Minturn mayoral candidate: Gordon "Hawkeye" Flaherty |

Minturn mayoral candidate: Gordon "Hawkeye" Flaherty

Preston Utley/Vail DailyMinturn Mayor Gordon "Hawkeye" Flaherty is running for his fourth term as mayor April 4.

Age: 53

Profession: Vail public works employee

Married: 28 years

Children: Two daughters, one son

Years in Minturn: 46 years

MINTURN ” In 1974, Gordon “Hawkeye” Flaherty packed up his belongings, bound for Alaska to build the Transatlantic Pipeline. Problem was, building didn’t start until the next year.

“I was all set to go and I got up there and found out they weren’t starting that year,” the Minturn mayor said. “They ran into some sort of snag.”

Flaherty worked in Valdez, Alaska, for the summer, then moved back to Minturn for good. These days, the man most people call “Hawkeye” runs the town where he grew up.

“I like working with the people we got on the town staff and I like working for the people in town,” Flaherty said. “I enjoy giving back to the community I grew up in.”

His passion and care for Minturn residents is the reason he is seeking a second consecutive term, and fourth overall, as mayor, he said. In between the first and current terms, he was beat by resident Earle Bidez by just one vote.

Flaherty also served on the town council at least once, he said.

When Flaherty isn’t mayor, he operates heavy equipment for the Vail Public Works Department, a job he’s held for the past 10 years. Before that he fixed broken water and sewer systems for the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

Flaherty attended Western State College in Gunnison for two years then moved back to Minturn.

“I liked it up here,” he said. “I had family up here and found a job.”

But living in a small town at a young age can be problematic.

“The best thing about (Minturn) is you knew just about everybody in town ” at least everybody knew you,” Flaherty said. “You’d do something wrong and your parents knew before you got home.”

As mayor of the current council, I am chairman of an annexation hearing involving the Battle Mountain property. It would be inappropriate and against hearing procedures for myself or any current council member to answer this question.

The impacts, both positive and negative, will be addressed through the public-hearing process that will be held on the Ginn project.

Again it would be inappropriate for me as mayor to comment on matters involving the Ginn project. It could jeopardize the public process.

I know it is the same issue the town has grappled with for a very long time. It is the “second most important issue” identified in the community survey completed in 2005. It is the preservation of Minturn’s small-town character.

It is important because people enjoy the small-town atmosphere. They are proud to live here ” it is a great town. The citizens want the quality of life they currently have maintained and protected.

I think the best way to address this is through Minturn’s planning and zoning regulations. Currently the town staff is thoroughly reviewing those regulations and making recommendations to strengthen them to further protect our small-town character.

The other half of this equation is when builders and developers present projects that do not “fit” the town. The planning and zoning members and council need to step up and say no to the project. They need to take the actions necessary to protect the town character.

I am concerned, but also realize it is part of business ” they come and go. We have had businesses close, but new businesses have taken their place. New businesses have taken over empty spaces that are not retail businesses. They will not provide sales tax to the town. That’s a primary concern.

One bright spot is the mixed-use building being constructed on Nelson Avenue. It will provide additional commercial space for the town and opportunities for new businesses to come to town.

To help restore businesses, council and staff have been addressing this issue. The economic development director has had several town meetings involving private citizens and business owners over the past months. She has involved Clark Becker, the executive director of the Colorado Rural Development Council, and Eileen Fagan from Carter and Burgess. The group identified short- and long-term goals and is moving forward on this issue.

My concern for the well being of the citizens of town. My many years of experience as a councilman and mayor. I really do enjoy working for the people of Minturn.

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or

Vail, Colorado

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