Meet the candidates for Gypsum Town Council election
Five candidates are running for three open seats in April 5 election
Five candidates are running for three town council seats at the 2022 Gypsum municipal elections on April 5. Longtime council member Chris Estes will not seek reelection this spring. However, incumbent members of the Gypsum Town Council, Bill Baxter and Lori McCole, are running alongside contenders David Fiore, Scott Green and Marisa Sato.
The Gypsum municipal election will be an in-person polling place election, meaning that all registered voters who do not request an absentee ballot are required to go to Gypsum Town Hall in person to cast their vote between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on April 5.
More information about voter registration can be found at the Town of Gypsum’s website.
Incumbent Bill Baxter was appointed to the Town Council in Nov. 2019 following the resignation of Karen Shaeffer. Baxter was one of 12 candidates that the Gypsum Town Council considered to fill the vacancy, and he was selected for the position by a unanimous vote.
Having completed the second half of Shaeffer’s four-year term, Baxter is now running for reelection. He was born and raised in Gypsum, and graduated from Eagle Valley High School. After leaving the area for a few years to pursue career opportunities, Baxter returned to his hometown, and has been working as the controls and automation engineer at American Gypsum, the local wallboard plant, for the past 27 years.
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“I do lend myself towards technical issues and things in the town because of my background,” Baxter said.
Baxter raised all of his children in Gypsum, and said he feels it is important to serve the community in any way he can. He has sat on the board of directors for the Gypsum Fire Protection District for the past eight years, most recently as president of the board, and hopes to continue contributing to the welfare of the Gypsum community through another term on the town council.
“I think that all of us need to work together to create and keep a great living space here in Gypsum, and that’s what I want to be a part of,” Baxter said. “I want to be a part of good commercial projects for our town, getting those dollars and developers here that want to put in projects that will sustain employment. I think we’ve done a really good job in having a lot of places here that afford us a place to live, but I think that we can work harder on the commercial side of things.”
Incumbent Lori McCole was appointed to the Town Council in May of 2020 following the death of longtime Council member Pam Schultz. Prior to assuming the position, McCole served on the Planning and Zoning committee for eight years.
“I’ve been here for 20 years, and I’ve been serving the community for 10 years now,” McCole said. “I am running because as a parent, I want to keep this town a great place to live and raise a family. I feel my role as a council member is to make sure Gypsum continues to be the most desirable and family-oriented community in the valley.”
McCole has worked at Colorado Mountain News Media — the parent compay of the Vail Daily — in Gypsum for 14 years, the past six as the Director of Finance and Administration. If re-elected, she hopes to apply her business acumen to help stimulate the local economy.
“Priorities for the next few years are to bring more jobs into Gypsum,” McCole said. “We need additional commercial development but with an emphasis on preserving what is unique to Gypsum. I would like to see us continue to build a sense of community and develop the town center we envisioned in our master plan.”
McCole said that one of the accomplishments she is proud of from her first term on council was the approval of the Sienna Lake Senior Living Community, and she hopes to continue serving the growing senior community in Gypsum in upcoming terms.
“I am now past the age of 55, so I helped approve Sienna Lake, and I think having a 55-and-older community is important because a lot of our citizens are aging and I really think senior care is going to be important in the next few years,” McCole said.
David Fiore, a first-time candidate for the Gypsum Town Council, has been living on the Western Slope for 20 years, and moved to Eagle County a decade ago to join his wife, Sue Throckmorton, a 35-year resident of the valley.
The pair moved to Gypsum with their family eight years ago, and Fiore now hopes to apply the knowledge gained from his professional and public service experiences to the Gypsum Town Council.
Fiore is currently the senior airport properties and development representative for Federal Express Corporation, as well as a real estate developer and professional mediator supporting Colorado’s 5th and 9th Judicial Districts.
“Our two highest revenue producers in this town are Costco and the airport,” Fiore said. “The airline affair committees that are participating in negotiations with the Vail Valley Partnership, these are all people I work with around the country.”
One of Fiore’s main priorities in running for Town Council is managing the town’s water supply. Fiore currently serves on the Buckhorn Valley Metro District 2 Board, and he said water management issues have noticeably increased in the Buckhorn Valley.
