Vail groups backing Town Council candidates, sales tax hike proposal |

Vail groups backing Town Council candidates, sales tax hike proposal

‘Citizens for Responsible Government’ is backing a four-person slate of candidates for council

A local group is again supporting a slate of Vail Town Council candidates.

That group, Citizens for Responsible Government, was active in the 2013 town election and backed a slate of candidates it believed would oppose the then-controversial plan to rebuild the clubhouse at the Vail Golf Club and Nordic Center.

The group again backed a slate of candidates in the 2019 election, all of whom won seats on the Town Council.

The group this year is again backing a slate of candidates: Kathryn Middleton, Kirk Hansen, Jonathan Staufer and incumbent Brian Stockmar.

The group had raised and spent just $162 as of Oct. 7, the last campaign finance reporting deadline. That money was used to open a bank account and rent a post office box. But the group in the past couple of weeks has placed half-page ads in the Vail Daily.

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The next campaign finance reporting period ends Nov. 1.

Studying the candidates

Longtime local Pam Stenmark is a member of the group. The group’s concerns include the environment, open space, congestion, housing and the fate of the bighorn sheep herd that uses an area in East Vail as its winter range.

Those issues share some commonalities, Stenmark said.

An ad in the Vail Daily for Citizens for Responsible Government captures the signatures of Vail residents who are supporting the candidate slate of Kathryn Middleton, Kirk Hansen, Jonathan Staufer and incumbent Brian Stockmar for the Vail Town Council.
Vail Daily

“It seemed with this election being pretty critical to the future of Vail, we wanted to study (the candidates),” Stenmark said.

Stenmark added that group members have been watching the current town government, and studying candidates and their positions on the issues. The candidates the group endorsed were seen as the best people for the job, with their combination of local knowledge, education and willingness to work on important issues.

Longtime Vail resident Merv Lapin was one of the 70 people whose names appeared on the ad.

Lapin said he interviewed “about half” of this year’s 10 council candidates. “I wanted to make up my own mind,” Lapin said. In the end, the candidates endorsed by the political group “have agendas I’m sympathetic to,” he said.

Lapin said his top issue for the town is quality of life. That term can mean different things to different people. In Lapin’s case, quality of life starts with on-mountain access and safety.

While Vail Resorts operates the ski resort, Lapin said the town can enforce its wishes with parking, housing requirements and other tools.

Booth Heights an issue?

Lapin said he also hopes a new council will pursue an idea to start condemnation proceedings on the Booth Heights property in East Vail.

During the 2019 approval hearings on that proposed workforce housing project, Lapin was one of several town residents who urged the Vail Town Council to pursue condemnation as a way to preserve the 23-acre parcel owned by Vail Resorts.

Blondie Vucich and her husband, Tom, also lobbied against workforce housing on the parcel in favor of preserving the bighorn herd.

In an email, Vucich said it would be “reckless” to suggest the endorsed candidates might pursue condemnation on the parcel.

Instead, she wrote, “We trust this group to make measured, informed decisions while navigating difficult challenges.”

While Citizens for Responsible Government has endorsed candidates, another political organization is urging Vail voters to approve a proposed .5% sales tax to help fund town housing initiatives.

Vail Locals for Housing had raised $9,800 as of Oct. 7 to advocate for passage of the tax question. That group had raised $9,800 and spent $4,192 as of Oct. 7. Group member Jenn Bruno, an outgoing Town Council member, said the group is also preparing to run Vail Daily ads in support of the measure.

That group lists contributions from a range of Vail and Eagle County businesses from real estate to restaurants.

Spending has included yard signs, stickers and social media advertising.

How much has been raised?

A pair of registered political groups are involved in this year’s town of Vail election.

Citizens for Responsible Government: That group had raised and spent $162 as of Oct. 7.

Vail Locals for Housing: That group had raised $9,800 and spent $4,192 as of Oct. 7.

The next reporting deadline is Nov. 1.

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