Gordon stresses quality of life
VAIL – Quality of life. That’s where Vail Town Council candidate Mark Gordon starts when describing his campaign. “If we’re a great place to live, we’re a great place to visit,” he said.To improve quality of life, he wants a lot of affordable housing in Vail. Enough to bring 1,500 people from middle-class families – a “critical mass” – to Vail as full-time residents of places such as the Timber Ridge complex and West Vail. He wants a rec center in Vail. And he would consider each development that comes before him for approval under the “quality of life filter,” he said.For Gordon, quality of life extends beyond just locals. He wants the quality of life to improve for second-home owners, businesses, and, when they’re here, visitors from the Front Range, the rest of the U.S. and elsewhere.But it comes back to getting more middle-class families in Vail, making sure it’s a “real ski town,” he said. “(Visitors) want to go to a bar and sit next to a local and find out where the powder stash is,” he said.Gordon ran for council in 2003, coming in sixth in a race that gave seats to the top four vote-getters. He ran again in a special election in January of 2004, and came in second in a race for one seat.’That ideal life’Gordon moved here in 2000 after deciding he wanted a change of pace from owning his own business in Kentucky.He was under a lot of stress and was traveling for business almost all year long, and he didn’t want to be an absentee father once he and his wife started a family, he said.
He and his wife visited Vail to ski, and, wanting to live in a ski town, decided to make Vail their home.They bought a home in the Matterhorn neighborhood and soon became active in the neighborhood and in local government. He found friendly neighbors who would pop in to watch TV or share a bottle of wine. “It’s like that ideal life that people always talk about,” he said.He’s also been a member of a band and owned a record label.Gordon has served on the Committee for Special Events for the last two years. It’s given him more direct experience with Vail government, and he’s more familiar with the issues that are facing Vail now than when he ran last time, he said.’Thinking outside the box’Gordon spoke excitedly as he talked about his ideas for Vail, sipping cappuccino at his Matterhorn home. “I like experimenting and thinking things through,” he said. “Not implementing them, but just running through those mental models and figuring out ‘What does this do?’ and ‘What does that do?’ Thinking outside the box.”He came up with the idea for the Lionshead gondola passport, a program that would require visitors to go to Lionshead businesses to get a free gondola ride, he said. The program is designed to help Lionshead businesses during the heavy construction.Another idea is affordable housing that would restrict deeds to people who work in Vail, but without appreciation caps. That would restrict the price because of a limited market, he said, and keep Vail workers living in Vail.The current council has made both good and bad decisions, he said. One bad decision, he said, was the council’s decision on the redevelopment of the Crossroads complex in Vail Village. “I think the Crossroads decision was really terrible,” he said.He wants to see a rec center in Vail, something he said many of Vail’s European counterparts have near their slopes. “We need a place that becomes ours, where people can gather and talk about things, talk about politics,” he said.
He also said he wants to expedite the construction of a fire station in West Vail, and move faster on finding ways to quiet Interstate 70.When he looks at development, he’ll be looking for the benefit it will have for the community, he said. “We need to make sure that every development goes through the quality of life filter,” he said.Gordon said that could mean more hotel rooms or retail space, which would bring amenities for visitors and locals and provide jobs and tax revenue that would filter down to the community.He sees a division on the current council between people who want Vail to move forward and others who want Vail to stay the same or move back to the past, he said.Despite being a guy who often sees issues in shades of gray rather than absolutes, he unequivocally said he wants to see Vail move forward. “I want to see Vail progress,” he said. “I respect the past and appreciate what all of our founders did. But we have to move forward and start thinking about the future, a strategic vision for what Vail is going to become.”And will he continue to run if he is unsuccessful this time? “You betcha,” he said. “I’m not a quitter.”Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 604, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
AT A GLANCEMark GordonAge: 42.Occupation: Foreman, Vail Communications Center.Lived in Vail since: 2000.Neighborhood: Matterhorn, West Vail.Family: Wife Tracy, son Sasha, 2.Hometown: Louisville, Ky.Education: Master’s, bachelor’s, Indiana University.Favorite ski run: Blue Sky trees.