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Our View: No time to be messing with fire

Given everything else we’ve had to deal with in 2020, the last thing Eagle County needs right now is a wildfire.

And, yet, during the last few weeks, as it has gotten hotter, and drier, and winds have picked up, reports of unattended fires on public lands continue to trickle in.

The Vail Fire Department’s wildland fire specialist told the Vail Daily this week that the number of unattended fires reported around the area is about normal for a summer.

But don’t confuse normal with acceptable.

 “There shouldn’t be any,” Paul Cada said.

In fact, there shouldn’t be any fires, period, on public lands right now, unless you purchased a campsite and you’re having your campfire in established campgrounds.

With Eagle County in Stage 1 fire restrictions, campfires are banned everywhere else.

That obviously isn’t happening. A massive, smoldering stump over the weekend drew crews from three local fire agencies up Tigiwon Road outside of Minturn, while a Gypsum resident found another deserted, illegal campfire, still smoldering, while riding the Spring Creek and Easy Rider trails in Gypsum. It’s the third illegal fire — either smoldering or still burning — that this resident said he’s found this year.

Yes, the massive amount of trash — which filled up a whole truck bed — left behind in Gypsum by what appears to be local teenagers is frustrating and disappointing, but the fact that a fire was left unattended is more troubling. 

Just imagine if a hot ember was picked up by the wind and set off a wildfire like the one that raged in the Basalt area in 2018 when conditions were nearly identical to right now. 

That would be a life-altering event for those responsible for starting the blaze.

Just ask Richard Miller and Allison Marcus, who were convicted of starting the Lake Christine Fire, which destroyed three homes, burned more than 12,500 acres, killed animals and impacted thousands of Roaring Fork Valley residents due to evacuations and months-long poor air quality. 

Each received a sentence of 45 days in jail, 1,500 hours of use public service, $100,000 in restitution and five years of probation. They’ll carry the destruction they caused with them for the rest of their lives.

This isn’t about shaming some kids for tossing back a few White Claws in the woods. It’s more serious than that. Fire safety starts with fire education, and right now, we need to do better as a community.

Or, as another local fire official told the Vail Daily this week, “We have to rely on people doing the right thing, and it seems like people aren’t getting the message.”

Apparently not, so here’s the message again. Under current Stage 1 restrictions:

  • Campfires are only allowed within designated fire grates in developed campgrounds in a metal, in-ground containment structure. Fire pans and rock campfire rings are not acceptable).
    Fires of any type, including charcoal, are prohibited outside of developed areas.
  • Smoking isn’t permitted except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in a barren area free of vegetation.
    Explosive materials, including explosive targets, are prohibited.
  • Fireworks are always prohibited on BLM, National Forest, and National Park Service lands.

Parents, talk to your kids about fire safety and fire danger. Residents and visitors, please report illegal campfires when you see them.

And, please, please be smart when it comes to recreating on our beloved public lands.

We’ve got to do better. Otherwise, the consequences could be disastrous.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd and Advertising Director Holli Snyder.

Our View: Let’s focus on the next normal

Since the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year grabbed pretty much the whole world by the throat, far too many people have called our current situation “the new normal.”

That couldn’t be more wrong. And, if you have a clown shoe handy, feel free to give a friendly whack on the head to anyone within reach who says it.

There’s nothing “normal” about what we’re going through. It’s been more than a century since the world had to muddle through a global pandemic — one that claimed at least 50 million lives on a far less populous planet.

This pandemic has taken fewer lives, but humanity has paid a heavy price, particularly economically and emotionally.

The good, if uncertain news, is that the world is adjusting fairly quickly, although U.S. cases are surging again. In the same way that our lives in January seem so distant, it’s possible that our lives today may look equally distant in the next year or so.

The question, of course, is what that “next normal” will look like. Will people be willing, or able, to gather again in restaurants, theaters and auditoriums? Will people be willing, or able, to travel as freely as they did in January?

There’s no way to know right now, but some of the evidence is encouraging. We still need to social distance and wear face coverings when in stores (please wear those coverings, folks — it’s just common courtesy and common sense), but we’re seeing signs of a move away from so much isolation.  

Local ski resorts opened for summer operations this week, with restrictions. The local real estate industry is humming right now. Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, the valley’s largest realty firm, is reporting record activity for this time of year. The construction industry is rolling.

