RED CLIFF, Colorado - Voters in Red Cliff will replace almost the entire town board in Tuesday's municipal election, and there's been a lot of interest.
In all, nine people are running, either for mayor or board-member positions. Of those candidates, only one - Heather Stolz - didn't respond to a request for information. Here are the candidates' answers to a brief questionnaire.
Occupation: Trainee auto mechanic/
Why do you want this job? I want an opportunity to contribute to my community's welfare. As a 10-year resident of Red Cliff, I have become familiar with many of the challenges the town faces from a resident's perspective. It has taken me a long time to see how much the town government's problems are all of our problems. I think I can help the town government tackle those challenges and make a meaningful change for all of us that live and play in Red Cliff.
What one thing does the town need to work on right now? As a small town, we face some enormous challenges. I think every resident would agree that better communication between the town government and the residents would help us all engage better in finding solutions to our problems, as well as ensure that the town as a whole moves in a direction that is best for everyone to continue to enjoy our little town.
As the economy slowly recovers, what's the best thing the town can do now to prepare for better days to come? Everyone would like to see improvements in town infrastructure and services, but we are currently crippled under what many would agree is a mountain of debt. The sooner we can get out from under that debt, the sooner the town can shift resources to tangible improvements for the town, as well as, in the longer term, lowering the financial burden on individual residents in the form of lower water rates and property taxes. The debt the town government holds is, collectively, the residents' debt. We need the residents' support in helping the town government refinance and renegotiate that debt so that we all pay less and pay it off faster. Then, we will all be well-positioned for good or bad days to come.
Occupation: Custom furniture designer and maker.
Why do you want this job? Red Cliff is a small town that lacks the cumbersome bureaucracies of larger towns, so there is an opportunity for me to effect real change and improve the everyday lives of our citizens. As mayor, I will have two objectives for our town: one, improving our relationships with our citizens and outside partners, and two, responsibly paying down our debt. I have the people skills to accomplish the first goal and as a successful businessman and former engineer, I have the necessary experience to tackle the second and biggest issue. The two are interrelated and need to be addressed simultaneously. There are no lofty plans to run for a higher office; I just want to make a difference in my community, and a small town like Red Cliff always needs people to step up and serve.
What one thing does the town need to work on right now? We have the best water in Eagle County, but the necessary capital improvements came at a cost. We are diligently paying down about $1 million in debt, but we need to do more. Our monthly water bill is among the highest in Colorado, $123, so it's tough to ask more of our residents.
We have significantly reduced our operating costs and must go further. Here is a simple example: Install battery back-ups on our plant computers, so we're not paying a technician to hit the reset button every time the power flickers. Also, common sense dictates that warming the inlet water before it enters the plant makes the filtration processes more efficient, prevents pipes from freezing and may even eliminate the need for citizens to bleed water. With $130,000 spent on the recent emergency, which is preferable, heating water or waiting for another catastrophe?
As the economy slowly recovers, what's the best thing the town can do now to prepare for better days to come? Lowering our cost of living while improving our quality of life should be our long-term priority. We need a combination of increasing property values, lowering operating costs and capitalizing on our natural resources.
We will work toward obtaining the amenities enjoyed by most municipalities, like cell service, Internet, law enforcement and fire protection. This will make Red Cliff more attractive to businesses, home buyers and our citizens.
We live in a recreational mecca and need to attract more locals and tourists to come play in our yard. We also have a thriving artist community that is discussing more and bigger future events. All ideas will be on the table, like bottling our water. We must emulate small-town success stories like Ouray and Silverton.
Occupation: Marketing coordinator for the Vail Daily.
Why do you want this job? I've been a resident and homeowner for six years, and I feel a responsibility to become more involved in the decision-making process of the community.
What one thing does the town need to work on right now? Infrastructure improvements with regard to our water system, particularly in light of our frozen water main in February. I hope it is many years before we have another winter like this, but I think we should take all possible mitigation steps while the memory is still fresh.
As the economy slowly recovers, what's the best thing the town can do now to prepare for better days to come? Red Cliff is a fantastic place to live and play. The scenery, the recreation right outside of our doors, the small-town feel; it is truly a one-of-a-kind place to call home. We need to set a positive agenda that reflects the confidence we have in our town and our community.
Occupation: Interior designer, business owner.
Why do you want this job? I've lived in Red Cliff since 2006 and think we have a great community that I would like to take more of an active role in.
