Election season alive in Vail
Ladies and gentlemen, start your campaigns.Election season gets under way in Vail today at 8 a.m., when Town Clerk Lorelei Donaldson opens her door at the Municipal Building for Vail residents to pick up petitions to run for Town Council. The deadline to file the petitions, with a minimum of 10 signatures by registered Vail voters, is Oct. 3.”Until they file, they’re really not official candidates,” says Donaldson, who’s preparing for her third election since becoming Vail’s town clerk in 1997.In a cycle that repeats itself every four years, four seats on the council are available in the upcoming election Nov. 4:- Bill Jewitt, incumbent town councilman, having served one two-year term.- Greg Moffet, incumbent town councilman, having served one, four-year term.- Chuck Ogilby, who after serving one four-year term has decided not to run for re-election, saying he’s accomplished many of the goals he set for himself when he was elected in 1999.- Rod Slifer, a long-time councilman and former mayor, having served on council from 1977 to 1984 and another four-year term beginning in 1999.The Town Charter prohibits council members from serving more than eight consecutive years at one time. The four members elected in November will join Diana Donovan and Dick Cleveland, whose terms expire next year, as well as Kudwig Kurz, the mayor, whose term ends in February.Gang of seven?So far, five people – all men – have declared their intentions of launching campaigns aimed at securing one of those seats:- Stephen Connolly, 45, a sports marketing specialist with nearly two decades of experience working in Vail.- Mark Gordon, 40, lead foreman with Vail Mountain’s communications center in Lionshead.- Jewitt, co-owner of Bart & Yeti’s bar and restaurant in Lionshead, who announced last month he would seek re-election.- Kent Logan, a retired investment banker and art collector, who also announced he would run last month.- Moffet, owner of Vail-based TIGA Advertising, who announced last week his intention to run for re-election.Two other men – Slifer and Nino Licciardi – are expected to make their intentions known soon.”Close to the vest’In Vail, it’s been a common tactic to wait a few days, or even more, to see who else picks up petitions before revealing one’s intentions. And certainly there’s no need to rush, with three weeks to find just 10 signatures.Councilman Slifer, for example, appears in no hurry.”I haven’t made up my mind yet,” says Slifer, a partner in the Slifer, Smith and Frampton real estate firm, admitting, however, he’s waiting with “great interest.”Meanwhile, Licciardi, chairman of the board of the Vail Recreation District, couches his intentions differently.”The door remains open to any future political ambitions,” says Licciardi.Kurz, who’s not running as he’s term-limited and must sit out at least two years, says he always liked to declare his intentions early on.”I always made up my mind early and said so,” the outgoing mayor says. “But some people like to play it close to the vest and see who else is running first.”Poll perspectiveMany people are saying this election is pivotal to Vail’s future.Even with the town being named the No. 1 ski resort in North America for the second consecutive year, Vail’s economy has been in the doldrums for years, suffering maladies ranging from sagging sales-tax revenues to aging infrastructure.Even so, the private sector has a slew of major projects estimated to cost half a billion dollars in various stages of the planning process, including the redevelopment of Lionshead and the Vista Bahn ski yard, also known as the “Front Door;” and the renovation and/or construction of hotels, including the Vail Village Inn, the Sonnenalp and the Four Seasons.The municipal government, meanwhile, is scheduled to begin extensive “streetscape” improvements – including installing a snowmelt system underneath the streets of Vail Village – next year, as well as plan and build a voter-mandated conference center in Lionshead.”Every election is somewhat pivotal and important,” says Kurz. “After all, it signals a new segment in Vail’s life.”One former councilman, Kevin Foley, has a different take.”This town’s going to be here for a long, long time,” says Foley, who served six years on the council, beginning in 1995. “Life will go on. Hopefully we didn’t all muck it up for the rest of them.”Vail election information- Today – First day for circulation of nominating petitions to Town Council candidates.- Oct. 3 – Last day for candidates to file nominating petitions with the Town Clerk’s Office.- Oct. 5 – Last day a person can move into a municipal precinct and become a resident for the purpose of voting in the upcoming election.- Oct. 6 – Last day to register to vote as a Vail resident.- Oct. 14 – Last day for write-in candidates.- Oct. 23 – Early voting and absentee balloting begins.- Oct. 31 – Last day voters can request an absentee ballot, either in person or by mail.- Nov. 4 – Election Day. Polls at the Donovan Pavilion are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.To be eligible to vote in the Vail elections, a person must be:- A full-time resident with a current, legal address in the town of Vail for at least six months.- 18 years old or older.- A U.S. citizen.- Registered to vote in Eagle County.Council members receive a salary of $500 a month; the mayor receives a salary of $1,000. The mayor and the mayor pro-tem are elected to two-year terms from among the council members at the first regular meeting after the election. Candidates for Vail Town Council must be:- A U.S. citizen.- Registered to vote in Vail.- At least 21 years old.- A Vail resident for two years immediately preceding the election.Vail’s elections this year are not coordinated with any other election, meaning Vail voters will be using two ballots – one to elect four members of the Vail Town Council and another issued by Eagle County for participation in state and county questions.New this year, all Vail voters will vote at Donovan Pavilion, on South Frontage Road in West Vail. Previously, Vail voters were separated into three distinct precincts.For more information, contact the Vail Town Clerk’s Office at 479-2136 or the Eagle County Clerk’s Office at 328-8710.