Jennifer Woolley: A promise to listen |

Jennifer Woolley: A promise to listen

District 1 Republican Eagle County Commissioner candidate says community engagement her top priority

Jennifer Woolley
Special to the Daily

Jennifer Woolley, Republican candidate for the District 1 Eagle County Commissioner race, has made a very fundamental campaign promise.

If elected, she promises to listen.

“What really got me interested in running were the many people in the community who weren’t feeling listened to or truly heard with some of these more contentious development projects we have going on,” Woolley said.

Specifically, she cited the Warner Building in EagleVail, MTN Hive in Edwards and the Edwards River Park.

“Many people are feeling that they weren’t being heard on these projects,” she said. “We need to have a more collaborative dialogue.”

For her part, Woolley said she has heard about some interesting alternative options for the Warner Building and believes that while the MTN Hive co-living concept is intriguing, zoning issues at the property must be resolved. As for the Edwards River Park, Woolley said the proposed density is a concern. “And I am not sure that 10-story buildings are the right thing there,” she said.

Woolley believes these three projects are prime examples of why Eagle County needs to broaden access to public engagement. That includes offering more evening meetings that working people can attend and expanding the way public comment is collected.

“There needs to be something different than just standing at a podium and stating an opinion and then moving on to the next person,” she said.

Two decades in Eagle County

Woolley has resided in Eagle County for 20 years and spent 30 years working for Vail Resorts, primarily in ski rental shop management and information technology management. She earned a bachelor’s degree in forest biology from Colorado State University and is a resident of Edwards.

“I just love the outdoors,” she said. “Even when you are just driving to work and looking around, we live in a beautiful place. There is room to breathe and move here.”

Woolley noted she has served on several boards including the Rocky Mountain Chapter of HDI, an information technology industry association. She also was a member of the national HDI advisory board. Locally, she has served on the vestry of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration and volunteered with the Salvation Army and the county chapter of the American Red Cross.

Woolley embraces the GOP’s business-friendly ideals.

“Ultimately, we need to be known as a business-friendly county where people can enjoy and afford to live here,” she said.

“We haven’t had a Republican county commissioner since Tom Stone left office in 2006,” Woolley continued. “I think it’s time to bring balance back to the board of county commissioners. It’s going to bring in differences of opinion and make this county even better. It will also keep us all in check.”

COVID-19 and economic diversity

The global pandemic is global election issue in 2020.

“I think we are still in the state that we don’t know what is going to happen and life keeps changing every week, every day,” Woolley said.

She applauded the local businesses that found ways to make things work this summer, but noted there are significant challenges ahead for the ski season.

“I am very worried about the winter, when outside seating isn’t an option,” Woolley said.

The pandemic has also brought increased awareness of the county’s reliance on the tourism industry, Woolley said.

“It is time to prioritize economic development,” she said. “What I mean by that is right now the county relies heavily on Vail Resorts for its economic health. When Vail Resorts has a bad year, the rest of the community does, too. We need to lessen and dampen those effects.”

She said the county should explore economic diversification that highlights the local landscape and character. The film industry is one example, she said. Providing more services for truckers traveling along Interstate 70 is another.

“There are a lot of remote workers moving here now and there are more and more companies with remote workers. Maybe we can be more proactive and promote that as an industry,” she said.

To do that, the county needs to improve infrastructure including cell service and broadband options, Woolley noted.

“But those are all doable things,” she said.

Other priorities

“I think we have a huge community of individuals with ideas out there, if we just ask and allow them to grow,” Woolley said.

She noted that many of the county’s top needs — including affordable housing and health care — require collaborative solutions.

“We have to find a way to have more than one health insurance provider on the county exchange. We need more opportunities,” she said.

She applauded the Vail Valley Partnership’s efforts to establish a mountain health care coalition.

The county’s housing solutions need to embrace different ideas, Woolly said. Those options include everything from dormitory-style buildings to tiny home neighborhoods. Woolley recounted a recent conversation with a longtime local who reminisced about a time where there was an active artists’ collective in the valley. Woolley would love to see creative options like that return to Eagle County and as a commissioner, she said she would work to help that happen.

“I just feel there is a ton of different ideas up here if we just start listening to our people,” Woolley concluded.

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