Eagle Town Board Candidates

Paul Witt

Occupation: Owner, Witt Communications, Inc., a public relations consulting firm

What made you decide to run for Eagle Town Board?

Serving on the town board is a way for me to give back, and to help ensure that Eagle remains the place where we all want to live and raise our families.

What do you think is the most important issue facing Eagle in the next five years?

We need to be certain that growth, in both our residential and business communities, is thoughtfully guided so that Eagle is positioned for success.

Cite at least one thing you think the town has done well and one thing the town needs to do better:

The town has managed its finances very well during the economic downturn. We are playing too much catch-up on infrastructure, however, and need to focus more on that.

Eagle operates on a tight budget. How can the town increase its revenues without burdening its taxpayers?

Sales tax is our lifeblood. We need to continue to market existing Eagle businesses and amenities, and encourage new and area-unique businesses to locate here to generate reliable revenue streams

Communities often talk about “economic development.” What does that phrase mean to you and what does it mean for Eagle?

It means supporting businesses we have, and filling needs that haven’t been met yet. It cannot be done at the expense of our community character, however; it must fit with who we are.

Additional comments:

We will always face important issues and decisions for Eagle. I will bring a reasonable and thoughtful perspective to the board, and will work to enhance our community for everyone’s benefit.

Andy Jessen

Occupation: Co-owner of Bonfire Brewing

What made you decide to run for Eagle Town Board? Most importantly, a drive to maintain and enhance the momentum Eagle has gained in recent years with its focus on marketing and enhanced outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. Secondly, a sense of civic responsibility, and finally, a desire to take an active role in the conversation regarding the future of our community.

What do you think is the most important issue facing Eagle in the next five years? Sustainable economic activity. Government and business must collaborate to create the right mix of business activity and opportunity so that residents can enjoy a vibrant community, and the town’s finances can remain stable.

Cite at least one thing you think the town has done well and one thing the town needs to do better: In recent years, the town has made great strides in marketing Eagle as a destination for outdoor recreation. Marketing dollars generated by the hotel bed tax are also being used effectively, as new events are added to the calendar regularly, and existing ones are growing. These are two areas I think an energetic board can capitalize on and continue to grow.

Eagle operates on a tight budget. How can the town increase its revenues without burdening its taxpayers? The town relies almost solely on sales tax for its revenue. The only sure-fire way to increase sales tax revenue is to generate more economic activity within the town boundaries. Doing so requires a long-term vision that makes Eagle accessible to new business, and accommodating to existing business.

Communities often talk about “economic development.” What does that phrase mean to you and what does it mean for Eagle? For me, it means creating a business community hospitable to new and growing businesses. Eagle must cement a reputation for innovation and creativity in all that it does. Doing so will attract strong entrepreneurs and encourage our existing ones to reinvest in the community.

Additional comments: Get out and vote. The decisions and policies made by your board of trustees over the next few years will shape the physical and economic landscape of Eagle for the next decade and beyond. An energetic, business-minded board is a big part of what is necessary to maintain Eagle’s momentum.

Gladdie Funke

Occupation: Business Consultant

What made you decide to run for Eagle Town Board? As a community organizer and small business professional, I believe I can contribute fresh perspective, energy and ideas to help shape the future of Eagle.

What do you think is the most important issue facing Eagle in the next five years? In terms of Eagle’s future growth and development, I think we need more financial planning, a capital expenditure study and financial reserves. We need to begin funding now to afford significant projects on the horizon.

Cite at least one thing you think the town has done well and one thing the town needs to do better? The significant marketing efforts Eagle has put forth in the area of economic development. We have come a long way but we’re not there yet. More growth may be found with a balance between government and fostering entrepreneurship.

Eagle operates on a tight budget. How can the town increase its revenues without burdening its taxpayers? Increased retail sales and housing sales are necessary. Tourist attraction, more population (critical mass) and a vibrant and thriving business environment will attract new business and new sales. We can’t have one without the other.

Communities often talk about “economic development.” What does that phrase mean to you and what does it mean for Eagle? Identity and branding — Who do we want to attract? Where from? What is our brand? How do we attract visitors from I-70 and surrounding communities? Successful businesses will create new jobs and increased sales tax revenues will follow.

Additional comments: Kudos to town of Eagle for securing the Brush Creek water rights from the Haymeadow Development

Doug Seabury

Occupation: Co-owner of Everyday Outfitters and Access Real Estate of Colorado

What made you decide to run for Eagle Town Board? I have lived in Eagle for 10-plus years and have attended many town meetings. I feel that I have significant knowledge of the town needs, what it takes to get those needs met and believe I can make a difference.

What do you think is the most important issue facing Eagle in the next five years? Well planned growth, sustainability of infrastructure, and sales tax revenue are the critical issues for Eagle’s future.

Cite at least one thing you think the town has done well and one thing the town needs to do better: The town has done a great job with marketing recently. I think the events and press have been great. I believe the town needs to communicate more openly and be more open to citizen input.

