"Buz’ Reynolds Jr. Avon’s new mayor | VailDaily.com

"Buz’ Reynolds Jr. Avon’s new mayor

Matt Zalaznick

Albert “Buz” Reynolds Jr., a general contractor who divided his time between carpentry and ski-patrolling when he first arrived in the valley, followed in his father’s footsteps when he was picked as mayor of Avon by his fellow-council members Monday night.

“I’m excited and also apprehensive. We have a lot of work to do over the next couple of years,” said Reynolds, 50, whose father, Albert “Buz” Reynolds, was mayor in the 1990s.

Reynolds joined the Town Council six years ago after serving 13 years on Avon’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

The Town Council chose Reynolds unanimously to succeed outgoing Mayor Judy Yoder. Every four years, the Town Council picks one of its members to be mayor.

“I think Buz is the person that can bring us together and get us targeted on the problems,” Councilwoman Debbie Buckley said after Monday’s election.

The biggest problem, also known as “The Heart of the Valley,” may be its financial slump. After several years of booming sales-tax revenues, which pay for most of the town’s operations, business sagged during 2002, a year plagued by sluggish snow, a continuing drought and statewide wildfires.

“We’re going to have to deal with the budget. We’re going to have to fill vacant retail space and increase sales tax,” Reynolds said.

One of the first controversies Reynolds will have to steer the council through is whether to charge fares for Avon’s cash-strapped free bus system. The council is likely to revisit bus fares in the coming weeks.

The council also will continue to oversee construction of the Village at Avon and negotiate with Vail Resorts, which is planning to build a gondola to carry skiers from the town up to Beaver Creek Mountain.

“The gondola would be nice, to have a connection to the ski area,” Reynolds said. “But it has to be feasible for the community and the ski area.”

Newly elected Councilman Ron Wolfe said Monday night Reynolds will be an energetic leader.

“Some of the characteristics the mayor had to have were he needed to be pro-active, he needed to be a leader, and we needed a person who represents the vibrancy of a mountain town like Avon,” Wolfe said. “He came here as a ski patroller and now he’s a very successful businessman.”

Reynolds was nominated to be mayor by councilman Mac McDevitt at a special council meeting Monday night. It appeared to be a done deal until Councilman Pete Buckley nominated all the other council members: his wife, Debbie Buckley; Mike Brown; Brian Sipes; Wolfe; and McDevitt.

Council members then voted and Reynolds was the winner. His election was then approved unanimously.

“Buz has had the longest tenure on council, the longest tenure in the town and he’s got the respect of the citizens and the Town Council,” McDevitt said. “I think he will galvanize the council to move ahead and address the issues that need to be addressed.

“He’ll obviously need the support of the council,” McDevitt added, “and I think he’ll get it.”

McDevitt, perhaps the second-leading candidate for mayor, was appointed mayor pro tem, meaning he will fill in as mayor when Reynolds is absent.

While the mayor does not have any more power than other council members, he runs council meetings, sets their agendas with the town manager and often represents the town at special events.

Reynolds, who is sometimes soft-spoken and sometimes blunt, accepted his appointment humbly Monday night.

“It’s very nice to have the confidence of the council,” Reynolds said. “Hopefully, I can follow in the footsteps of the town’s mayors and do as good a job as they have.”

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