Lum: Derek Johnson — the stealth mayoral candidate |

Lum: Derek Johnson — the stealth mayoral candidate

Su Lum

While there’s a lot of political wrangling going on about the many mayoral candidates — those vehemently against or for Maurice Emmer, Steve Skadron and Torre going at it at Squirm Night, Adam Frisch in there fighting, L.J. left in the dust — candidate Derek Johnson slides under the radar.

I got a political postcard from Derek, which said, “Committed to our community and character — a sensible, balanced and genuine leadership style. Local business and entrepreneurial experience — focusing on the economy for the next generation of Aspen. Why Derek Johnson? Community focused, family oriented & business minded.”

Two lukewarm (or, you could say “vague”) endorsements on the back of the card, from coach Mike Sirko and Realtor Ernie Fyrwald.

To me, this mailing sums up my doubts about Derek Johnson. He’s a family guy, he lives in employee housing, he’s involved in community youth sports programs — a genuinely nice guy. He’s served four years on the City Council and now wants to make a run for mayor. Why? What can we expect if Derek is our next mayor?

You won’t get a clue from his mailings.

Johnson wasn’t a councilman who came out swinging — in the past four years, he’s maintained the lowest profile of anyone on the council. It’s difficult to determine where he stands on anything because he’s kind of in the middle — let’s think this over, let’s come back to this — and when push comes to shove and he actually has to vote, it’s not for reduced height limits in the core.

The only thing I saw him get truly excited about was the prospect of his kid getting a $5 ticket for riding a bike on the sidewalk (“I’d go ballistic!”), a reaction that scrapped the effort to protect little old ladies (me) from being smashed by errant bikers

Meanwhile, he is a key player on Aspen Skiing Co. — a member of its senior management team — not a benign, affable guy but one with a lot of power behind him. I don’t know that he’d use it, but I’m not reassured by comments such as, “We need to honor some of the past” and “We need to have more fun,” or “We need balanced growth.”

Reading between the lines, I see “We need more infill.”

And judging by the bigger-than-the-bear signs on the Hickory House, he doesn’t have a clear grasp of our sign code.

Bottom line is I don’t know where Johnson is “coming from.” I’m not looking for new leaders to guide us out of the morass, I’m looking for candidates who are most likely to try to stem the tide.

For me, those candidates are Steve Skadron, Ann Mullins and Art Daily.

The ones least likely to stem the tide are Maurice Emmer and Dwayne Romero.

Derek Johnson is kind of in the middle and may slip in and win by default.

Su Lum is a longtime local who wouldn’t run for public office for all the tea in China and admires anyone who has the guts to do it. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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