Eagle operates on a tight budget. How can the town increase its revenues without burdening its taxpayers? The town must look at every sales tax revenue opportunity and pursue them to the fullest. I’m a firm believer that “Eagle is Open for Business” and we have to incentivize businesses and developers to come and do business in Eagle.

Communities often talk about “economic development.” What does that phrase mean to you and what does it mean for Eagle? By definition, “economic development” is the sustained, concerted actions of policy makers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area. Simply put, Eagle needs more business growth.

Kraige Kinney

Occupation: Lieutenant with Vail Fire and Emergency Services

What made you decide to run for Eagle Town Board? My two daughters. They are off to college, and I want to be a part of the team ensuring that Eagle remains a place where they both would like to live and be able to find work.

What do you think is the most important issue facing Eagle in the next five years? The economy. We should focus on improving the business climate so the town will receive more revenue that can help improve and expand on public infrastructure (open space, water treatment plant, roadway maintenance, etc.).

Cite at least one thing you think the town has done well and one thing the town needs to do better: The town of Eagle has secured senior water rights to meet long term needs. The town needs to do a better job supporting and promoting local businesses while increasing the opportunity for new businesses to open and be viable.

Eagle operates on a tight budget. How can the town increase its revenues without burdening its taxpayers? Bring in more multi-day events which fill hotel rooms and restaurants, such as the recent hockey tournament. Utilize our existing amenities to promote recreation and the positive aspects of our community.

Communities often talk about “economic development.” What does that phrase mean to you and what does it mean for Eagle? The town should work jointly with the Chamber of Commerce and the business community to continue to promote Eagle, using incentives such as reduced water, sewer and business fees. Effort should be made to encourage businesses that complement our existing retail mix while providing more jobs.

Additional comments: I support Ballot Question 1 which provides a change allowing the open space tax to be applied to amenities that benefit our community.

Luis Benitez

Occupation: Talent Management at Vail Resorts

What made you decide to run for Eagle Town Board? Becoming friends with many small business owners and leaders in our community, I heard a distinct theme. Eagle is the next great Outdoor Town in Colorado. Given my history with Outward Bound and my passion for service and stewardship, I was excited by the opportunity to potentially serve.

What do you think is the most important issue facing Eagle in the next five years? Strategic Growth. Growth and change are coming, that part is inevitable. Where our biggest challenge and opportunity emerges is in the strategic planning and implementation of what we want our town to be known for and how we will go about implementing that vision.

Cite at least one thing you think the town has done well and one thing the town needs to do better: Eagle and the current board have led a solid effort to preserve all the amazing things that probably brought most of us to town in the first place. The opportunity now rests with finding a way to honor our history while encouraging strategic growth.

Eagle operates on a tight budget. How can the town increase its revenues without burdening the taxpayers? Utilization of our natural resources is a key component for increasing revenue. The efforts in the mountain biking community have been a strong example of what is possible. We need to start exploring what we can do with our river access, as well as our amazing town park. Festivals are an excellent way to highlight our town, and to keep people coming back.

Communities often talk about “economic development.” What does that phrase mean to you and what does it mean for Eagle? Economic Development means being willing to embrace change. It comes with its own set of questions, challenges, and opportunities. To drive business back to our community we have to be willing to be a community. Choose getting your morning coffee here. Come to dinner back in Eagle. Come to town meetings, share your suggestions, and be a part of the change you want to see happen.

Stephen Richards

Occupation: Retired Architect

What made you decide to run for Eagle Town Board? I have always tried to pull my own weight and be active in our community. Being on the board has been one of my ways to do that. I enjoyed the previous eight years on the board and would like to participate again.

What do you think is the most important issue facing Eagle in the next five years? The most important issue will be traffic upgrades to Grand Ave. and the completion of the Brush Creek extension. Secondary and continuously the town needs to pursue sales tax revenue.

Cite at least one thing you think the town has done well and one thing the town needs to do better? One thing done well was the Broadway streetscape. I was also on the committee to keep the town hall downtown. One thing to do better is to work with the business owners to help develop and promote events to draw more people in to shop.

Eagle operates on a tight budget. How can the town increase its revenues without burdening its taxpayers? I believe the town will always be dependent on sales tax, so promoting business should be top priority.

Communities often talk about “economic development.” What does that phrase mean to you and what does it mean for Eagle? Economic development means that we need to grow the businesses within the town and try to attract new ones. Foremost would be helping existing business whenever we can. Their success will be what draws more business.

Additional comments: I have served before on the board, so I know the demands of the job and the time commitment it entails. I moved to Eagle in 1980 and opened my own architectural practice in 1985. My experience bringing projects before the town gives me a business perspective to government and also a knowledge of its rules.


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The VailDaily Updated Mar 26, 2014 10:15AM Published Mar 26, 2014 10:15AM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.