With that said, too many people in our valley remain out of work. Too many people are relying on food banks and other forms of assistance. Too many people have lapsed into substance abuse and despair. Too many businesses have closed.

Again, though, where we are today isn’t where we’ll be several months from now.

The success of the resort reopenings will tell us a lot. So will the coming Fourth of July weekend. In the months to come, when we get snow, and how much comes, will tell us even more about how many people are willing to travel, stay and play.

Whatever the next normal looks like, it may only vaguely resemble the old normal of January. But the next normal probably won’t look much like the last three months, either.

Until that next normal starts to gel, please, wash your hands, wear your mask and keep your distance.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Vail Daily Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Vail Daily Advertising Director Holli Snyder and Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller.

Our View: No foul moving noon ball game

This small-town kerfuffle over moving the noon basketball game from Eagle Valley Middle School down the road to the Gypsum Recreation Center isn’t about killing tradition or viewing community members as suspects or security risks.

It’s about the safety of the hundreds of students who attend the school and teachers and staff.

That shouldn’t be so hard to understand, given what we all know about school safety in the years since 1995. That’s the year a 50-year agreement was signed by the school district, the town of Eagle and the local recreation district after the town contributed $431,040 toward building a double-size gym at Eagle Valley Middle School.

Today, it’s hard to fathom why the town, rec district and school district would sign off on a 50-year pact. But the deal reflected the community culture at the time and limited funding across the board was part of that culture. The town had to dig deep to come up with the money and it took five years to pay off that amount. Because it was such a huge expenditure at the time, Eagle wanted to make sure the deal lasted. Hence, the 50-year term.

And since we’re talking about community culture, it goes without saying that the world — especially here in this valley — was a much different place in 1995.

When that agreement was signed, there hadn’t yet been Columbine, or Sandy Hook, or Stoneman Douglas — names of schools that need no qualifiers. Every American is fully aware of the horrors that took place in each school after a gunman or gunmen were able to gain access to children and teachers.

It’s “access” that is the key word here.

In the school district’s letter to the Town Council, Superintendent Phil Qualman wrote that district officials aren’t concerned about the behavior of current players, “we’re concerned about the program being easy to exploit by a bad actor.”

That argument should carry the day, given what we know to be true about bad actors gaining access to schools in this country — especially in this state. 

According to EveryTown, which tracks gun violence in the United States, there have been at least 583 incidents of gunfire on school grounds since 2013, resulting in 214 deaths 420 injuries. That’s just in the last seven years.

The school district’s chief operations officer said school officials began to look at relocating the lunchtime game when a student wandered into the locker room when an adult was in there.

“The safety of the students is the primary concern. No one disputes that,” Eagle Mayor Scott Turnipseed said at the May 26 Town Council meeting.

So, if that isn’t in dispute, why is this still an issue? Why are the mayor and other members of the council, some of whom played in the game, siding with the players and not the kids?

There’s no dispute among Mountain Recreation officials and school district officials: they’re in unanimous agreement that the game should be moved and have worked to reach a deal with the town to do just that.

The game already moved once before the noon ballers found a home at the middle school. The tradition is the game  — not the gym.

And that tradition isn’t in any danger. The noon ballers aren’t being cast out into the cold with no place to play.

Yes, some of the game’s players have kids in local schools and want the game to stay in Eagle. Yes, by all accounts, the game has fostered positive community connections, and some prominent community leaders have played in the game, including the former publisher of this paper.

But the math here just doesn’t add up, and the Town Council needs to recognize that. Moving 20 or so odd players down the road to the Gypsum Recreation Center keeps the game intact while prioritizing the safety of our local kids.

That’s why all three sides need to hammer out a deal that’s fair to all parties, and then move on. The game can move back to Eagle when Mountain Recreation expands the Eagle ice rink and pool complex, with a double gym expected to come online in 30-36 months.

As one parent wrote, among the stack of letters entered into public record at the last Town Council meeting, “As a teacher and parent, I can not believe this is even a question. Why are these 20 players allowed access to a school that no one else is. Get your priorities straight please.”

Yes, please do.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Editor Nate Peterson, Publisher Mark Wurzer, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Business Editor Scott Miller, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor and Advertising Director Holli Snyder.

