A candidate’s take on Vail
This is my fifth newspaper article focusing on various aspects of municipal government, using Vail as a sounding board. My consistent message:
n If you measure or highlight something in a logical way, things just might have a way of improving.
n If you are not improving, you are likely going backward in a changing and competitive world.
The subject of this article is the recent election for Vail Town Council.
I was an unsuccessful, last-minute candidate for this position. I thank the people who voted for me and have no complaints about anything. I hope the ideas I will present are relatively objective. Certainly, participation in the election process is a valuable learning experience and I have attempted to weave some of that experience into my thoughts.
The election process
n Number Of Candidates Per Opening: Vail had eight folks competing for four openings, just making a 2-to-1 ratio. Last election we had seven folks competing for four openings. A higher ratio shows more election vibrancy, so we are improving!
n Candidate Background: The old rule of thumb that you earn your spurs through numerous years on various boards, regular attendance at council meetings, extensive volunteering, etc., is out. This could be OK – relative newcomers might better see “the forest from trees.” Time will tell if there are new rules of thumb.
n Newspaper and Televised Forum Coverage: Unprecedented in scope and depth – much improved!
n Newspaper Endorsements: We still have the editorialized endorsements vs. just presenting a list of pros-cons for each candidate. Surely voters could evaluate highlighted strengths and weaknesses to make their own decisions. This is for the future – the endorsements likely did not affect the outcome of this election.
n Newspaper Reporting of the Election Process: Lots of focus on dollar amounts spent. Some mention of media used – newspaper ads, meet the candidate receptions and direct mailings. However, the newspapers missed highlighting the organized telephone calls, curbside signs, numerous letters to the editor and radio ads. Also missed, the door-to-door electioneering in targeted parts of town – probably accounting for a large part of the nearly two hundred additional voters that turned out. Electioneering in front of supermarkets was pretty much not allowed. The additional media that could be used in the next election includes TV advertising, personal web sites and of course, sky writing!
Does this mean we need election reform? Not in a financial sense. However, we should consider asking candidates to identify and quantify the media they used, thereby helping future candidates.
n Some voters thought there were no big issues this election – not sure this is true.
n Fix the public input section of the council meetings. The town’s brochure says “your thoughtful input is welcome and somebody will get back to you, if appropriate.” Either make this happen or remove the words.
n Promote/facilitate one BILLION dollars of private redevelopment! The upcoming retreat should include a financial mini course to ensure a baseline understanding among council members.
n While all this is going on, keep an eye on Vail’s sense of community. Candidates talked about a third fire station, I-70 noise and the number of younger people who live in town in one context or another.
n Utilize community talent as volunteers in citizens committees to tackle some of the items that fall between the cracks in council operations.
n Prepare a comprehensive annual report. It should include two sections. First, a stakeholders summary covering Vail government as a provider, facilitator or partner-observer in these areas: municipal services, recreation, social services and our economic engines: winter-summer activities and retail-restaurants-lodging. Second, a detail section, with as many user friendly displays of in-depth financial and trend information as possible.
n Finally, just pure change. The combination of a new town manager, and a mix of newcomers and hopefully enlightened incumbents should equate to enough change to move towards the “I” word, IMPROVEMENT.
In summary, the Vail election brought out a lot of topics. It has given voters substance to be vocal if they see and hear things that do not match up with the electioneering rhetoric. This includes commitments of time-preparation, energy and not being a single-issue candidate. All in all, the election process is alive and well in Vail and we trust the council operations will be the same.
Paul Rondeau ran for the council this past election.