Vail council candidate Jonathan Staufer in his words
Lifelong resident wants Vail to reclaim leadership on environment
The Vail Daily is running Q&As with the 10 candidates running for four seats on the Vail Town Council. The questionnaires will run in the order that the candidates appear on the ballot. The town is participating in Eagle County’s coordinated election. Ballots will be mailed out Oct. 8.
Name: Jonathan Staufer
Occupation: Retail merchant, property management
Length of residence in Vail: Lifelong resident
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Have you served on any other town boards or commissions? (that includes the Vail Recreation District and county boards and commissions, if any): I’ve served on the boards of numerous community and conservation nonprofit organizations, including Trees for Vail, Colorado Wild, Vail Homeowners Association, Vail Farmers’ Market and Gore Valley Citizens Alliance. I’ve been involved with several others.
Why do you want this job? I’ve always been involved in Vail’s community life. Vail is facing multiple challenges at the moment, and I hope my activism and my history in town will serve the community well as a member of the Vail Town Council.
What has the current council done well? What could it have done better? I applaud the current council for achieving the largest open space acquisition in recent memory.
Unfortunately, while there is a great deal of talk about “sustainability” and the “environment,” far too often these ideas take a backseat to political or economic expedience. Vail needs to retake its leadership role on conservation and the environment. Ideas such as building a pedestrian village, human-scaled architecture that fits in the mountains, the largest free bus system in the United States and the conservation of over 30% of the Gore Valley as open space weren’t easy decisions when they were made. They were argued over, ridiculed and scoffed at, but they have contributed significantly to Vail’s success as a community and as an international destination resort. We need this sort of visionary thinking now more than ever.
What’s your position on the proposed half-cent sales tax increase for housing initiatives? I support housing projects that build community. Unfortunately, there has been limited recognition of the direct impact on diminishing housing stock and the need for regulation and taxation of short-term rentals. This despite the fact that there is overwhelming evidence that short-term rentals have greatly diminished the number of people living, working in and contributing to our community — not to mention the detrimental impacts short-term rentals have had on our neighborhoods and our residential quality of life.
If elected, what’s the main thing you’d like to see the council accomplish in the next two or four years? Historically, Vail was largely focused on building a better community for the people who lived and worked here. There was an understanding that if Vail was a great place to live, it would be a great place to visit. I’d like to get back to that. This is not saying that business isn’t a concern. After all, we all need to make a living, but it should not be the overarching concern. Indeed, if residents feel uncomfortable coming into Vail Village and Lionshead because it’s too crowded, chances are many of our visitors feel the same way. The overarching concern must be the quality of life for the people who live, work and participate in making our town an amazing community.