Guest commentary: District 4 challenger says it’s time for a change | AspenTimes.com
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Guest commentary: District 4 challenger says it’s time for a change

Chris Council
Guest commentary
Pitkin County District 4 candidate Chris Council at Squirm Night on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Dear neighbors,

Your vote for county commissioner will impact all aspects of our lives and community for decades to come. We need to elect new leaders who are informed and fully understand the issues, are representative of our community, communicate clearly and effectively with the public, offer creative ideas and are willing to act with bold decision.

I have been fortunate to call Pitkin County my home for the past 10 Snowmass Balloon Festivals. I initially moved to the valley to work as a photojournalist for the Aspen Daily News and eventually moved on to owning my own commercial photography business.

I have spent more than two decades involved in housing issues, most recently as a former APCHA board member. I will always be a recovering CPA (certified public accountant) — my financial and business experience will allow me to hit the ground running and to be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars.

Although I am running in District 4, it’s important to recognize the commissioner election is “at-large,” so all voters in Pitkin County will have the opportunity to cast a vote for me. Once elected, commissioners represent the interests of all voters in the county.

Here are the key components of my platform:

­COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges. If I am elected, my priorities will be to provide the public with clear and consistent communication and to pursue a robust testing strategy so we can reopen our economy, our schools and our community. Other communities around the country are addressing testing in innovative ways and there is no excuse for Pitkin County not being a leader in this area.

­We need to focus on smart growth policies in order to protect our environment, our economy and our community values. Recent down-zoning discussions, if enacted, will cause incalculable economic harm. We can still achieve our climate goals through net-zero building practices without draconian zoning changes. It is imperative that our elected officials lead the way in policy initiatives and look to county staff for implementation, not the other way around.

Decisions, and not just on growth management, need to be made transparently and with public engagement. My opponent recently suggested that a vote be held by year’s end to reduce home sizes from 5,750 to 3,250 square feet — simply as a capstone for a fellow commissioner who is being termed out — but then reversed course after public outcry.

Our affordable housing program is our community’s most important asset. We need to ensure its long-term sustainability through fixing the governance structure of APCHA and creating, and achieving, clear strategic goals for the organization. This includes addressing capital reserve shortfalls and pursuing a regional approach to affordable housing. My opponent had an opportunity two years ago to rectify some of these challenges; however, he failed to fully engage in the process to tackle these fundamental issues and voted to essentially revert the organization to its ineffective model from decades prior.

Pitkin County has the highest health insurance premiums in the U.S. and the highest rate of uninsured individuals in Colorado. We need to work collaboratively to address these issues. During my opponent’s eight-year tenure, the Valley Health Alliance has been the county’s solution toward solving our health insurance crisis; unfortunately he has not made this a priority and has not been actively involved with the VHA leadership.

I am asking for your support and your vote. I will work tirelessly as a public servant for the future of our community. Please visit my website to learn more: http://www.chris4pitkin.com.

Editor’s note: The Aspen Times has offered each candidate a guest column of 600 words or less. Chris Council is the challenger in the District 4 Pitkin County commissioner race.


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