The standout factor about Pitkin County District 5 is its inclusion of the Crystal River Valley, a full 30 miles from Aspen. When thinking about Pitkin County, Redstone is likely not the first community that comes to mind.
Which is exactly why Francie Jacober is the right fit for the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners — in addition to her professional experiences in the education, agriculture, retail and tourism sectors, Jacober will be able to authentically represent that important yet geographically isolated part of the county.
When asked during Squirm Night which issues she heard most about from voters during her campaign, Jacober gave two answers, reflecting her two would-be constituencies: for those closer to the (Aspen) roundabout, she relayed that the proposed airport expansion was the most oft-spoken issue. But, for her neighbors in the Crystal River Valley, the overwhelming majority talked to her of their support or concerns surrounding the Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail plan.
And when asked about her own thoughts on the latter, she said she needed to review the most updated plan before speaking confidently about it, although she was fluent in the expressed concerns regarding impacts on wildlife migratory patterns, setbacks on private property and the overall cost of the project.
We commend Jacober for knowing enough to know what she doesn’t yet know — and wanting to learn more. That attention to detail and open mindedness will serve her and Pitkin County well as a commissioner.
Jacober also — rightly, we believe — pointed out during Squirm Night that her 35 years in the middle school classroom has prepared her to manage personalities diplomatically while holding space for changing emotions. Again, we feel that kind of patience and compassion will be a welcome complement to the current dynamic among commissioners.
Finally, Jacober’s family history in the valley — Jacober herself is a bonafide rancher — offers her an important grounding in approaching the big-picture questions facing commissioners in the coming years. While she was able to speak about two different issues affecting two different regions in the county, Jacober wrapped up her response by identifying the unifying, more existential concern. Regardless of the specific zip code, everyone who calls Pitkin County home is deeply invested in balancing the need for continued development to accommodate communities with preserving the public lands and natural landscapes that drew many of us here in the first place.
We are confident Jacober will bring a new energy to the board while maintaining an appreciation for the longstanding culture of the valley. Her passion for issues such as tackling cost-prohibitive day care (Jacober is a mother of four and grandmother of nine), creating equitable education and housing options and responsible stewardship of public lands has earned her our hearty endorsement.
The Aspen Daily News editorial board is proudly a majority community-member board, with Samuel Bernal, Scott Freidheim and Dr. Kim Levin. David Cook, publisher, and Megan Tackett, editor, are the other two voting members, with Aspen Daily News co-owner Spencer McKnight serving as an alternate.