Incumbents fall in Aspen council election
ASPEN, Colorado ” Aspen voters overhauled the City Council Tuesday by replacing two incumbents with challengers.
The town replaced its old Johnson with a new, younger Johnson. Incumbent Jack Johnson was tossed out and replaced by businessman Derek Johnson, who collected the most first- and second-place votes.
A familiar face in Aspen politics, Torre, took the other council spot, which had been held by incumbent Jackie Kasabach.
Nine candidates were in the race for two council seats. Four candidates made the first cut in Aspen’s new instant runoff voting system. Derek Johnson and Torre topped Jack Johnson and Michael Behrendt in the instant runoff tabulations in a process that had most observers scratching their heads.
Council candidate Michael Wampler was soundly defeated but didn’t take the loss all that hard. Some candidates in the race will wake up Wednesday after getting defeated and ask themselves what they will do. “If I lose the election, I’m going to wake up in the morning, kiss my girlfriend and go to work,” Wampler said as the results were coming in.
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Derek Johnson said watching the election results with friends at his house was “an emotional roller coaster.” Johnson, who works in the Aspen Skiing Co.’s retail operations, said he felt he did as much as possible in the campaign, but wasn’t certain what would happen.
“I’m pretty sure I took five years off the back end of my life,” Johnson said. “We did everything we could possibly do in the campaign process. I did my homework on what it meant to be on council. I never did my homework on what it meant to be in the race. It’s a buster.”
Now, he’s eager to get to work on the council. “The priority in these economic times is the budget, making sure we’re being smart and responsible and focused on the upper-level issues,” Johnson said.
Torre returns to a council position he held from 2003-07. The sound engineer and tennis pro ran for mayor against Mick Ireland and lost in 2007. That old election loss won’t hinder Torre’s ability to work with the mayor, he said.
“Can I work with the council? That’s what I live for. Of course. I can work with everybody,” he said.
Torre said he and Derek Johnson had some different positions in the campaign, particularly on the Lift 1A development, but he looks forward to working with him on “what is best for Aspen.”
Torre said the economy has hurt programs “that we cherish so much here in Aspen,” such as the affordable housing program. He said he will introduce ideas, such as using a free-market component, to shore up the affordable housing program.
Torre also wants to solidify Aspen’s standing as an environmental leader. “We will continue to pusher harder than anyone else to resolve the environmental crisis that could be in front of us,” he said.