Our View: Real change starts with listening

The Vail Daily wants it on the record that we support Black Lives Matter.

Some readers may take offense at our proclamation, declaring that all lives matter. But it takes a certain willful ignorance to retreat into that blanket statement. Slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, institutional oppression and the disproportionate number of deaths of black citizens at the hands of police officers demonstrates that black lives haven’t been valued equally throughout the course of our nation’s history, despite what is written in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

We also embrace Latinx Lives Matter because that’s the racism we most often encounter in the communities we serve — from correspondence and voicemails we receive to comments online.

What does this mean? First off, it means we need to be honest about who we are. The Vail Daily editorial staff is overwhelmingly white and predominantly male. We are a bastion of white privilege, and we know it. So, we need to do what white people all over the country need to do — stop trying to control the conversation and listen. 

White people don’t get to define the experience of African American, Latinx or other minority populations in this country. What’s more, white saviorism is another form of racism. It is demeaning to other populations when the white majority tries to fix their problems, implying we know what’s best.  

If we really believe that all people are created equal, it’s past time for white people to stop doing things for others and start doing things with them. And, for God’s sake, let’s let other voices speak.

That’s not easy for a newspaper. We have a big voice and we use it every day, ideally for the benefit of our community. But right now, at this moment in America, we understand the most important thing we can do is to stop talking and make a promise. So that’s what we will do.

We promise to listen.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Editor Nate Peterson, Publisher Mark Wurzer, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Business Editor Scott Miller, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor and Advertising Director Holli Snyder.

Our View: Wearing a mask shows you care

When the world changes, we need to change with it.

That’s now true of mandates and recommendations to wear face masks in public to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Those of us who lived in Colorado in 1987 may remember the letters to newspapers decrying the then-new mandatory seat belt law. The main argument was that the law was an affront to personal freedom.

We’re seeing much the same indignation over the not-particularly onerous rules about wearing face coverings in public.

At this point, just about anyone not wearing some sort of mask, either in a store or an outdoor setting where it’s impossible to maintain social distancing — 6 feet, or roughly two Labrador retrievers — is making a statement. That statement is misguided, as is the idea that the virus itself is some sort of hoax.

This piece isn’t going to argue about the efficacy of masks in preventing the spread of the COVID-19, or the reality of the disease, so save your emails.

Instead, here’s a simple fact: If we’re going to get our economy back on track, many more of us need to mask up.

Governments and businesses, including Costco and local transit systems, require patrons to wear masks. Communities including Glenwood Springs, Basalt and Aspen have made mask-wearing mandatory in public places.

In an odd contortion of logic, many of those who decry mask mandates are also calling for the immediate reopening of businesses in the valley, state and nation.

Reopening is something most folks fervently wish for. In the case of our valley, though, that means inviting guests to stay and play in our part of the world. Those guests are going to demand assurances that businesses are safe. 

In the days after the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the valley, people at this newspaper received any number of emails from patrons of businesses that had reported virus-sickened employees. Who was infected? When did it happen? Was that person working the night I had dinner?

Do you think those people will come back without assurances that we as a valley are doing everything possible to ensure their safety?

In this case, a big part of “everything” is employees, fellow guests and people in grocery and other stores wearing face coverings.

Without guests, we can’t get back to work and our economy will continue to wither.

Wearing a mask is no fun. Ask those who do it for hours at a time on a work shift. Still, wearing a mask isn’t particularly high on the list of horrible things. Would you rather wear a mask for eight hours or sit through a marathon session of Congress?  

It took about 30 years for Colorado to almost hit 90% seat belt use. We have to do much better than that when it comes to mask use.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Editor Nate Peterson, Publisher Mark Wurzer, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Business Editor Scott Miller and Advertising Director Holli Snyder.

Our View: Bringing communities together with Vida Latina

According to a 2017 U.S. Census Bureau study, the Hispanic population of Eagle County makes up over 35% of the community. These are our coworkers, our neighbors and our friends.

