VAIL — Jenn Bruno often has a front-row seat for the multitude of events Vail hosts these days. For the past few years, she also helped guide the town’s events policy.
That participation in the town’s Commission on Special Events has led Bruno to believe she can be a valuable member of the Vail Town Council.
“I see how my time on the (Commission) has made a difference,” she said. “I feel more engaged in the process.”
That involvement in town business, as well as her own business and private life, keeps Bruno busy. She and her husband, Luca Bruno, own a pair of clothing stores in Vail Village, one on Meadow Drive, the other at Solaris. The couple also has a pair of kids enrolled at Red Sandstone Elementary School.
While the town government and the school are separate, Bruno said the school is “incredibly important” to the town.
“Having a school helps solidify the community,” Bruno said. “Families are important — they keep us connected to the next generation ... A strong school helps property values, and shows visitors we’re a real community.”
Keeping families in town
But keeping that school open will require kids. And that means families have to live in Vail, Bruno said. Keeping families in town is hard — “It’s easier to live downvalley,” she said — but Vail has to be able to convince people that life in the heart of the valley’s resort environment is worth it.
Bruno has felt the lure of downvalley life, but has stayed in Vail since she arrived 20 years ago from her home state of New York. Just like so many before and after her, Bruno “came for a year,” and wound up staying. Since coming to town, she’s worked at the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum, as well as for Eclipse, a sports marketing and TV production company.
During her time at the ski museum, Bruno was able ski with several 10th Mountain Division veterans while they were still able to make good time going downhill. One of those vets was Vail co-founder Pete Seibert.
“I loved learning about Vail from him,” Bruno said. “To the end, his passion for skiing never ended.”
Bruno is one of many who have picked up that passion while living in Vail.
“I love the town, the passion for the lifestyle — even on a cold, wet October morning, it’s still the best place to be.”
A desire to keep Vail as that “best place” helped drive Bruno’s decision to run for office. But other factors include putting someone from the town’s business community on the council.
“I bring a fresh, new perspective,” she said. “It’s important to have someone in the business community and with a family (on council). I understand how important it is to balance business and community.”
While Bruno thinks the council could use an injection of fresh ideas, she also said the council has done a good job the past few years of helping the town get through the national economic slump.
Events are a significant reason the town has posted record sales tax collections for more than 18 straight months. And, Bruno said, a healthy economy helps everyone.
“It’s a circle,” she said. “If one sector benefits, others do, too.”
Room for improvement
But there’s always room for improvement. Bruno was quick to list some of the issues she believes the town council should be putting more energy into in the coming months and years.
“The focus has been on the economy, and that’s been good,” she said. “But we need to re-focus on housing and parking.”
With two stores in the village, parking is an issue close to Bruno’s heart. She said she knows a lot of downvalley residents who don’t come to town because it’s difficult to park.
Bruno’s believes the EverVail project west of Lionshead will be built, and will provide significant relief for the town’s parking problems. She also said she understands how hard it is to bring new parking to town. Asked what she’d do if she could wave a magic wand, Bruno said she’d expand the town’s existing parking structures.
“We want to make sure our guests have the best experience possible,” she said. “Walking on the Frontage Road is not a great experience.”
Given the importance of getting people into town, and then around, Bruno said it may be time to look into whether bus schedules could be juggled to better serve tourists and guests.
“It’s all a big job,” she said. “But I have the time, the experience and the people skills to get things done.”
“It’s important to have someone in the business community and with a family (on council). I understand how important it is to balance business and community.”
Vail Town Council candidate