Eagle voters can’t lose. There is nothing but good choices among the nine candidates running for four Town Council seats on this year’s ballot.
Don’t take it from us. Take it from the candidates themselves, who all said as much at a recent forum that had a collegial feel where everyone seemed to agree that the town has a good thing going and that anyone running in this year’s race would serve voters well.
That said, we urge voters to check the box for incumbent Geoffrey Grimmer in his race against Weston Gleiss for a four-year team. We also recommend Janet Bartnik, the other incumbent in the field, for a two-year term, as well as Jamie Woodworth Foral and Nick Sunday for two-year terms.
Grimmer and Bartnik were appointed to the Town Council to fill the seats of beloved locals Adam Palmer and Andy Jessen, and have carried on the vision set forth by the former council members when it comes to sustainability, smart growth and ensuring the town’s long-term viability.
That vision includes a bold initiative of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Grimmer and Bartnik have been instrumental in those sustainability efforts, which include the establishment of the Adam Palmer Fund, which will provide grants and loans to support a variety of sustainability initiatives in Eagle.
Grimmer, who has been at the forefront of the town’s sustainability push, said at the candidate forum that many carbon emission reduction efforts currently being explored have a high potential for return on investment and can save the town — and its residents — money over time. He wants the Town Council to “create a vision that pulls people,” as opposed to pushing them, and that making common-sense changes to be a more sustainable town is an effort that should unify residents.
Bartnik, who is the executive director of Mountain Recreation, has plenty of experience when it comes to shepherding public money responsibly and working collaboratively with other entities. She is focused on shoring up the town’s financial future and wants to drive solutions to some of the issues facing communities across the valley, most notably a shortage of affordable housing that has made it hard for businesses to find employees, as well as a lack of child care services.
As for the other two open seats, we liked Jamie Woodworth Foral’s take on the town needing to be proactive, not reactive, to the challenges it faces with population growth, housing and future development. She also said that the town’s staff runs the town, not the other way around, and that it’s the Town Council’s job to grow and support that staff. She said she’d like the town to hire an assistant town manager to help assist what everyone agreed is a great town manager in Brandy Reitter.
While all of the candidates said that it’s essential to maintain the small-town character and feel that has kept residents in Eagle and drawn in new ones, Sunday articulated it best when he said he wants to “keep Eagle weird.” That means improving the things that locals already love about the town while not forgetting what makes Eagle unique, whether it’s the free concerts in the town park in the summer where you might run into someone with a pig on a leash, to keeping the town’s off-beat holiday light display that has an inadvertent phallic resemblance.
And, as the operator of a company that distributes video games and jukeboxes across the Western Slope, he said he’s free of any conflicts of interest when it comes to development pressures that could erode that small-town character.
We also liked plenty of the ideas from other candidates on the ballot. Shawn Bruckman, the director of sustainability and compost operations manager at Vail Honeywagon, said two of the biggest issues facing Eagle as it grows are “parking and water” and that some recently approved developments have not aligned with Eagle’s land-use code when it comes to providing adequate parking and maintaining the flow of traffic.
Judson Haims, a longtime local, said it’s essential for the town to grow its sales tax base, but he said decisions on how the town grows would be driven by listening to the community and allowing business owners and other residents to guide the council.
Weston Gleiss suggested Eagle could welcome more light manufacturing business like the one it already has in QuietKat e-bikes to create more local jobs. He also said the town could capitalize better on its access to public land and open spaces to support new business.
Weston Arbogast, an engineer with an interest in water use and sustainability, said the town should support more diverse housing options, including more deed-restricted properties, to keep locals from leaving and entice new residents.
Sarah Parrish, a real estate agent and longtime local, also said the town needs to diversify its housing options and also supports multimodal transportation for commuters and giving already-approved residential developments the support they need to move forward quickly.
It’s hard not to like any of these ideas, and any one of these candidates would serve residents well on the council.
In our opinion, the best choices are Geoffrey Grimmer, Janet Bartnik, Jamie Woodworth Foral and Nick Sunday.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.