Coalitions have intrigued Vail voters in the past | VailDaily.com
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Coalitions have intrigued Vail voters in the past

Matt Zalaznick

The coalitions that have run for various government boards in Vail are essentially mini-political parties operating on the same principles as the Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

The underlying philosophy behind small coalitions and major political parties is that a majority of candidates sharing a platform will make more progress – or, at least, pass more laws – than a board with several different agendas.

“We had our own philosophy, we had our own platform, and we fulfilled that obligation to the taxpayers when we were elected unanimously,” says Nino Licciardi, chairman of the Vail Recreation District’s board of directors.

Licciardi, along with board members Peter Cook and Julie Hansen, were elected as a coalition to the five-member board in 2002. Licciardi – who has not ruled out a run for Vail Town Council this fall or in the future – says he will only run for political office as part of a coalition.

“If I ever choose to run for any other offices, it is the only way I would run, – with a coalition,” Licciardi says. “Knowing what I know now, the one thing you better know how to do is add.”

This election season, Vail Town Councilman Bill Jewitt, who is seeking reelection, and retired businessman Kent Logan had formed a coalition, but that partnership appears to have fallen apart.

Four seats will be up for grabs when residents vote in November. Voters will return to the polls for a special election in January when Vail Mayor Ludwig Kurz’s term ends.

Town Councilman Greg Moffet is running for reelection, while Town Councilman Rod Slifer has not announced his decision. Town Councilman Chuck Ogilby is not running for reelection.

Former Mayor Rob Ford says he was elected to Town Council in 1995 along with a loose coalition that included Bob Armour, Michael Arnett and Mike Jewett. Armour was appointed mayor by the coalition as soon as it was elected, driving Osterfoss to resign, Ford says.

“I wouldn’t say we called it a “platform,’ but we all met during the campaign and felt the issues we were running on were the same,” Ford says.

The group’s three priorities were affordable housing for town employees, economic viability and community-building, Ford says.

The group passed a long-range housing plan that called for homes to be built in small pockets throughout Vail, rather than in large complexes like the Middle Creek apartments now under construction near Vail Village, Ford says.

That policy, however, appears to have been abandoned by succeeding councils, Ford says.

The group also changed building codes to encourage redevelopment, particularly in Lionshead and, Ford says, did it without any lawsuits being filed against the town. Those changes, in part, led to renovations at two major hotels –the Antlers at Vail and the Marriott Mountain Resort, both in Lionshead – and paved the way for Vail Resorts to redesign the plaza leading to the Eagle Bahn gondola, Lionshead, Ford says.

“We did all of these and then it was time to leave,” Ford says.

Arnett, who runs a woodworking business in Minturn, says the group also made it easier for locals to build extensions to older homes without having to go through major renovations. But, he said, he wouldn’t have called the four candidates a “coalition.”

“It was more a bunch of people with the same concerns,” Arnett says. “The people on council at the time had a real concern about trying to address concerns of the local population.

“Primarily,” he adds, “we raised awareness about the need for employee housing in the community.”

Though the candidates shared a philosophy, there were disagreements, Arnett says.

“For the most part, I don’t think it was an organized coalition – just a number of people who had similar concerns,” Arnett says. “I don’t think we always all saw eye-to-eye, and there were a number of issues where the votes were narrow.”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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