Meet the candidates: Avon Town Council filling 3 vacant seats this election
AVON — Five candidates vie for three Avon Town Council seats this fall, with two incumbents, two former council members and a Battle Mountain graduate all seeking office. The candidates are Mayor Jennie Fancher, Mayor Pro Tem Jake Wolf, former council member Peter Buckley, former council member Amy Phillips and Eagle County native Trevor Spinks.
Mayor Jennie Fancher says the main reason she’s running for council again this year is because she loves the job.
“I’m really proud of a lot of the things we’ve done,” she said. “The changes I’m personally most proud of are the ones that really have made Avon more pedestrian- and bike-friendly and have enhanced a sense of community.”
Fancher says the town simply looks better than it does four years ago.
“I love going over to the beach area, I can’t even believe that we didn’t have a beach,” she said. “It’s such a treat to see families out there truly enjoying themselves.”
The beach at Nottingham Lake and the Nottingham Park area will be a gem for years to come, says Fancher, and despite criticism regarding the cost and the park losing a couple of events recently, the area is really special.
“It’s quite an asset for Avon, and I look forward to working out the kinks,” she said. “I bet the future is going to hold a number of fantastic events in the park and on the stage.”
Another accomplishment in which Fancher takes pride is the Main Street Mall, which connects the Avon Recreation Center and Avon Road Roundabout No. 4.
“The pop-up strings concert there this summer was really nice,” she said. “All the chairs out there were full. I just feel like the nice improvements will beg better and more thoughtful development in the future.”
At the candidate forum on Oct. 17, Fancher said that many issues the town faces are regional issues, including housing, economic development and transportation, adding that “working together is helpful.”
THE MAYOR PRO TEM
Mayor Pro Tem Jake Wolf says he wants to reduce taxpayer burdens by maximizing the town’s assets.
Himself a musician, the main asset Wolf wants to see maximized is the town’s $3.2-million performance pavilion at Nottingham Park. After running on a platform to bring a new music festival to town after the SnowBall Music Festival and Avon went their separate ways in 2012, Wolf now finds himself in a similar situation.
“I was pretty heartbroken about losing WinterWonderGrass, which I worked so hard to bring here,” he said. “But that event proved we can find events that are the right fit for this town if we work hard to bring them here and then work hard to keep them here.”
Wolf says his main objective would be to bring the hospitality industry into the picture more as they examine programming for the pavilion. His other objectives include the formation of what he calls, “a true creative district” in Avon — saying it’s something towns in Eagle County currently lack — which is tied directly to workforce housing, in Wolf’s view.
“You can’t have an arts district without artists, and it’s too expensive to live here,” Wolf said. “So hand-and-hand should be creating an arts district and finding worker housing.”
Back to utilizing assets, Wolf says when the town staff moves to the new town hall in 2017, the old building should be used in conjunction with the arts.
“That would make a wonderful artist-in-residence spot,” he said.
At the candidate forum, Wolf stressed the need for transparency in town government. After four years on the council, he said there are “things going on that aren’t quite transparent.”
FORMER COUNCIL MEMBER, 2004-2012
Amy Phillips likes the way things are going in Avon, and she has been paying attention.
“I think once you have been in the position to listen to the constituents and make decisions and recommendations, it’s tough to go back to simply being a person with input,” she said. “The last two years, I’ve really stepped back a little bit, just knowing the seven people on the council were people I supported.”
Should she win a seat back on the council in November, she said she would showcase her talent for weighing fiscal responsibility with useful services.
“The council doesn’t really have a lot of folks who have a lot of experience in the hospitality industry,” she said. “And though I’m a real estate agent now, I spent 25 years in the hotel and hospitality industry. I think coming from that mindset for the town is really important.”
While Phillips says she loves the new performance pavilion, which was completed in 2014, she criticized the fact that it went over-budget by nearly $2 million.
“I think it could have been planned and executed in a much more fiscally-responsible way,” she said.
“The main reason I’m running again is I think the council is doing a good job, and I want to be there to vote on the implementation on a lot of the things that are currently under study,” she said.
Phillips believes “Avon should be a leader in almost all regional cooperatives” at the candidate forum, and that the biggest opportunity for the town moving forward is with redevelopment and planning.
THE FORMER COUNCILMAN, 2000-2004
Buckley is also a former council member, serving from 2000 to 2004. He says, in general, he wants to see change.
“A change for the better is called for,” he said. “Avon should stop trying to be all things to all people in all seasons.”
An open critic of spending in Avon, Buckley also ran for council in 2014 on the wings of a mascot he created for his campaign known as the “Budget hawk.” Unsuccessful in that attempt, the longtime Wildridge resident has simplified his criticisms this time around.
“Avon needs a change in the crazy roads and traffic patterns drivers have to put up with today,” Buckley wrote to the Vail Daily. “The Avon post office needs to be made more accessible, not less accessible.”
Buckley has also been openly critical of Town Manager Virginia Egger, saying she has involved the town in too much controversy in the four years she has been here.
“Avon needs a town council that manages their town manager, not a town manager that dictates her will to the council,” he wrote. “Avon needs change — in the way they negotiate and we need to book concerts that make economic sense — not a drain on the town’s treasury. Avon needs a town council that listens; Avon citizens should not have to organize voter referendums to have their voice heard by their town council.
“When the voters say ‘no,’ no means no.”
Buckley has many ideas for the town’s future, including some possible solutions to the parking problem, saying, “The immediate pressing issue in the town of Avon right now is parking.”
THE LOCAL GRAD
Trevor Spinks grew up in Eagle County and graduated from Battle Mountain High School in 2005. He worked in hospitality here, where he says he learned how to serve others.
“This is what I hope to do as a member of the Avon Town Council,” Spinks writes on his campaign website, http://www.trevorspinks.com. “As a voice on your Town Council I will always strive to put the needs of our community ahead of any special interests. These needs include affordable housing, the development of our youth and attracting high-quality tourism.”
Spinks’ focuses include education and health care.
“Providing a good quality education to children is what allows them to grow up and be the incredible people we all know they can be,” he writes. “As we study development, we are beginning to learn that early childhood education is incredibly important to a child’s growth and it is something people tell me we are in great need of here in Avon.”
As far as health care goes, Spinks hasn’t missed the rise in insurance premiums and deductibles in our area in recent years.
“I find myself asking, ‘Why is someone profiting off of my health?’ Spinks writes. “Research has shown that America spends more for health care per person than any country in the world, yet according to the World Health Organization we rank 37th. As a modern nation, I believe that it is in our best interest to provide a single payer health care system that covers every citizen.”
At the candidate forum, Spinks said “parking is an ancient issue” and that “it’s not Avon’s job, in my opinion, to provide skier parking for free.”
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill. Reporter John LaConte can be reached at 970-748-2988 and email@example.com.