Vail Daily column: A vote is still an option
Ryan Summerlin March 14, 2014
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.
A voter “initiative election” to stop the golf clubhouse project remains an option. According to research conducted by critics of the project, the redevelopment of the clubhouse can still be brought back before the voters. There are those who believe that the town, when it first brought the issue of funding before the voters, was not sufficiently transparent in articulating the full scope and consequences of the golf clubhouse redevelopment proposal. The town of Vail’s decision with respect to the redevelopment proposal could be overturned through an “initiative election.” According to the Town Charter, an initiative election requires at least 15 percent (639) of those registered to vote (4,257) in the last town regular election (November) to sign a petition that contains the exact language to be placed on the ballot.
‘Spill Over’ Effect
The Vail Recreation District will hold its board of directors election in May. The controversy surrounding the redevelopment of the golf clubhouse may also have a “spill over” effect in the upcoming Vail Recreation District board of directors election to be held on May 6. The Vail Recreation District manages the golf course and clubhouse under a management lease from the town of Vail, which owns the clubhouse and the land on which the golf course is located.
The VRD is run by a five-member board of directors elected by Colorado registered voters who reside in or own taxable real or personal property within the district. Spouses or civil union partners of owners of taxable real or personal property within the VRD are also eligible to vote as long as they are registered to vote in Colorado. The district’s boundary encompasses the area from East Vail to the Vail town boundary on the west, near Dowd Junction. A considerable number of those eligible to vote in the VRD election are from the Denver metropolitan area (Front Range).
However, typically voter turnout is low, both from local residents and those eligible from throughout the state. Also, typically many choose to vote by absentee ballot. But this year to vote by absentee ballot in the VRD election, each voter must submit an application for absentee ballot to the district’s designated election official; there is no automatic “mail-in ballot” form sent to all voters as will be done for the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District election this year. It remains to be seen whether the golf course clubhouse issues and related disputes will cause a larger voter turnout.
The Vail Homeowners Association urges that the foregoing electioneering dispute surrounding the Vail Town Council election last fall is not repeated in the upcoming VRD, ERWSD or any future town of Vail election. Those engaged in political activities need to respect the Colorado election laws. These laws create a firewall that protects the integrity of the designated election official from being, wittingly or not, drawn into the political process by elected officials, governmental staff or electoral opponents. It is the goal of the association to encourage transparent and fairly conducted elections on behalf of all that are eligible to cast a ballot in fulfillment of their democratic obligation.