“We’re 400 homes built out — at full build it will be eight to nine hundred homes — and we’ve watched our water reservoirs dip down to pretty alarming levels,” Fiore said.
If elected to Town Council, Fiore plans to address water management as both a service-level issue for Buckhorn Valley residents and a fire protection issue for the broader Gypsum community.
“It is important to ensure we get a solid handle on growth, transportation, affordable housing and essential water supplies to support our community’s consumptive needs and to ensure public safety – firefighting – demands are met,” Fiore said.
Fiore has also served on a wide variety of boards and commissions in communities across Colorado and nationally. He identified managing growth, natural resources, and community assets as key areas where he can contribute knowledge and experience. He also hopes to update and revive existing town plans, modifying them when needed to reflect present-day realities.
“The town has some good planning tools in place — the new downtown core, some of the highway corridors, including the beautification of the highway corridors, there are river corridor plans in town — you can’t let those plans sit on the shelf,” Fiore said. “You need to dust them off. So if some of those plans were created a while ago, you need to update them with current, real-time facts — what’s going on with traffic, what’s going on with revenue, what’s going on with our affordable housing issues.”
For more information about Fiore’s campaign, visit DavidFiore.org.
First-time Town Council candidate Scott Green is a lifelong Gypsum resident. He was born and raised just outside of town and raised all five of his children in the area. He is the president and owner of Scott Green Excavating Inc., and he said that he is running because he wants to lend his experience in infrastructure and larger bond projects to enhance the development of the town.
Green also served as president of the school board for eight years, where he was involved in a number of projects that he believes will translate well to the Town Council.
“I was involved with the bond project when we did Battle Mountain, June Creek, Eagle Valley, and Red Canyon, the tech update,” Green said. “We were really successful with the way that we put that together, and I can lend that experience to the town.”
Green has been operating his excavation company in Gypsum since 1995, and sees an opportunity to support impactful infrastructure projects — such as a new roundabout and the Costco interchange — while on the council.
“That’s what I do,” Green said. “I won’t build it, because I’m getting too old for projects that big, but I can lend the expertise to get that in a spot where we can get it done. From the infrastructure side, I think it’s the perfect opportunity right now, with Glenwood Canyon in the condition that it is, to press the feds and the state to get this Costco interchange moving forward.”
Green said that giving back to the community has been a priority in his family throughout their time in town, and serving on Town Council would just allow him to lend a hand in a new way.
“My wife and I, we spend a lot of time donating back to the community,” Green said. “There are core folks in the valley that when times are tough for somebody, it’s always the same folks, it seems like, that are there trying to contribute and help. We’ve always done that, and that’s kind of what this is about. It’s community service, nothing more than that.”
Marisa Sato served for four years on the Town Council, from 2016-2020, and has served on a number of local boards and committees during the 16 years that she has lived in Gypsum.
Sato has served as both president and vice president of the Gypsum Chamber of Commerce, been a member of the Town of Gypsum Recreation Committee, and is currently vice chairman of the planning commission. She started with the Chamber of Commerce while working for Ferguson Enterprises, and the experience inspired her to get more involved in community initiatives.
“We were heavily involved with the formation of the chamber and about businesses promoting businesses within Gypsum and the surrounding area,” Sato said. “I wanted to kind of take the next step into giving more back, instead of a business to business aspect, by being more involved in our community.”
Sato lost her seat in the 2020 election by seven votes, which she said was due to the challenges of running a campaign during the pandemic. She highlighted that her existing knowledge and committee experience will allow her to hit the ground running if reelected to the position this year.
“I have a detailed understanding on how the town works and the time commitment with this role,” Sato said. “I would like to get back on council, if the community will vote for me in their faith of confidence, just because it’s a great area to live and I want to help ensure that we make great decisions and maintain that Gypsum is one of the best towns in Eagle County.”
Sato is also raising her 3-year-old son in Gypsum and wants to make the town an environment where he and other children in the community can thrive.
“I am very passionate about our small town and love living here,” Sato said. “We are raising our son here and I would like to make sure that Gypsum stays a great community to live in. I would like to see the town support programs for the youth and help establish a safe place for our youth to gather.”
When: Tuesday, April 5, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Gypsum Town Hall
Voter registration: Townofgypsum.com/town-hall/town-council/municipal-election