board for eight years. While Child is eligible to be re-elected for a third term, we think his complacent approach to campaigning and satisfaction with how the county has handled its COVID response are reasons to elect change and Council.
In the race for District 5, which covers the downvalley and Crystal River Valley section of Pitkin County, we feel Jacober is the more approachable and relatable candidate for those whom she will represent.
It’s hard to see her challenger, Jeffrey Evans, as someone wishing to collaborate. Jacober seems more community-minded. She’s a retired teacher who wants to continue public service as a commissioner and has a genuine interest in helping others. On the other side, we get the feeling Evans wants to be paid a government salary to criticize the government. We support citizens criticizing government when it’s warranted, but we aren’t fans of electing a commissioner who already seems to have a personal agenda that isn’t necessarily in the best interest of our county.
For the record, the three commissioner seats up for election will receive an annual salary of $88,479 and benefits, according to the county.
Jacober shows she cares about the disenfranchised and underrepresented, specifically the Latino population, which should be better recognized for their contributions to the valley and its economy. She has a vision for creating a safer culture for that population and providing the support that makes them feel like valued members of our community. We think this is an important role for our county government and we support her idea that we ought to represent them better.
Evans has raised some intriguing issues, especially his idea that the county should buy 50,000 masks of the N95 variety so residents and workers can protect others but also protect themselves from the visitors. It’s an idea that should be pursued by our local governments. But his good ideas likely will be lost in his pursuit of a years-long platform to fix the entrance to Aspen, which he said he believes to be his biggest priority as commissioner. The entrance to Aspen has been a six-decade issue and there is no political will by the majority of elected officials in the city or county to address it with all of the other issues facing the community.
Jacober is a good listener, approachable, well-versed in the mid-to-lower valley issues, and has a collaborative nature. Besides, dealing with middle schoolers and their drama and angst has given her resolve in crisis management. We also appreciate Jacober’s bigger-picture view of the statewide issues that will impact our county in the future. Evans has publicly stated that he is not yet well versed on the local ballot measures or state issues by choice.
Evans is known to those in the valley for his strong stance on changing the entrance to Aspen and his “fly in the ointment” approach.
We are thankful that anyone in our county is willing to campaign for an elected seat in the middle of a pandemic. We won’t have easy times ahead, but we believe Chris Council and Francie Jacober are best suited to help us navigate whatever is ahead.
The Aspen Times editorial board is comprised of publisher Samantha Johnston, editor David Krause, reporters Rick Carroll, Scott Condon and Carolyn Sackariason and copy editor/columnist Sean Beckwith.