Meet the candidates running for Mountain Recreation’s board of directors | VailDaily.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Meet the candidates running for Mountain Recreation’s board of directors

The election will be held in person on Tuesday, May 2

Mountain Recreation will hold polling places at Gypsum Rec Center, Eagle Pool & Ice Rink and the Edwards Field House for its May 2 election.
Mountain Recreation/Courtesy Photo

Mountain Recreation will be holding a polling place election on Tuesday, May 2 to fill three open seats on its board of directors.

Seven candidates — incumbent Tom Pohl as well as Brian Brandl, Jason Cole, Tom Edwards, Joanna Kerwin, Bobby Ladd and Shawna Topor — are running for the three open director seats on the five-person board. The three elected directors will serve four-year terms on the district’s board.

While the May 2022 Mountain Recreation board election was conducted via mail-in ballots, voters will not have that option for the May 2 election.

All residents of the special district — which spans Edwards to Dotsero, east to west, and reaches McCoy in the north — that are registered to vote in Colorado will be able to vote at any of the three polling places in the district. The polling places at Gypsum Rec Center, Eagle Pool & Ice Rink and the Edwards Field House will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2.

Residents can request an absentee ballot from the district’s designated election official up until April 25 at 5 p.m. Voted absentee ballots must be returned to the designated election official by 7 p.m. on election day, or prior to election day by mail or at a secure lock box at the Gypsum Rec Center.

Support Local Journalism


More information on when and how to vote can be found at MountainRec.org/elections. And any questions about the election can be sent to Scott Robinson, the district’s designated election official, at 970-682-6842 or at SRobinson@MountainRec.org.

Get to know the seven candidates running for Mountain Recreation’s board of directors below:

Brian Brandl

Occupation: Owner of a general services company

Place of residence: Gypsum

Why did you decide to run for the Mountain Recreation Board? 

I grew up playing sports in WECMRD. Playing sports and being involved in activities in your local community is an exponentially important factor in a young person’s life. It shapes character, compassion and belonging while teaching them how to be a team player too. I know it had a profound influence in helping me become the person I am today. 

What projects do you feel are most important for the board to consider? 

I don’t think any new projects should take priority. I want to see Mountain Recreation continue to provide an extremely high level of service and maintaining/upgrading the current facilities is of the utmost priority.

What does the future of Mountain Rec look like to you? 

I feel Mountain Rec offers a great product/service, however, I would like to see expansion in regard to programming offerings to accommodate more youths in the valley. By this, I don’t mean adding more or additional programming but just adding availability or expanding summer camps, swimming lessons, etc., so we can watch the youth in our valley grow and flourish through healthy meaningful interactions with their peers. 

Did you support the district’s All Access Rec plan? Why or why not? 

I did not support the district’s All Access Rec Plan. I feel it is our responsibility to pay for the recreation we want and need for ourselves; it is not the communities’ responsibility to pay for another individual’s elective recreational activities. 

Jason Cole

Occupation: CEO of Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate

Place of residence: Eagle

Why did you decide to run for the Mountain Recreation Board? 

The Mountain Recreation board and staff have accomplished a lot over the past few years, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. We must ensure that we have a fiscally responsible path toward building/improving the year-round facilities that are so vital to our growing community. 

Participating in youth sports was hugely impactful to me as a kid, and I’ve enjoyed watching my kids fall in love with sports and learning what it means to be a part of a team. Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder for them to find the space and volunteers needed to offer enough programs for everyone to participate.

A board made up of community members that are willing to put their personal agendas aside and work together to find solutions that benefit the entire community is what’s best for everyone. I believe I can bring that approach to the Mountain Recreation board.

What projects do you feel are most important for the board to consider? 

I believe the board should follow a fiscally responsible path toward building/improving year-round facilities in every Mountain Recreation community. A part of this plan should include working with the other recreation districts, schools and sports clubs in our valley to share resources so that everyone’s programming can be successful.

What does the future of Mountain Rec look like to you? 

Smart and sustainable growth focused on offering the facilities, staff and programming needed to improve community engagement, promote healthy living, and enhance the quality of life for the district’s residents. We can do this by providing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to engage in activities that they enjoy.