As the local, trusted news organization here in Eagle County, the Vail Daily prints on the cover every day its mission of “bringing communities together.” It would be shortsighted to not consider over one-third of our valley’s community when it comes to delivering valuable information that helps inform Eagle County residents, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March of 2019, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart launched Vail Vida Latina with the collaboration of Battle Mountain High School teachers Paola Baglietto, Julieta Cavallo and Miguel Salinas along with their students. As evidence of our rich Spanish culture here in Eagle County, he was directed to the local high school from the local college to start finding a way to collaborate. The teachers started submitting community information in Spanish for parents, and the students started submitting touching first-hand stories of growing up in Eagle County.

Soon after launching, local nonprofits and organizations became contributors to Vida Latina, printed Fridays in the Vail Daily, as well as on the Vail’s Daily’s website and on Facebook. Mountain Recreation, Walking Mountains Science Center, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Bright Future Foundation and others in the community started submitting their content in Spanish. Less than a year into Vida Latina, the Vail Daily brought on local Edgar Arroyo as a translator, turning important English stories by Vail Daily reporters into Spanish.

And now, thanks to federal funding assistance, Eagle County local Julio Garcia Jimenez has joined the team as a Spanish-language reporter through early June. You’ve likely already seen some of his reporting in the local news section of the Vail Daily, translated from the original Spanish.

Jimenez, a graduate of Battle Mountain High School, went to Santa Clara University for college, graduating with degrees in communication and Spanish. He has a passion for community journalism, and this valley we love, and we’re excited to have him on the Vail Daily team. It’s just the latest step in an ongoing effort to more fully cover the communities we serve here in Eagle County.

During the coronavirus outbreak, content in Vida Latina has included resources for help; updates on county and state restrictions; translations of columns from Heath Harmon, the director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment; as well as tips for staying safe outdoors; and first-hand accounts from local high school students.

If you would like to contribute to Vail Vida Latina, or tell us how we’re doing, email Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart at rleonhart@vaildaily.com.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Advertising Director Holli Snyder, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.

Our View: Take a moment to shape the future

The variable message board sign at Eagle is lit up with an admonishment — only 16% of Eagle County households have responded to the 2020 Census.

That’s is a ridiculously low response in a part of the state that is trailing Colorado turnout. The 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses western Eagle County, has Colorado’s lowest response rate at 47.2 percent. That’s more than 20 percentage points lower than the highest reporting area of the state — the 7th Congressional District at 67.7 percent.

Why do these numbers matter? Because the Census matters. The 2020 Census is important because it will determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, inform hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding, and provide data that will impact communities for the next decade.

There’s a lot riding on this once-in-a-decade event, so it is in local residents’ best interests to make sure everyone who lives in Eagle County is accounted for in the census.

It’s not like responding to the census is an onerous task. It takes about five minutes and can be done online, by phone, or by mail. And certainly, in these days of COVID-19, we all have plenty of time at home on our hands.

Certainly, laziness likely plays a role in the lackluster local census response. Hopefully, Eagle County residents will make the small time commitment it takes to complete the questionnaire.

But lethargy isn’t the only reason why people aren’t responding. There is also a matter of trust. There are many Americans today who don’t trust the government and don’t want to share their information. We aren’t the arbitrators of whether people’s fears are founded, but we don’t believe that opting out of census participation is a smart strategy.

The census is simply a count of how many people live in individual households as of April 1, 2020. It doesn’t address citizenship status or gun ownership or any of America’s hot-button topics. It doesn’t seek financial information or personal opinions.  As noted on the census webpage “The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. In fact, every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life.”

In the end, failure to participate in the census robs your community of representation and government funding. As we recover from the days of COVID-19, government aid will likely be a vital concern so Eagle County needs an accurate count to ensure it qualifies for whatever assistance is available

It’s not too late to participate in the census. In fact, the deadline for response is Oct. 31, 2020. But the sooner local census workers can get responses from easy-to-count populations, the more time they can devote to hard-to-reach groups.

So, since no one is going out to dinner and the movies tonight, take a few minutes to do something important and fill out a census response. As the effort’s tagline proclaims, take a moment to shape the future.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Advertising Director Holli Snyder, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.

Our View: Let’s not go backward

In a valley full of superb skiers and snowboarders, you’re not going to find a lot of people who want to ski greens all day, every day. But, going off the “Transition Trail Map” that outlines Eagle County’s latest public health order, we can’t, as a community, level up to the blue phase or the black diamond phase of our economic recovery if we don’t take this beginner phase seriously.