What one thing does the town need to work on right now? Development of an organization that gives all of our residents a way to actively participate in improving our town, possibly modeled on or in partnership with the Minturn Community Fund.
As the economy slowly recovers, what's the best thing the town can do now to prepare for better days to come? If I am elected, one of my goals is to develop more public-based projects and to get more people involved with the community. I want these projects to preserve the character of Red Cliff and enhance its quality without altering its identity. There are a lot a small steps we can take to make Red Cliff a more attractive place to live and to visit, to stabilize home values and help out our local businesses.
Occupation: Vail ski instructor.
Why do you want this job? I have been on the Board of Trustees for four of the last six years and want to continue to work with the new board to improve town services (water and wastewater) and restructure the existing town financial obligations. I can commit the considerable time required of the town mayor.
What one thing does the town need to work on right now? Restructuring the town's existing long-term financial responsibilities.
As the economy slowly recovers, what's the best thing the town can do now to prepare for better days to come? Keep property taxes at current levels, maintain and grow existing levels of town services, aid in the promotion of existing businesses and maintain the water and wastewater systems.
Occupation: Co-owner and general manager of Mango's Mountain Grill.
Why do you want this job? As a lifelong Colorado resident, now resident and business owner in Red Cliff, I am committed to the future of this town. Red Cliff is an extremely beautiful town, rich with history and adventure, placed in one of the most accessible recreation areas in Eagle County. It is the responsibility of the town council to preserve these attributes and promote growth in the town. I believe I can make a positive difference in the community and encourage improvement throughout town - any kind of change that increases community relations, decreases debt, increases the value of the town and attracts and promotes growth.
What one thing does the town need to work on right now? Addressing the town's debt is paramount. While I do understand it is a fairly long and steep uphill battle for our town to become debt free, it is my belief that we will need to start working on our debt issue immediately. Until we are in a more stable financial position, it will be extremely difficult to encourage the community to get more involved. With the current financial strains the town is facing, we are hard pressed to allot resources toward public improvement and community events. However, these are exactly the things we need to improve the community relations and, therefore, promote growth.
As the economy slowly recovers, what's the best thing the town can do now to prepare for better days to come? Implement a long-term community-development strategy focused on making Red Cliff a more attractive place for families and business. Most important is overcoming our financial constraints. With money in the bank, we can become more attractive to future homeowners and businesses by lowering water rates, lowering property taxes, bringing reliable and affordable Internet into town and bringing back community get-together events.
Occupation: Co-owner of Eagle Street Restaurants LLC, which owns and operates Mango's Mountain Grill.
Why do you want this job? I feel that good government starts with interested citizens volunteering their time for the betterment of their community. This is a critical time in the town's future, and as a resident and business owner in Red Cliff, I can bring an important perspective to town government. I have the time to serve and I have the interest, and I feel that I can bring a new positive attitude to the town council discussions.
What one thing does the town need to work on right now? I think we need to start with the town's image. Red Cliff is a beautiful and unique place to live, with a true sense of history and community, but we need to improve the first impression to help attract growth and new citizens. I believe that starts with reviewing town regulations, enforcing the ones that make sense to help clean up the town and eliminating the ones that hamper individuals from trying to improve their personal property due to too much red tape. I would also like the town government to focus on promoting and enhancing the numerous outdoor activities that make Red Cliff a unique, desirable place to live and visit.
As the economy slowly recovers, what's the best thing the town can do now to prepare for better days to come? One of our difficulties in Red Cliff is that we have a limited town population that is faced with expensive water and a very high property tax rate. This means that we can't ask our citizens to pay more in taxes for what some would consider to be limited services. Instead, we have to sell the strengths of our community to encourage responsible growth, resulting in more businesses and citizens to broaden our tax base. We must also continue to work with our surrounding communities and governmental bodies to find grants to pay down debt incurred for our past and future needed capital improvements.
Occupation: Kitchen designer.
Why do you want this job? Duty bound. I'm hoping the miles will give me insight. I've lived in Red Cliff a long time and have not been involved. Now is the time when, perhaps, I can help with the overwhelming problems facing us.
What one thing does the town need to work on right now? Enormous debt.
As the economy slowly recovers, what's the best thing the town can do now to prepare for better days to come? If we can get a handle on the immediate problems, the future will be clearer. We have a community. We have many wonderful components to our community. We need to nurture the unique persons, natural beauty, value and sentiment that brought us to this wonderful place. It's not for everybody; but those who get it, want more.