Familiar faces in Gypsum Town Board election | VailDaily.com

Familiar faces in Gypsum Town Board election

Kathy Heicher

Don’t expect big changes on the Gypsum Town Council over the next few years.

Four candidates, three of them incumbents – Gary Lebo, Tom Edwards and Tom Kelly – are seeking three council seats. The fourth candidate, Chris Estes, previously served a couple of terms on the board and is campaigning to return to office after about an eight-year respite.

Voters will make their choice at the town election, Tuesday. Polls at the town hall will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All of the contenders recently sat down to talk about why they are running for office, and to discuss some of the hot topics likely to appear on council agendas during the next four ear.

Tom Edwards, 61 retired architect

– Resident of Gypsum nine years; visited the town regularly since 1989

– Community involvement: Eagle Valley Land Trust Board, County Open Space Committee, United Way Board, Gypsum Daze Committee (organizes annual 5K run), secretary, Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce.

– Initially appointed to Town Council to fill a vacancy; then elected to a four year term. Now seeking a second full term.

Why seeking office:

“I just enjoy the job. The town of Gypsum is a work in progress … like designing a building. I hope I can help.”

“What I keep trying to work for is a ‘sense of community. Most important of all in creating a sense of community is keeping the community small enough that it is possible for each person to know a majority of the residents and have some interaction with them.”

Most important issue:

“Water is at the top of the list. We need to actively pursue whatever possibilities are out there. We’re trying to do whatever we can to look ahead so the town has a water supply for the future.”


“The town is doing a pretty good job of handling growth. We don’t want un-planned, un-thought-out growth. The town has also provided attainable housing.”

The town requires developers to cover cost through fees for services such a recreation and police department equipment.

Commercial development:

The commercial districts are scattered around town. Eagle has similar issue. Predicts that the type of commercial growth that the Edwards area is currently seeing will gradually move downvalley.

“In 10 years, we will have more to work with, and will be able to create more businesses. I don’t think we can force it.”

Chris Estes, 44, rancher, operates feed stores

– Lifelong resident of Gypsum

– Community involvement: Previously served eight years on Town Council.

Why seeking office:

It is not healthy to have the same group of people on the board all the time. “A little bit of change is good … I can bring a new perspective to the board.”

“Anybody who wants to help the community, has the background, is willing to listen to what is going on and has a little foresight – that makes a good candidate.”

Most important issue:

The town needs to attract some type of businesses to the town. Infrastructure is also important. We need to make sure the roads are up to par. Water is another issue.

These are not issues that involve a short-term fix. The town has been working on these issues for 20 years, as has every town in the valley.


Current policies are working. “I’m not a great big fan of master plans. Things change.”

When the town gets an influx of income, the question is how to spend it in the most constructive way. “The board has done a pretty good job with infrastructure, but lately they’ve gotten away fro it a little too. We need to get on it.”

Commercial development:

“The town has done a good job trying to get businesses in here. The time just isn’t right yet. It’s just the economics right now. We also want to be a little bit picky about what we bring in; but you also have to work with what you’ve got.”

Tom Kelly, 50 years old, district manager, Western Eagle County Recreation District

– Resident o Gypsum for eight years, lives in Willowstone subdivision

– Community involvement: Chairman, Eagle County Emergency Medical Service and Public Safety Council; Town Council member for four years.

Why running:

Always wanted to be involved in the community. Enjoyed first term of office. “I would like to be re-elected so I can see completion of several projects that we started.”

“I’m an excellent listener. I like to hear what people have to say, then go research it.”

Most important issue:

Planned growth. Stick to the master plan, follow it as closely as possible, realizing there will be some bumps in the road.

“As a government, we should do the best we can to bring in reasonable housing. I can’t call it affordable housing.”

The town has done a great job on water storage. “We are continually working in that direction. We need to make sure storage is in place before allowing planned growth.”


The policies are working. The town is diligent in watching the master plan, and making sure growth follows guidelines. “It is pretty hard. Developer knock on the door every day wanting to do this or that.”

Commercial development:

It is crucial for the town to take a leadership role. “It is costly for businesses to keep their doors open in the community. They don’t have a lot of extra cash for beautification. It is important for the town to get involved.”

Gary Lebo, 55 years, owns property management company

– 17-year resident of the valley

– Community involvement: First Lutheran Church, two terms on Town Council.

Why seeking office:

Concerned that there would not be enough candidates to hold an election. “Also, numerous people approached me and urged me to seek re-election.”

“One of my strong points is impartiality. As a business owner, I tend to look at issues strictly from a business standpoint. Does it make sense for our citizens? I don’t have to worry about a conflict of business and can’t be intimidated by any decision made on issues.”

Most important issue:

Growth. “The growth the town is experiencing is a constant issue. We need to make sure the town can provide the services required for this growth; the foremost being our ability to provide water.” The Albertson Ranch project will provide senior water rights that would probably take care of any future development in Gypsum and the town is working on water storage tanks.

“All of the issues are related to growth. Everybody is coming down to our neck of the woods.”

Commercial development:

“If a new development really has the potential of offering needed services, such as a grocery store, then the town can kind of step forward and help with infrastructure requirements. Otherwise, the town doesn’t really have a role to play. That’s driven by the economy.”

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