Cleveland seeking another stint on council
Vail Votes Nov. 3
• Vail’s election is separate from the county-wide election.
• That means you either vote in person at town hall or go to www.vailgov.com for information about absentee ballots.
• The council will have three new members — Andy Daly and Margaret Rogers are term-limited and Dale Bugby chose not to seek re-election.
• Ludwig Kurz is the only incumbent running for re-election this year.
• Current candidates include newcomers Kim Langmaid, Mark Christie, Jen Mason and Doe Browning; former council members Kevin Foley, and Dick Cleveland are running again.
VAIL — Dick Cleveland devoted his professional life to public service. This fall, he’s applying for another kind of public-service job — a spot on the Vail Town Council.
Cleveland is a familiar face at Vail’s Town Hall. He came to town in 1978 as a new officer on the town’s police force. After about a decade there, he spent the rest of his professional career as an investigator for the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s office. He retired two years ago.
Over the years, Cleveland has had two stints on the Vail Town Council, one as mayor. He’s also served on the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission and the Vail Housing Authority, and he has also served on Eagle County’s ECO Trails committee, the Minturn Cemetery District board and the Vail Valley Medical Center Board of Directors.
Cleveland’s professional life started as a police officer in California. When he married Kathy Langenwalter, he discovered the rewards of public service away from his job.
“She was very, very involved for years,” Cleveland said. “She was my mentor and got me involved in civic stuff.”
Civic stuff doesn’t always pan out the way people expect.
Cleveland was first elected to the Town Council in 2001, and he was one of four council members to vote against the proposal for the Solaris complex in Vail Village. The 2005 election saw Cleveland defeated in a bid for re-election. He ran again in 2007 and was elected mayor by the rest of the council. He declined to seek another term in 2011 but was appointed to the town’s planning commission two years later.
This year’s run for office required a lot of thought, Cleveland said.
“I support a younger generation (seeking office),” he said. “We’ve got some great young people running this time.”
But, he added, the coming departure of Mayor Andy Daly and council member Margaret Rogers — both are term-limited — leaves a significant void on the council.
“They were really a force to be reckoned with,” Cleveland said.
While Cleveland said he’ll welcome new faces to the council, he added that service on the board is a complicated job.
“I want the new people to have the same experience I had, with good examples to learn from,” he said.
Cleveland said the next council has some big jobs to either start or continue over the next few years.
Keeping the economy moving is essential, of course. But, Cleveland said, the council needs to patch up relationships with parts of the community, especially those living around the town’s golf course.
Cleveland was mayor when the town voted on a plan to use money once intended for use as a conference center. Part of that plan was a from-the-foundation-up renovation of the golf club. The vote passed with about 87 percent of the vote, but course neighbors fought the proposal once designs were presented. That fight went to court, all the way to the Colorado Court of Appeals, and the town prevailed.
“I don’t know what we could have done better,” Cleveland said. “But we need to understand what we did.”
Cleveland said transparency in town affairs is crucial, “but we’ve missed the mark on a few things.”
Housing has always ranged between “simmering” and “crisis” on the local spectrum — it’s closer to “crisis” at the moment. The problem, over and above the always-pressing need for workforce housing, is finding homes for people like Dick Cleveland and Kathy Langenwalter when they were younger. Cleveland said economic forces are keeping a lot of young families downvalley. The town can only do so much, he said, adding, “We need every family we can get to stay in town.”
The proposed Chamonix neighborhood, a 3.2-acre site roughly behind the West Vail fire station, has the potential to capture at least a few dozen of those families. The number of units has dropped over the past two years or so, from about 70 for-sale units to fewer than 50.
That’s a good move, Cleveland said.
“You need a place people want to stay in,” he said.
On the other hand, Cleveland said Vail can’t possibly solve its housing problems working alone and must work with Eagle County and surrounding towns on solutions to what is ultimately a valley-wide problem.
For those who stay in Vail, Cleveland hopes many young families soon feel the same way about the town that he and Langenwalter do.
The couple owns a small place in the Palisade area. It’s a nice getaway, a place to escape the bustle of the resort and the noise of the interstate.
Still, he said, when either he or his wife talk about “home,” there’s no doubt where that is.
“Home is Vail,” he said.