Is Vail’s mayor more than a pretty face?
VAIL, Colorado ” At least two people are interested in becoming Vail’s next mayor, while residents have proposed their own candidates ” but is the mayor more than just a figurehead?
Sally Jackle, a Vail resident, said it is a figurehead ” and more.
“I think the mayor is really the face of Vail to the outside world and even to the community, to some extent, around the valley and elsewhere,” she said.
Also quite important, Jackle said, is that the mayor runs the meetings, which should be effective, productive and fair. You don’t want a mayor who rolls his or her eyes, acts impatient, or rustles newspapers when residents are sharing their opinions, she said.
Jackle said the position is so important, voters should be able to choose him or her.
But under Vail’s laws, the new council will elect a mayor from within its ranks Tuesday. Rod Slifer, who has been Vail’s mayor for the last four years, is term-limited and will step aside.
A couple of incumbent councilmen have said they’re interested in being mayor. One of them, Farrow Hitt, is now mayor pro tem, or vice mayor. Another, Mark Gordon, was the leading vote-getting in the 2005 election.
Newly elected councilman Dick Cleveland has four years of previous council experience, including a couple of years as mayor pro tem. Some have even speculated that Andy Daly, a newly elected councilman who received the most votes in Tuesday’s election, would be a good option for mayor.
The other council members, Kevin Foley, Kim Newbury and newly-elected Margaret Rogers, said they’re not interested in being Vail’s mayor.
Kaye Ferry, a longtime observer of Vail government, said the mayor is quite important ” above all because he helps decide the agenda of meetings.
“He determines what we look at, what order it is in, and how timely they are reviewed, and that’s key to how government runs,” she said.
Ferry also said she thinks voters should elect Vail’s mayor.
Ferry said her organization, the Vail Chamber and Business Association, expects that Cleveland will be Vail’s next mayor.
“He brings the most experience to the job,” she said.
None of the incumbents could get enough support to be mayor, Ferry said.
Indeed, the mayor must fill many public roles, from welcoming large groups into town to kicking off skiing events to attending regional meetings such as the Northwest Colorado Council of Government pow-wows, Slifer said.
“It’s the person who represents the community at a variety of events or responsibilities or meetings or committees, and I think it’s a very important job for the community,” Slifer said.
Slifer said he meets with Town Manager Stan Zemler each week to help decide what the council will take up in the next meeting.
But Slifer, who also served as mayor in the late ’70s and early ’80s, did not want to weigh in on whom he wants to succeed him.
“That’s not my job,” he said.
Foley said he think Hitt, the current mayor pro tem, would be best for the job.
“He knows what the issues are, what’s going on and how to run meetings,” Foley said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.