Kury glides toward second term as Pitkin County Commissioner

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Pitkin County Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury talks to her family at a watch party for Adam Frisch at Belly Up on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Aspen. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)

It looks like Kelly McNicholas Kury will serve another term on the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners.

Running for re-election as a Democrat, she held a commanding lead in Tuesday’s election over challenger Erin Smiddy, who has no party affiliation. With just over 50% of the ballots counted as of 9:40 p.m., Kury had received 4,182 votes to Smiddy’s 1,863 votes.

Kury ran unopposed in 2018 but still campaigned and introduced herself to voters back then. This time with Smiddy challenging her, Kury estimated she knocked on 3,000 doors in the county.

“I think I worked really hard,” she said of her re-election. “I think I connected all over the county and have built relationships in our municipalities and in unincorporated parts of Pitkin County.”

As a second-term commissioner come January, she will join Patti Clapper, who ran unopposed and also was re-elected Tuesday, along with Steve Child, Francie Jacober, and Greg Poschman.

There wasn’t much of a learning curve for Kury when she joined the BOCC, and, in 2019, she led the effort to help county-employed parents with newborns by giving them 12 weeks of paid leave. In the spring of 2020, she was aiding the county grapple with the global coronavirus pandemic, helping it get $8 million in relief funding.

Her campaign touched on issues such as revamping the county land-use code to align with its climate goals and working with the Airport Vision committee as it entertains an expansion that could include a new terminal and runway. She she was the lone BOCC member to vote against Aspen Skiing Co.’s expansion of Pandora’s and was part of the commission that approved solar farms in Woody Creek.

She also has advocated for preserving the Crystal River by earning it wild and scenic river designation, which also would keep the water local and not diverted out of state.

“That will be starting in January,” she said. “It’s been a really great conversation bringing these people together and I’m looking forward to it.”

Kury also has taken progressive positions on worker housing, saying she would like to see a program for “right-sizing” homes for individuals and families. Her campaign also focused on her experience, work ethic, and tenacity.

“I want to thank Erin,” Kury said. “I think competition is better for the community, and she caused me to be a better candidate and be more thoughtful.”

Smiddy ran on a platform of having endured the challenges of being a working local. She moved here when was 6 years old and has been in the area mostly ever since, having been a deputy and former chair of Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority.

“I’m not surprised,” she said of Kury’s apparent victory. “I knew running as an independent in Pitkin County is a risky thing, but it was worth a shot, and I hope we got the message out as far as regular citizens are concerned.”

She said she hopes the BOCC “gets more serious” about addressing the worker-housing crisis.

Kury and Smiddy showed mutual respect at candidate forums. Issues like child care, housing, and working locals was a focus of their campaigns as well.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.