Eight candidates emerge for Vail council
Vail CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – The Vail Town Council candidate field is mostly certified, and campaign season has officially begun – there are eight candidates vying for four open seats in the Nov. 8 town election.
The candidates are, for the most part, familiar faces around town and in town government. There are two incumbents, Margaret Rogers and Andy Daly; three former council members, Greg Moffet, Farrow Hitt and former Mayor Ludwig Kurz; two former council candidates, Stephen Connolly and Buddy Lazier; and one sitting town official, Rayla Kundolf, who sits on the town’s Commission on Special Events and also on the Vail Economic Advisory Council.
Vail Town Clerk Lorelei Donaldson said all the candidate petitions were certified as of Friday afternoon except for Lazier’s. Lazier was missing some valid signatures on his petition, she said, and has until 12 days before the election to fix it.
As for the rest of the field, the campaigning will begin almost immediately. A candidate forum sponsored by the Vail Daily, KZYR and the Vail Chamber and Business Association also will put the candidates on the spot on Oct. 20, asking them what the issues are and why they think they should be elected.
Why they’re running
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Unlike the last Vail Town Council election in 2009, this race appears less contentious. Many candidates say things in town are going pretty well and haven’t identified any major changes they plan to make if elected.
“I don’t think this candidate field brings a particular issue,” Moffet said. “It’s not like 2005 when Solaris was a fistfight.”
Lazier, the 1996 winner of the Indianapolis 500, said he’s not unhappy but feels a “huge desire to give back.”
“I’ve lived here 44 years, my entire life,” he said. “I was raised here. I’m raising my kids here. There’s nothing to me like the town of Vail.”
Rogers, an incumbent, said it’s important for Vail to stay the course. She’s running for re-election because there’s more work to be done, she said.
“We have been very successful, I think, in the last four years or so in keeping our finances under control, operating with a balanced budget, yet still not neglecting the services that keep us No. 1,” she said.
Rogers wants to continue the town’s fiscal policies, which she said have kept the town’s finances in good shape throughout tough economic times. She wants to continue working on the town’s capital projects as well as the special events calendar.
“The increased focus we’ve put on the special events, I think, has been very successful,” Rogers said.
Daly, the other incumbent, is also proud of how the town has weathered the economic storm in recent years. He wants to continue to make sure the town manages its operating costs effectively so there’s plenty left over to spend on capital improvements.
“The town is really the envy of so many municipalities,” Daly said. “We’ve seen growth in the last year where others are continuing to see declining revenues.”
Hitt, who chose not to run for re-election in 2009, said his past two terms on council were instrumental in bringing positive change to Vail.
“I would like to continue on that path if the voters will have me back,” Hitt said.
Moffet said he understands finance and business, something the town needs right now, he said. The town, unlike other municipalities that can focus solely on services such as snowplowing and law enforcement, has to be run like a business.
“We’ve got to keep the motor running,” Moffet said. “I don’t think we’re going to have a rip-roaring recovery in the next couple of years.”
Kurz, who is mostly retired now, wants to contribute once again to the town he’s called home since 1966. He agrees the council has done a great job in terms of being fiscally responsible, but there’s more work ahead.
“I also don’t think that the country, or we (locally), are out of the woods yet,” Kurz said. “I think that still needs a lot of attention.”
Kundolf said she has no agenda other than a “passion for Vail.”
“I feel like I can make a difference,” Kundolf said. “I want to shake things up a little bit. I bring a different perspective.”
Connolly, who works in sports marketing, thinks he has some good ideas to contribute to the council. He also said he didn’t feel as if anybody was stepping up to the plate in this election, so he decided to run.
“I’ve attended a few meetings and have come away thinking, ‘Gee, not much has changed in the last four to six years,” Connolly said.
The economy and keeping the town fiscally responsible is an ongoing issue in the Vail Town Council election. It’s something every candidate is conscious of, and many candidates think local and national economic pains are far from over.
Another big topic is the Ever Vail application, Vail Resorts’ $1 billion proposed development for the western portion of Lionshead.
Ever Vail is the single largest development in Vail since Lionshead was built, Rogers said. She is familiar with the project and wants to continue working on it.
“It’s such an enormous project, and it’s so important we do it right,” she said. “For someone to come on (the council) and have to start from scratch is a huge task.”
The redevelopment of Timber Ridge is another big issue this year, according to the candidates. Daly also wants to see through the redevelopment of the town offices site.
Capital projects in town remain a hot topic and something many candidates would like to see completed. Hitt and Daly both agree that parking still hasn’t improved for the long term even though it has calmed down recently.
Vail Homeowners Association Executive Director Jim Lamont said there’s a revolving door in Vail politics and wishes there were more “new blood” in the candidate field this year. He’ll be someone who raises a lot of questions for candidates throughout this election cycle, including taking a hard look at everyone’s qualifications.
Lamont said that in addition to having backgrounds that include higher education, business experience, respect for cultural differences and world travel, candidates also need to have an agenda.
“They have to have an agenda if they’re going to be decision-makers and leaders,” Lamont said. “They have to provide us with an agenda of what they intend to accomplish.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.