It’s a very real possibility, after all the hard work we’ve done keeping our distance from one another, and hunkering down, that we could go right back to the severe restrictions that were put in place after Eagle County emerged as one of the country’s hottest spots in early March.

We have, just like Gov. Jared Polis said last week, gotten our act together here in Eagle County.

Flatten the curve? According to Will Cook, the CEO of Vail Health, we prevented it entirely.

Last Thursday, when Eagle County became the first in the state to receive exemptions from the governor’s stringent stay-at-home order, Cook told Polis that the hospital didn’t have a single COVID-19 patient in its care. Vail Health hasn’t had a patient on a ventilator since March 27.

So, yeah, there’s a reason for optimism. There was nothing wrong with a little virtual backslapping in that official ceremony with Polis and county officials, considering how far we’ve come.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We may be beyond our peak, so to speak, according to the county’s data, but we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet.

On Monday, the governor said letting down our guard now, as a state, would only put us right back where we were.

“Our gains will be lost,” Polis said. “This great sacrifice that Coloradans have made will have been for nothing if we can’t continue and maintain the social distancing needed.”

So, yes, you can now go get a haircut, or get your nails done, or hit some golf balls — but that doesn’t mean you can start slacking off.

You still need to wear your mask every time you’re out in public and keep 6 feet of social distance. You still need to keep washing those hands. And if you’re a business owner who is reopening, you and your staff need to follow the outlined social distancing protocols in place to the letter. No excuses.

Also, if you’re sick, stay home — and get tested immediately if you have symptoms.

Lastly, and this is a hard one, but you’ve got to tell your friends and relatives who want to visit that they’ve got to stay away. No weekend trips to the mountains. Eagle County has reopened — just a little — to those of us who live here, and to those who own a home here, but it’s still closed to everyone else.

We’re all in this together, and the only way we’re going to progress as a county — and as a state — is if we remain vigilant in this fight. That means doing your part.

That way,  hopefully, we can advance to some better terrain in the weeks and months to come.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Advertising Director Holli Snyder, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.

Our View: Feeling hopeful about 2020

It wasn’t all bad news, even though it often felt that way in 2019.

It was, undoubtedly, a year of discord. The local, state and national headlines reflected that. Here in Eagle County, we argued over a controversial workforce housing development in East Vail and a historic barn in Avon. At the polls in November, Colorado voters had their say on a reform measure to the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights following a bruising campaign season. Nationally, the impeachment of President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives has severely widened the national divide between progressives and conservatives — with no middle ground to be found.

So what’s there to be optimistic about in the New Year? The impeachment trial in the Senate promises to bring more of the same vitriol, as does the 2020 presidential election. Brace yourself for the nastiness.

And the saga of a workforce housing project in East Vail — and the possible fate of a herd of bighorn sheep — is far from settled. The arguments will continue as a legal challenge to the Vail Town Council’s decision plays out in court and a new council — now comprised of a majority opposed to the development — works to find a resolution.

Still, we’re optimistic, for a number of reasons. Good news? Look no further than the commitment that Vail Health and a number of other local organizations have made to combat our behavioral health crisis in Eagle County. Vail Health made a $60 million pledge over 10 years, in early April, with the launch of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, then doubled down at the end of the year by announcing a multi-year fundraising campaign to raise another $100 million. That drive is already off to a remarkable start, thanks to nearly $19 million in pledges, including $15 million from the Precourt family.

It truly is “going to take this entire valley,” as Chris Lindley, EVBH’s executive director, stated at the campaign launch event. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

We’re also hopeful that new state health care reforms, including a bill to create a publicly funded health insurance option that was co-sponsored by local lawmakers Kerry Donovan and Dylan Roberts, will make a dent for locals in a county with some of the highest insurance rates in the nation. We’re also encouraged by the ongoing efforts to create sustainable relief for health care costs between Vail Health, the Vail Valley Partnership and other local entities that models the Peak Health Alliance in Summit County.

Also, new taxes and restrictions on tobacco in Eagle County and local municipalities go into effect today, overwhelmingly approved by voters, that are designed to get citizens, especially our local youth, to stop smoking and vaping.

All of those developments are encouraging.

And, it goes without saying, in a resort market like ours, that snow makes everything better. What better way to ring in 2020 than with another powder day during a season that has been solid so far.