Did you support the district’s All Access Rec plan? Why or why not? 

Yes, I supported the plan. To support year-round programming for both kids and adults, there is a need for additional year-round facilities. I believe our community wants to see this happen but to accomplish that plan, we must rethink the path forward and make substantial adjustments to how we go about funding these projects.

Tom Edwards

Occupation: Retired architect and general contractor

Place of residence: Gypsum

Why did you decide to run for the Mountain Recreation Board? 

I want to bring to the table some creative ideas that will accommodate the increased population and recreational needs in the lower Eagle Valley. I would like to use the enthusiasm I have and the experience I gained in helping bring about the original Gypsum Recreation Center in 2006. I want to form enhanced partnerships with each community and work with them to finance and create recreational facilities and programs that they deem most valuable.

What projects do you feel are most important for the board to consider? 

Obviously, the pool in Eagle because it is unusable at the moment. Beyond that, I look forward to working with the towns and metro districts to get a clear picture of community needs and wants so that the board may support the real desire of each community. The Mountain Recreation staff is also important in determining the community needs as they work each day with the residents and learn, firsthand, what our communities need.

What does the future of Mountain Rec look like to you? 

Fantastic! We have a strong start in each of the three hubs of the district. We have an increasing attendance and interest in recreation. We have governmental and health interests that want to promote the benefits of recreation. I anticipate a board that wants to bring all these entities together along with the business community to provide what is necessary to make the Mountain Recreation district an outstanding place to live, work, play and be healthy.

Did you support the district’s All Access Rec plan? Why or why not? 

Along with 73% of the voters, I did not support Mountain Recreation’s “All Access” ballot question in the form it was presented. That being said, I will be working as part of the Mountain Recreation board to provide the amenities and programs that are supported by our communities. My goal is to provide facilities and programs that are inclusive of everyone and to promote an environment of health and inclusivity throughout the Mountain Recreation district.

Joanna Kerwin

Occupation: Real estate broker

Place of residence: Edwards

Why did you decide to run for the Mountain Recreation Board? 

I have a deep commitment and passion for our community. Mountain Recreation is an important asset that needs to be protected and managed with intention and integrity.

Having attended the board meetings for several years, I am aware of the opportunities and challenges facing the district.

I currently serve on the Edwards Metro District Board, The Homestead HOA Board and my residential Homeowners Association. I enjoy volunteering with the Vail Valley Foundation and as a Rotarian. I was honored to be named Vail Valley Foundation’s 2020 Volunteer of the Year.

What projects do you feel are most important for the board to consider? 

It is vital to maintain the district’s current assets, fund reserves for capital projects and grow with communities’ recreational needs.

During a tour of the three facilities managed by Mountain Rec, it is apparent that each offers different recreational experiences, and has unique financial needs. Important projects to be considered range from managing the current spaces for maximum recreational use, replacing worn and inoperable assets, and improving staffing and hours of operation in all facilities.

What does the future of Mountain Rec look like to you? 

Mountain Rec must provide quality recreational opportunities for residents of all ages. We need to hear what our taxpayers are asking for. I believe that district taxpayers have a right to know exactly how their money is being spent, and it is our responsibility and obligation to be transparent. We need to provide financial and program equity throughout the district hubs.

Did you support the district’s All Access Rec plan? Why or why not? 

I did not support All Access Rec. The financial burden to the district taxpayers was too great.

The ballot initiative did not take into consideration the potential substantial increase in revenues due to the increased valuations of properties. All Access Rec would not sunset. The increased mill levy would have been in perpetuity. It was not the best use of our facilities, and finally, it did not reflect the community’s need for recreation.

Bobby Ladd

Occupation: Architect

Place of residence: Eagle

Why did you decide to run for the Mountain Recreation Board? 

I was on the Board previously under WECMRD. My youngest child is now old enough to participate in Mountain Rec sports and I saw the opportunity to again serve the community and become involved in helping to shape our community recreation opportunities. 

What projects do you feel are most important for the board to consider? 

