Final day to vote, Vail Valley
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –After a month-long campaign season, Vail’s election day has arrived.
The nine candidates competing for Vail’s four open Town Council seats have been debating, walking door-to-door, researching the issues and attending town meetings for the last month. Today, voters decide who will fill the empty seats.
Candidates include three incumbents – Kevin Foley, Kim Newbury and Mark Gordon – 2007 candidates Susie Tjossem and Scott Proper, former councilman and mayor Ludwig Kurz, Vail natives Kerry Donovan and Buddy Lazier, and longtime local businessman Mike Charles.
The new Town Council members will have their work cut out for them, said Town Manager Stan Zemler at a candidate debriefing last month. Items like Ever Vail, prioritizing capital projects, Timber Ridge’s redevelopment and the Ford Park master plan are going to come up almost immediately, he said.
The election is an important one not only because a majority of council seats are turning over, but because the town’s economic future is at stake, say some local voters.
“We’ve got so many economic issues facing us that it’s critical we get the right people in there,” said Vail resident Kaye Ferry. “The current council has been way too liberal – I don’t think they’ve taken the downturn in the economy seriously enough.”
Ferry follows town government closely, and said she will likely have spent $100 or more in postage just to vote – she mailed her ballot in from Europe.
Kent Logan, a resident and member of the Vail Citizens for Action group, said the candidate pool is a good one. Logan, a former councilman, said he thinks “a number of the existing members should be reelected,” but he hopes there will be a new face or two.
Former council member and longtime resident Dr. Tom Steinberg said the new council has to better plan for the distant future, rather than think in immediate terms all the time.
“The panic (about the economy) at the moment is such that they don’t talk about the long term,” Steinberg said. “What has made Vail is looking at where we need to be 10, 20 years from now.”
The Vail Daily will publish election results as they’re announced tonight at http://www.vaildaily.com.
If Monday’s numbers are any indication, Election Day 2009 will set a record, and not the good kind.
As of Monday afternoon, only about 4,700 ballots had been returned to the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s office in Eagle. That’s less than 20 percent of the more than 25,000 ballots mailed out in October.
“The lowest turnout we’ve had since I’ve had this job is 38 percent,” Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton said.
The reason for the low turnout is simple, Simonton said – a remarkably sparse ballot.
There are no state ballot issues this year, and just one countywide question – ballot issue 1A, which would authorize the county to issue debt to create an “energy smart loan” program. That program, which will be modeled on an existing program in Boulder County, would provide loans to county homeowners who want to pay for energy-efficient renovations on their houses.
Backers say the program would help the local construction industry and help locals save money on their utility bills. Opponents question whether the county should get itself into the banking business, and worry that the loans – which would be repaid on property tax bills – might make it more difficult for people to sell their homes.
But locals Jake Jacobson and Eduardo Ruiz said they support the ballot question.
“I think it’s important to have it,” Ruiz said. Jacobson agreed.
Jacobson said he also supported ballot issue 5A, which is only for Eagle-Vail voters. That issue would allow the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District to issue about $7 million in bonds to pay for a list of improvements in the area including burying overhead power lines and building a new swimming pool.
“I don’t like voting for new taxes,” Jacobson said. “But I think this is important to get our amenities repaired.”
Besides the ballot issue, Vail Valley voters will pick a new school board member to replace Gypsum representative Scott Green, who is leaving office due to term limits.
Political newcomers Russ Morgan and Mo Sanchez are running to replace Green.
Talking about the race outside Columbine Market in Gypsum Monday afternoon, Ruiz said he thinks valley voters could send local students a positive message by electing Sanchez.
Ruiz, who has two children who have graduated from Eagle Valley High School, noted there are a lot of Hispanic families with kids in local schools.
“If he wants more involvement with the Latinos, it could really be inspiring to some people,” Ruiz said.
Bonnie Ellison, who lives in northeast Eagle County, voted in the West Grand School Board election.
“I feel like you have the right to vote, and you should use it,” Ellison said.