As for resolutions, ours at the Vail Daily remain the same as ever: We’re committed to telling the stories that matter to our locals, our second-home owners and our visitors. Ditto for continuing to serve as a community forum where successes, both big and small, can be celebrated and where disagreements can be debated in a civil manner.

Journalism in this country may be facing an existential crisis (just look at the Front Range media landscape), which is why we consider ourselves lucky to be in the position we’re in. Studies overwhelming show that communities without a local news source are less informed and less engaged.

We’re all lucky to call such a stunningly beautiful place home — or a home away from home.

Here’s to new beginnings in 2020. Happy New Year.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Advertising Director Holli Snyder, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.

Our View: Davis, Foley, Mason, Langmaid for Vail Town Council

This is a particularly good year for Vail Town Council candidates.

Seven excellent candidates are seeking four seats on the seven-member board. Our recommendation is for Vail voters to re-elect council members Kim Langmaid, Jen Mason and Kevin Foley, along with newcomer Barry Davis.

The incumbents are doing a pretty good job handling the town’s affairs, and Davis presents voters with an opportunity to elect a candidate who brings a fresh perspective and thinking to the board.

Again, though, any of these seven candidates would bring knowledge, experience and a love of the town to the office.

Pete Seibert’s name will ring a lot of familiar bells with voters, since he’s the son of Vail’s founder. But Seibert’s more than just a familiar name and face. He has long experience in the resort and real estate businesses, and has spent years involved in community groups including Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.

Brian Stockmar brings perhaps the longest resume to the race, with experience in international law and finance. Stockmar is also the current chair of the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission.

Karen Perez is representative of a new kind of Vail resident. An attorney, she works remotely, but is involved in the Vail Valley Business Women and other civic groups. She’s also a member of Vail’s planning board.

Any of these candidates would do well on the council. But the four candidates we’re recommending bring a mixture of personal, professional and community experience that’s hard to top.

Incumbent Kevin Foley is the longest-serving member of the council — all done within the town’s term-limit regulations. Foley is the quintessential working man in Vail, having experience in the lodging and restaurant business. He’s seen, and participated in, most of the town’s most contentious issues since the 1990s, including as a one-time member of the Vail Recreation District’s board of directors.

Foley is on Vail’s front lines nearly every day — he postponed an endorsement interview due to a large group coming in without notice to the restaurant at which he works.

He has a distinctive perspective about how the town works — and doesn’t — for the people who really make the place run. For a town with a focus on housing, that’s important.

Jen Mason also brings long experience in Vail to the council. When it comes to events, Mason’s tenure managing the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater gives her invaluable knowledge when it comes to understanding events and what it takes to lure and host them. Her current job as the executive director of the Colorado Snowsports Museum adds to that perspective.

Mason has visibly agonized over some decisions in the past, trying to find the balance between neighborhood wants and the town’s needs. She brings a thoughtful approach to those deliberations and listens to arguments for and against sometimes-divisive issues.

Kim Langmaid, the third incumbent running this year, has lived in the valley virtually her entire life. She knows what Vail used to be, and, learning at the feet of her parents and grandparents, knows first-hand about running a small business in a resort town.

Langmaid, the founder of Walking Mountains Science Center, often takes a little different view of various issues facing the council. She’ll almost always ask how just about anything can be more environmentally responsible, from new building projects to looking at more sustainable ways to heat the town’s streets.

That brings us to Barry Davis, the person who would be the rookie on the council. As a member of the Vail Commission on Special Events, Davis is no stranger to the town government and its operations. Davis has bought, run and sold several businesses in town, including Yellowbelly chicken, and has a keen understanding of the challenges and rewards of running a small business in town.

Davis is also a resident of the Chamonix townhomes neighborhood, living there with his wife and young son.

From hiring to housing to bringing a different perspective to the town’s ongoing debate about short-term rentals, Davis has the mix of experience and inquisitiveness that will serve Vail well in the coming years.

Again, Vail voters can’t make any bad choices this year, but Davis, Foley, Langmaid and Mason are the best of a good group.

Please, though, do your own research into these candidates. Our opinion should be just one data point among many. For more information, check out our voter guide at vaildaily.com.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Advertising Director Holli Snyder, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.