I can’t speak specifically to projects. While I think it is important to respond to the changing recreation needs of the community, the financial implications need to be considered as well to maintain fiscally responsible growth. 

What does the future of Mountain Rec look like to you? 

Mountain Rec should respond to all aspects of the community from entry-level to competitive sports to support all needs of the community. Through direct sports programming or partnering with local sports entities, Mountain Rec can shape the landscape of recreation in western Eagle County. 

Did you support the district’s All Access Rec plan? Why or why not? 

I support a fiscally responsible approach to All Access. I think affordable and expanded athletics for all demographics is a great service to provide for the community. I also support engaging athletic growth to further levels of competitiveness to serve all facets of the recreation community. But all need to be provided within a framework that maintains fiscal responsibility to the district’s taxpayers. 

Tom Pohl

Occupation: Attorney and counselor at law

Place of residence: Eagle

Why did you decide to run for the Mountain Recreation Board? 

I currently serve on the Mountain Recreation Board, care deeply about the recreation district, and believe it plays an incredibly important role in the overall health and well-being of our community.

Professionally, I serve clients ranging in age from the elderly to young adults primarily assisting with disability and estate planning matters.

Personally, I’m a son to older parents, a long-term local fighting old injuries to stay healthy and keep doing the activities I love, and the father of a teenager and tween who each benefit directly in different ways from the opportunities and resources provided across the Mountain Recreation District.

I am running for the board because I think the insights gained from my personal and professional experience combined with my recent experience serving on the Mountain Rec Board will continue to serve the district well.

What projects do you feel are most important for the board to consider? 

First and foremost, filling the role of our departing Executive Director Janet Bartnik with the best person possible while supporting, attracting, and retaining staff through the transitional period. Thereafter:

  • Working with the town of Eagle to get the pool re-opened;
  • Reviewing our inter-governmental agreements with our partners so we can work together most effectively throughout the district to best meet the needs in each of our service hubs; and
  • Working to foster and develop both existing and new relationships to secure new revenue sources for improvements such as an additional sheet of ice, gymnasiums and more pickleball courts in Edwards and Eagle, as well as expanding programming for teens, adults and seniors where desired, without a property tax increase. 

What does the future of Mountain Rec look like to you? 

Bright, very bright.

Did you support the district’s All Access Rec plan? Why or why not?

Yes, although not perfect, it addressed many of the district’s fiscal challenges. We need strong leadership to be successful and lay the groundwork for our district’s future. I would be honored to be part of that leadership team.

Shawna Topor

Occupation: Executive vice president at Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate

Place of residence: Eagle

Why did you decide to run for the Mountain Recreation Board? 

We need smart growth that aligns with the fast-growing needs of our communities and families, including adult and senior programming. I’m running because I’m concerned that personal agendas may derail this much-needed programming.

We can’t do it all, but I promise to listen, learn and make educated decisions based on what is best for the majority. We must work together in a respectful and professional manner. We need an unaffiliated and moderate voice that represents the majority. A voice for our local families and sports clubs, all of whom are struggling for court time, field time, ice time, childcare, etc. 

What projects do you feel are most important for the board to consider? 

The board must find an outstanding replacement for the Executive Director position, someone that will listen and truly hear the goals and concerns of each group, neighborhood and individual community member. They must make fair and unbiased decisions so that everyone involved feels heard while doing what’s best for the district as a whole.

What does the future of Mountain Rec look like to you? 

Our home values aren’t just about the “house,” it’s the place where we live. The amenities and services that surround our homes add to the value and positively impact the quality of life for all. I see the positive impact Mountain Recreation provides to all our neighborhoods. With the right leadership, that important impact and programming will continue. This progress is critical to our communities.

Did you support the district’s All Access Rec plan? Why or why not?  As working parents, the childcare and camps have been invaluable to our family. All of our athletic clubs, childcare, wellness, and programming are in need. I watch friends stress and struggle to find childcare. To move forward, we must do so with the goal of doing what’s best for our overall community. We must move Mountain Rec forward with fiscally responsible additional programming and capital improvements.


Support Local Journalism